Friday, May 16, 2008

Lessons fom Mom - Jeannette Amick

This is a little long by blog standards, but well worth the read! This is written by my Aunt Jeannette about my Granny. I only wish I had picture I could post.

Zinaida Vladimirovna Kossenko Dakiniewicz. Isn’t that a mouthful to carry around one’s whole life? Well, she did it beautifully, my mom; but this isn’t a story of a woman with such a long name. This is simply a few pages of a daughter’s memories of times gone by. Memories of special moments that are imprinted in our memory banks to be brought out and read whenever needed.

Looking back, I don’t recall ever thinking of Mom as knowing all the answers, or solving all my problems. One morning, when I was a freshman in High School, I woke up with an awful stomach ache. The problem was caused by the math test I wasn’t prepared for. The remedy for that was simply to stay home, study for the make up test, and read my Nancy Drew novel for the rest of the day. Mom would write an excuse for me tomorrow morning. Problem solved!

The next morning she handed me the note in a sealed envelope. Why a sealed envelope? Oh well. I put it in my school bag and left. When I got to my homeroom, I handed Sister the note. She read it, smiled, and said, “Class, I would like you to listen to this note from a mother who truly cares about her daughter.” My heart did a double flip as I asked God to let me die right now! Of course He didn’t comply as Sister read in her loudest voice, “Dear Sister Maura, Jeannette has absolutely no excuse for missing school yesterday. Mrs. John Dakiniewicz.”

I could feel the laughter and snickers rolling around my shoulders and neck before they actually reached my ear drums. That was the only sound I heard until Sister Maura’s voice interrupted my misery. “You may think it’s funny girls, but this is the most honest note I have received in years. Do you really think we are fooled by some of your ridiculous excuses for absences?”As I looked around the class, I noticed more sheepish looks than not. I felt pretty good that day, and never had a mathematical stomach ache again.

I was fourteen when I asked her something pertaining to sex. Mom was cooking dinner and my question caught her off guard for a second. She said, “We’ll talk about this tonight.” Later on, Mom came into my room dressed in her pajamas and carrying a porcelain container that held her bobby pins. I was very surprised to see her plop on my bed and cross her legs Indian fashion. “Remember our conversation in the kitchen?”
“What conversation?”
“Oh Jeannette! You know…the question?”
“Oh yeah, that’s okay, it’s not important.” My face was hot and I wanted her to leave. Oh no! Now she was putting her hair up in pin curls.
“I was wondering when you were going ask questions about sex. I suppose this is as good a time as any to have this talk.”
“That’s okay Mommy, we don’t have to. Oh gosh, look at the time. I have lots of homework.”
“Remember the story of Adam and Eve?” She wasn’t even listening to me! “Well it wasn’t an apple that God was forbidding.” She talked and talked and pinned her hair.
I vaguely remember saying things like. “You and Daddy? That’s disgusting! How could you?”
“Do you still think the stork found you under a cabbage leaf?” she asked.
“Of course not! But, Daddy?” Well, she talked softly and steadily until my thoughts calmed down. By the time we were ready for bed, I felt very grown up and knew there would be more questions for her tomorrow.

I saw my parents struggling to make ends meet. They both worked; Dad, as a mechanic for a Chrysler dealership, and Mom as a secretary at Underwood Corporation. After the bills were paid, there wasn’t much left for anything else, but I never heard complaints about the high cost of living or fighting over the bills. Our little two bedroom home was too small to keep secrets from each other. I knew how much money we didn’t have, and how hard Mom tried to make life pleasant for us; not just the three of us, but for my sister and her family who were struggling too. Wanda, Ray and their three children lived in Elkton, Maryland. Ray was in the Army.

Being a teenager made it hard to understand completely, but years later those lessons came through when I really needed them to. Looking back, I see that I learned to live without the latest fads, and it didn’t hurt one bit. The fads came and went, and my friends never paid attention to the fact that I wasn’t wearing a poodle skirt or an angora sweater. They just thought I followed my own style. Today I still ‘follow my own style.’

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