I have said that my mother spoiled me when I was little. It’s easy to say but hard to explain what I mean by this.
Think about the time. It was the early 60s and my mother was a single woman. Nowadays, single motherhood has become so common that people don’t blink an eye when they ask me if my three children share the same baby-daddy. Back in the 60s, being a single mother was still, if not quite scandalous, at least a bit tainted. She lied about my father, saying he had died, because being a widow was more acceptable than the possibility that someone might think her a whore.
The first six years of my life, we lived on the lower Eastside in a cold water walk-up in a railway apartment. She couldn’t afford a cradle and lay me in a drawer she had pulled from a dresser. We had few luxuries. I grew up without a television and she went without dental care. But I never remember being bored or believed I couldn’t have anything I wanted.
I wish I had some photos of those early Christmas days, the tree surrounded with gifts. The sheer volume of gifts is outrageous. Only one child in the home and there would be twenty or more gifts, not to mentioned those overstuffed tights.
One year she bought me a Madam Alexander doll. Now, if you are unfamiliar with these dolls, they are not cheap. Even the low end dolls, the ones not released in limited editions, they run about $200 for the larger sizes and my mother always bought me the larger ones. I had an Alice in Wonderland doll. A Degas doll. A ballerina. A bride. A bridesmaid. And last but not least a Scarlett O’Hara. Year after year, she gave me a new Madam Alexander doll.
It’s hard to even imagine the sacrifices my mother made to ensure I had these dolls for so many years. And these not even equal to the sacrifices she made to her integrity, this woman who valued honesty above all over virtues, every time she spoke the lie that my father had died to shield me from a societal stigma I was too young to understand. She never taught me about the miracle of the Virgin Birth and such but made my holidays miraculous nonetheless.