In memory of my mother's career as an educator, we are going to have a short grammar lesson today. But before you get too relaxed, we're also going to end with a psychological evaluation. So get out your pencils and blue books, and let's get started.
Adjectives are used to describe the characteristics of a thing. For example, if I were to describe my mother, I might say she was LOVING. She showed her loving nature by an uncountable number of deeds.
Or I might say she was FUNNY. She had a wry sense of humor. She wasn't "stand-up comedian, joke-telling" funny. She just thought of clever comments at just the right time. For example, it seemed like our dining room table at home was always covered with papers, and she spent hours going through them and organizing them. One day Charisse declared that they had both been doing too much "office work," and they should stop and do something creative like painting. Mom paused for a second, then said, "I'm actually pretty creative when I'm organizing my papers!"
(By the way, If you think I am showing off by using big words like "psychological" and "adjective," I can assure I did not learn to show off from my mother.) So we can use the adjective HUMBLE to describe her. She was so unassuming, I doubt that most people who knew her were aware of her wide range of skills and abilities.
Because she casually amazed Carol, Cheryl, and Charisse with terms and phrases like Tempus Fugit, circuitous, and precipice, one might select the adjective LOQUACIOUS. By the way, tempus fugit certainly applies today - the Latin phrase means "time flies."
Finishing out the adjectives, no one would deny that she was BEAUTIFUL, whether she was dressed in a suit or hoeing weeds in the garden. And that beauty stayed with her as she aged.
Verbs describe action or being. You can tell a lot about a person by their actions. For example, she CLIMBED. As in ladders. Up to the roof, to clean off leaves. And did so even recently.
She set an example for all of us through the use of the verb READING. No remembrance of my Mom would be complete without mentioning National Geographic magazine, the Reader's Digest, and Guideposts, those perennial staples of the Bedingfield library.
She also SAWED, as in plywood, using a circular saw, or as in molding using a miter box. A quickly as it was prudent, she delegated most of the sawing to me, until I moved away from home, then she picked it back up whenever she needed something cut to fit.
She also SEWED prolifically. She made outfits for the girls, and Charisse may well have been the first CHS Homecoming Queen to wear a homemade dress. Not long after the homecoming appearance, Cheryl wore that same dress to a job interview. It must have worked, because she's been working at that job for 35 years. And last year, Mom sent Carol a half-dozen outfits that she made for her about that same time. They not only still fit, they still look good!
In addition to sewing, Mom also SWAM regularly in our back yard above-ground pool. I suppose it was part of the exercise regimen that she did her whole life. When she and Dad finally removed the pool, Mom just added an exercise bicycle to her daily workout.
And she STYLED, as in hair. Not just my sisters' hair, but she cut my hair until I was fortunate enough to marry my own stylist.
But perhaps best of all, she FED multitudes. She was a practical cook, making simple dishes that quickly became tradition, such as her creamed eggs, which were rated "best in the country" by some of her guests. And ice cream dishes before bed! Dad loved them, and so did she. She alternated between banana splits, chocolate milk shakes (Bunchie's favorite!), and plain vanilla with chocolate syrup. And her cooking naturally led to the collection of sayings immortalized on her kitchen wall, including:
Nouns name a person, place, or object. Objects are often known by multiple names - take for example, Mike Bedingfield, who was a DAUGHTER, SISTER, AUNT, WIFE, MOTHER, and TEACHER, to mention just a few.
Another way to use nouns to describe something is called a metaphor. A metaphor is a noun that is applied to an object to provide a unique perspective on that object.
For example, I might say of my mother that she is the AIR. I would mean that she surrounded us, and was essential to our lives, but was often not noticed, until she called us to supper, or made us brush our teeth.
Or I could say that she was our FOUNDATION. Much like the concrete blocks and bricks she and Dad laid to build the fireplace, she provided unwavering support for her husband and children.
Or, observing how she wrapped a particular U. S. Marine around her little finger, and taught him how to behave, you might say she was a LION TAMER. Of course, it worked both ways - when they started dating, she was just beginning to take flying lessons. He pretty quickly talked her out of that pursuit.
That's probably enough for today's grammar lesson. You can start to put away your pencils and notebook, and get ready for the psych question, while I make a few more observations.
It is the nature of life to grow up and move away, and start your own family. Mom loved her little family. This was the lady who cried all the way home after she and Dad dropped me off at Ga Tech to start my freshman year. But as I built a life and family of my own, she was always gracious. She was so gracious in fact, that she sometimes apparently forgot my name, frequently calling me for some unknown reason, "Carson."
With Methodist Missionaries as parents, and an Aunt who was a Methodist Deaconess, it was probably inevitable that her Christian beliefs would form an integral part of her life. Her faith was not something she pulled out "in case of emergency", but it was a daily walk for her. You've probably seen the verses she posted around her kitchen. As she was caring for Dad in his last years, she constantly wrote little notes of explanation to him, and those notes often included a familiar verse or phrase. These signs of faith were from her heart, and they reflected the positive, loving attitude she had during her entire life.
There are so many stories each of us could share about Mike, about good times we had together, and about the life lessons we learned from her, certainly too many for me to share right now. So I encourage you to continue to share those stories with each other, and with us, her family, any way you can. We would love to hear them.
So now, it's time for the psychological evaluation. Take a deep breath, relax, clear your mind, and answer this question: what principle guides your actions? What metric do you use to decide what to do in a given situation?
Of course there are many answers. Some would fit neatly on a bumper sticker, or a refrigerator magnet. (Speaking of which, did you ever see my Mom's collection of refrigerator magnets? I think she and Dad had to add extra bracing to the fridge to keep it from falling on its face!) So you might have a "magnet" or "bumper sticker" principle to guide your life. Or you may have some other standard by which you live.
As for my Mother, I heard a story a few days ago that answered that question on her behalf for me. After Mom had called Charisse about her stroke symptoms, after the EMTs had arrived, and while they were all busy figuring out the easiest way to get her onto a gurney and into the ambulance, she was sitting on the couch, and, thank God, McLendon was sitting there with her, comforting her. And he heard her say, "I don't know, it's not my fault. Did I do anything wrong? It's not me is it? This isn't me."
I confess, when I heard that story, it knocked the breath out of me. I thought about her words a lot. Then I remembered a few things that helped. First, Mom was in the middle of a stroke when she said those words. We have no way to know what she meant, what she was thinking, or what she was feeling. Second, in the hours and days that followed, the people that gathered around her in the hospital, her family and friends, took every possible opportunity to reassure her that what had happened was out of her control, that we loved her very much, and that we wanted her to rest and get better. And she often responded with three tight hand squeezes. She and Dad used those squeezes to say to each other, "I love you", even during the waning days of his life. So much love.
So why would I tell you a story that is so personal, and so hard to hear? I tell you because of what the story reminded me. It was something I had never actually verbalized about my Mom, but something that seems so obvious when you hear it.
My Mother's guiding principle was to do the Right Thing. She always tried to do the right thing in the eyes of her God, and her husband, in the eyes of her children, and her friends, and in the eyes of the world. It makes those questions she asked in that painful story almost laughable. My mother spent her whole life doing the right thing, and the only time she wasn't sure about it was when something completely out of her control happened to her. And even then, her response was text-book perfect.
She did the Right Thing.
In closing, I believe I can safely speak for Mike Bedingfield's entire family, and for her friends, acquaintances, and coworkers. We were blessed to have known her, and to call her friend, Mama B, and Mom.Back to Menu