As I have shared previously, I have been worried about my mother’s impending visit, especially after last week’s little texting mix-up. Today was the day of her arrival.
[I keep saying her, when I should be saying “them,” as my father is here, too. But honestly, he’s completely outside the scope of my anxiety regarding all this. If my mother accepts me, he will follow.]
Perhaps fortuitously, the kids got to my apartment before my mom did, and they didn’t get picked up by my ex until after my parents left. As such, topics of my transgender status were more or less off-limits regardless of if my mother wanted to talk about them. Not that she would necessarily chose to bring them up first thing, but I was still glad that circumstances prevented it in any case. Instead, it was all smiles and hugs and kids playing and grandma giving them gifts and grandpa falling asleep on the sofa.
Monday is my birthday, and so we spent part of the day celebrating that. My parents gave me my gift (a FitBit, which I had more or less ordered on their behalf for them to give to me), we went out to eat (Red Robin, yuummmmm), and we had cake (chocolate, not a lie). Soon after my parents had to leave. Before they did, though, my mother handed me a totebag with some clothes folded inside. These were shirts that no longer fit my father — he’s lost a lot of weight in his old age — and she thought I could use some of them for work shirts. She had previously told me she was bringing these, so I didn’t think anything of it; I just set them aside and thanked her.
Then she pointed to the bag. “There’s one more thing in there,” she said suspiciously. “It’s just something I thought you’d want to have.”
We said our goodbyes and they were on their way. An hour or so later the kids were gone as well, and I finally had time to look inside the bag. What I found in the bottom was one of my Mom-Mom’s old muu muus.
We called my mother’s mother Mom-Mom instead of the traditional grandma, and we called her father Pop-pop. It was a bit of a tradition in my mother’s family, albeit one the current generation isn’t keeping; my kids and my nieces and nephews all call my parents grandma and grandpa.
My Mom-Mom and I were close. We were more than a bit like each other — I even look like her — and we shared both a temper and a sense of humor. I loved her intensely, and one of the biggest regrets of my life is the Christmas where I came down with a nasty stomach virus and had to cancel a trip to see her in her Florida home. Three months later she passed away and there were no more chances to see her. In the same month that she died, my ex and I found out that we were pregnant with what would become our first daughter; I named my daughter after Mom-Mom to honor her memory.
My Mom-Mom was always a large woman, made the worse by a number of medical conditions that left her with minimal mobility in her old age. Back in the day, women didn’t have Lane Bryant stores and Women Within websites from which to purchase fashionable large-cut clothes. Instead, women of a certain size generally relied on the loose cotton/poly dresses called dusters or muu muus.
As a kid, we only knew them as muu muus. And they were de rigueur with my Mom-Mom. If Mom-Mom was there, she was in a muu muu. Some of them were bright and gaudy; others were more subdued pastels. Some buttoned up the front, or the back; others pulled over the head. She had a closet full of them, and in all the years I knew her I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I saw her in anything else. Mom-Mom and muu muus were ubiquitous.
I knew my mother had a few of them stashed away somewhere as a remembrance of her mom; she had gotten them when they had sold Mom-Mom’s house. She had even made a joke about them to me once, when she found out I was shopping around for women’s clothes at Salvation Army. “No muu muus,” she’d laughed at the time. And I have followed her advice, even though muu muus do show up now and again in the thrift shop racks.
Mom-Mom is many years gone, and the muu muus haven’t really been a talking point. So, why give me the muu muu now? I think it was, in my mother’s way, a nod and a wink, a way of saying “It’s all okay.” She knows how close I was with my Mom-Mom. She also knew that I was embarrassed about last week’s mistake; and this was a way for her to make me smile and also to let me know that she’s not disappointed in me, not offended by me, not ready to turn me out. She’s my mom, and she’ll love me no matter what.
Mom-Mom’s muu muu is now tucked away in a dresser drawer, a keepsake of both my Mom-Mom and a reminder that my mom is on my side. I will keep you in suspense and not tell you if I tried the muu muu on prior to putting it away; some things are better left to guessing. Though I will tease you with this fact: the muu muu is in my size.