Her name was Dorothy - Dorothy Jean to be exact. Daddy often called her Dorothy Jane just to get a rise out of her. Many of her friends called her Dottie or Dot. Mostly, she just went by Dorothy. But we just called her "Mama".
She was many things to many people; she wore a lot of hats to be sure. Daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, coworker. Mama was always the first up each day and the last one to bed each night. She worked outside the home 8 - 5 each day, came home and cooked dinner EVERY night, cleaned the dishes, started the laundry, checked homework, and the list just went on and on and on. She never sat down. She never missed a PTA meeting, school play, awards ceremony, or parent teacher conference, and with the three of us, there were many of those to attend. I still don't know how she did it all. She worked hard, but she never complained. She loved us girls and it showed.
But above all else, when I think of Mama, I always remember what a lady she was.
- She never wore pants- only dresses or skirts. She only owned one pair of jeans and she despised them. I shudder to think what she would think of yoga pants.
- She wore makeup every day - NO MATTER WHAT. But looking back now I think she just had naturally beautiful skin. She only wore blush, mascara, and lipstick. Nothing more.
- She had really fair skin, a trait she passed on to all the Harris Sisters. Her skin was so pretty that it glowed. No wrinkles either. She did have freckles that she didn't care for very much. She passed those on to me only. I used to not like them either, but I do now. They are a constant reminder of her.
- Mama always wore perfume - usually Avon. She never left the house without it.
- She wore pantyhose every single day. She didn't even own a pair of socks. When she would occasionally don the pair of jeans to work in the yard, she would wear pantyhose underneath. Now that's dedication.
- Mama always wore high heels. She hated flats - thought they made her feet look bigger. She was 6 feet tall to start with, but would rather be taller with the heels than have her feet look too big.
- She always wore a necklace. She had several favorites and switched them out daily, but never left the house without one.
- Her nails were always polished. And they were never chipped. She used a Revlon polish- usually in a shimmery rose color. I can still see it now. She often sat up late at night working on her nails and would fall asleep on the couch waiting for them to dry. No quick drying polish back then.
- She wore aprons every day. She would put one on while cooking dinner and would wear it around the house all night.
- At night, she always wore a full length night gown, a robe, and slippers. No sloppy pj's for her. She called her slippers her "house shoes" and her robe her "house coat".
There were so many other wonderful things about Mama too.
- Her laugh was beyond wonderful. It was infectious, as anyone would tell you. She would laugh so hard she couldn't talk or hardly breathe, and when she tried to explain what she was laughing at, she would just laugh harder. Misty has that same laugh today. Donna has her smile. I have her disposition. I think we all have her sense of humor. When something is funny to one of the Harris Sisters, it is usually funny to all of us- even if no one else knows what the heck we are laughing at.
- She would tell you she wasn't a good cook. But I still make some of her recipes today. We all do. I miss her homemade biscuits that she made once a year on Thanksgiving Day. They were the best.
- She took her coffee with cream only, no sugar. Me too. She also used to let us have milk with coffee in it when we were kids. Now that was a treat. I'll bet it's still good, note to self- must try this again soon.
- She was a lefty. Harris Sister, Misty, is too. And now, Misty's daughter, Charlotte is also a southpaw. She had beautiful handwriting. She and Misty always sat together on one side of the table so they wouldn't bump elbows with the rest of us who were all righties.
- Even though she was left-handed, she did so many things with her right hand that many people considered her ambidextrous. For example, she would iron clothes right-handed. And those aforementioned painted fingernails? Well, those were always salon perfect on BOTH hands! But perhaps her most unusual talent was that she could flawlessly write her name forward with her right hand while simultaneously writing it backward (mirror image) with her left hand. It was a fascinating parlor trick that we girls often tried to duplicate, but we never quite managed.
- She took us to church on Sundays, and helped us say our prayers at night. She taught us right from wrong.
- Mama always taught us the importance of knowledge, education, and learning. She was a smart lady and wanted to be sure we were too. She taught us things like how to spell antidisestablishmentarianism, one of the longest words in the English language, when we were in second grade. We Harris Sisters have all inherited her love of knowledge in our own special ways. I will be the FIRST to tell you that I was the only Harris Sister to ever actually win a Spelling Bee, Misty currently homeschools her two daughters in all subject areas, and Donna turned her love of grammar into a career as a copy editor and proofreader at a well-known publisher.
- She would probably hate the picture I used of her above. I hope she will forgive me, but I love it. Beautiful smile, cute pose, forever young. That's Mama.
Above all else, you were a good mom - the best. You taught us how to be good mothers too. So on this Mother's Day - and always, Mama, we remember you, we miss you, we love you, and we will see you again.
Donna, Deanna, and Misty