She put Mercurochrome and Band-Aids on my scraped knees and grounded me for playing where I shouldn't have been. She checked my forehead for fever with the back of her hand as she scolded me for going outside without a hat. She put Tabasco sauce on my tongue as a punishment for sassing; I returned the favor by learning to love spicy food. I never did learn not to sass.
She made sure I had piano lessons and was disappointed when I played anything but classical music (in her words, "Stop that banging!"). She praised me for being wise beyond my years, but told me there were certain things I couldn't understand. I learned them and understood them anyway.
She is largely responsible for me becoming a writer. Although the constant grammatical and spelling corrections were eye-roll inducing when I was a kid, the lessons stuck and they stuck for good.
She loathed swearing and despised sarcasm. Although there was much else about me, especially in my adult life, that she didn't approve of, she never failed to tell me that she loved me and believed in me.
We were diametrically opposed in terms of religious belief, but I value the solid set of morals she instilled in me.
Because of her, I have a love and basic knowledge of classical music and opera, plus I know all the words to all those old musicals. Because of her I've had a love of reading since I first discovered words. Because of her, I have loved discovering words, their meanings, how they join together to teach us or take us down a path.
She would say it's not so, but I know my stubborn streak is from her. She was downright mulish when it came to her truths. And she was fiercely competitive when it came to playing cards... as am I.
Thanks to her, I know how to cook, put up canned goods, bake pies, cakes and cookies from scratch, and, when pressed, how to clean properly.
There were things that didn't work in our relationship, as in any relationship, but we made it good. In my adult life, we enjoyed trips together and theater, and discussions about books and travel. In healthier times, she traveled the world - Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and all over the USA. Just last Wednesday I sent her a text message as I was wandering around the Olympic Peninsula with my nephew and his family. She replied within a minute, "So happy to hear from you!! My love to all!"
Early this morning my Mom (I've never called her Mother, and, dear gods, never ever Ma!) passed away. I will remember all these things about her. All these things and more. And I will, as ever, walk with pride that I am her daughter.
In memory of Kathleen R. Black
February 12, 1928 - July 9, 2015