I know I am lucky. My mom lost her mom on her 16th birthday. Granted, I didn’t like my mom when I was 16 half as much as I like her now, but I can’t imagine going through the last 20 years without her. She’s always done absolutely everything she could for my brother and I, and as I’ve become an adult and a mother myself, I lean on her now more than ever.
I’m also lucky because I had a second mom, my BFF (K)’s mom, Mrs. H (sidebar: when are you old enough to call your BFF’s parents by their real names? I think I’ll hold out until 40). I met K in 3rd grade, and while our friendship has had it’s rough patches (and maybe some threats of people being pushed in pools), she’s by far my closest friend, the sister I never had.
When we were younger, K & I spent a lot of time at each other’s houses. Her brother & my brother were besties too, so the two H’s come to our house together and vice versa. There were countless sleepovers at both houses, dinners together, trips together, you name it. My parents never worried when I was with K, they knew her parents were good people, and, more importantly, they knew she had the earliest curfew!
Mrs. H took me (and B too) along everywhere like we were additional daughters. She always let us into her home, and into her snack cabinet, which was so awesome (even though it always smelled a bit like cat food). She took us on road trips for History Day projects, to the ballet to watch K dance, to Newport for mansion tours (even though she wouldn’t drive over the bridge), and to Florida for our first trip as grown-ups, to Marco Island. She and her best friend gave up their vacation to drive around and entertain four 18year-old girls, before her husband showed up with four 16 year-old boys for the next week. It’s amazing they all weren’t sainted after that trip.
One day, as me, K & B lounged around K’s room (probably watching 90210 or playing MASH while eating Oreos) Mrs. H came in and explained to us that we needed to marry men with college degrees or we wouldn’t be happy in life. We fondly referred to that bit of advice as “Miss Terry’s Finishing School for Young Women.” We also ignored that advice, and, between 3 husbands, there was not a college degree to be found. But Mrs. H was still happy, as long as her girls were happy.
My fondest memories of Mrs. H are on the beach – Marco or Bonnet. Sipping her white wine and turning the music down during the day, dancing in the Pit or watching the sunset at night. She always showed up to Bonnet late, bearing pizza strips or calzones, and went around the circle saying hi to everyone before she assumed her position in between her friends, with her book, feet in the ocean. I went to Marco with her two more times after that high school trip – on a girls trip with K and two of Mrs. H’s best friends, and for her oldest son’s wedding two years ago. She was also generous enough to let K, B & I use the condo for a week of girl time alone, one of my best vacations yet. Marco was a special place for her, and I’m glad to have been a part of it.
Mrs. H could be a toughie, to say the least. She had strict rules for her kids, ones they “sometimes” broke. You never wanted to be the recipient of the evil eye from Mrs. H. And no one was safe from it, it was not just reserved for family members. It often came out when loud music, skimpy clothes, dirty dancing, or too much booze was involved. She wanted the best for her family, and if you were around her, you were family.
Her house was the party house, whether she knew it or not. Times she didn’t know it were followed by a flurry of cleaning and praying she didn’t spot the keg in the woods. Times she did know it, she joined right in on the fun. She once got off a plane, changed into hot pink scrubs and an 80s wig, and spent the rest of the night dancing barefoot in her living room with a bunch of 30 year olds. I spent many Christmas nights at the house, drinking wine and shooting off fireworks in the snow. I rang in the new year of the new century in that house, conga-ing around the living room, because Mrs. H wanted her kids to be safe, so she let us crash the “adults” party and drink with them.
Mrs. H loved her family more than anything. She took great care of all of them – from her husband (the Silver Fox), her two boys and K – to her extended family of cousins and friends. She was so proud of all of her kids, and supported them no matter what. Her greatest joy and pride after her kids were her grandkids. Even though she was sick by the time they came along, and even though she was a bit surprised by the news of becoming a grandma, she loved all three of those kids as much as she loved her own kids. She babysat often, and spoiled them as much as she could.
My life is filled with so many happy memories. I have such a great family, and incredible friends. I can’t even begin to tell you how lucky I truly am for all of that. I feel honored that Mrs. H was part of my life, and gave me so many of those happy memories. She left this Earth far too soon, but Mama Terry’s memory will live on forever.