Dear Souls…Feel Good Feelings

Dear Souls in Earthsuits,

Since my mom passed away, I work hard at focusing on the love of her, rather than the lack of her… what comes to mind the most was how she made me feel almost all of the time while I was growing up.  And that can be summed up in one simple word.

Good.

My mom gave me that “feel good” feeling on a regular basis.  And I cannot thank her enough.

I remember my first “feel good” experience.  I was 4 years old and I was dressed up in a frilly, lacey, Martha Miniature dress.  I had white tights with frills across my bottom.  My mom says she had to find underwear and tights with pretty things on the butt because I would lift the bottom of my dress and promptly put it in my mouth, bearing whatever was underneath.  She couldn’t break me of it before I had to, unavoidably, be seen in public… so if you can’t beat ’em, make sure the dysfunction appears with ruffles, and all will be forgiven.  I wore black patent leather shoes that, to me, sounded like tap shoes and I would dance across any hard surface I could find.
The “feel good” part came when my mother sat me on top of the upright piano at my little, country, Southern Baptist church.  As soon as she placed the microphone in my hand and the music started, I had a feeling of elation – a feeling a 4 year old could not understand – I thought I was going to cry… but I wasn’t scared.  I sang “Down by the Creekbank” and to this day, I can still sing the chorus.  It was my debut, and it is the cause of the stage addiction I currently retain today.

Thanks, mom.

When I was about 6 years old, my mom bought me a little plastic purse that looked like the back side of a pair of pants.  It had the two pockets similar to a pair of jeans on the front, and the top resembled a waistband complete with belt loops.  I carried it with me everywhere.  There wasn’t really anything of significance in it, the purse held its own significance.  I’d exchange its contents on a regular basis to fit whatever it was I was doing at the time; Pez and crayons one day, Matchbox cars and Juicy Fruit the next – although, there was always a little stack of Kleenex within its contents.  My grandma always had Kleenex, so I thought it was standard purse etiquette.
I don’t think it was specifically the purse that spurred the “feel goodness”, but when I would be ready to go somewhere, I would pick up my “pants purse” and I felt important; like I had things in my life that were so vital that I had to keep them in a contained parcel and carry it with me. What I remember the most is the scent of the purse.  Even now, if I catch a whiff of that same kind of plastic, I get the same feeling.  My lips can’t help but curl up in a little smile and my chest expands.  I get a little fidgety and want to giggle.  I’m 6 years old again.

Thanks, mom.

When I was in the 2nd grade, my class went on a field trip to Grant’s Farm.  The best part was that my mom was taking the day off to go with me.  The worst part is that she agreed to take Tammy in our group.  Tammy was the girl that was hard to be friends with.  She was mean most of the time, she didn’t get along with the teachers, let alone other students, she was the “smelly girl”, she got bad grades, and she was… not my friend.  I couldn’t understand why my mother would agree to take my “not friend” in our group.
The morning we left, I was excited that my mom was spending the day with me, and I was irritated that I had to share her with Tammy.  As the day went on, I suddenly realized that Tammy was not talking back, she wasn’t being spiteful, and we were actually… having fun. She liked my mom – well, of course she did – my mom was the music teacher.  Who doesn’t love the music teacher?  My mom knew this.
She told me later, “Maybe she misses her mom…”
I had a guilty feeling at first, but realizing my mom could change a person so positively, gave way to a “feel good” moment.

Thanks, mom.

When I was in the third grade, my mom took my sister and I to the Vandalia Municipal Pool for swimming lessons.  We would go swimming every summer… I already knew how to swim.  I couldn’t understand why she would be getting us lessons now.  (I can probably bet every penny I have that it was just the fact that she could have a couple of hours every morning without kids.)
The staff was unsure of where we were, skill wise, and we had to pass a number of tests to determine what class level we would join.  My sister, two years younger than me, passed every test and got in line with the advanced swimmers.  I, however, got stuck on the high dive test.  All I had to do was jump off and swim to the side.  I could do the swim part; it was the jump part I was unsure of.  I stood at the end of the board and waited for some miracle to either get me out of it, or give me the sudden courage to leap.
All of a sudden I heard a voice, loud and clear.  It was my mother.  She was standing outside the perimeter, her face against the chain link fence.
“Summer!!” she yelled.  “I’ll take you to McDonalds!”
That was all I needed.  When I resurfaced from my leap of faith and swam to the edge, my “feel good” feeling was roaring.  I’d done it… and I was going to MCDONALDS!

Thanks, mom.

When I was 15, I remember waking up at 7am on a Saturday to my mother’s question, “Summer… are you going to go to the lifeguard training?  Come on, get up.  I’ll take you.”
I didn’t ask questions. I got up, got ready, and got in the car.  Lifeguard training was something I never saw myself doing.  My friend was the trainer who, ironically, gave me swimming lessons in the 3rd grade.  If she thought I could do it, I guess I thought I might as well try – although I wasn’t confident that I would actually finish.
It wasn’t as hard as I had anticipated and I trained fairly well; until my last and final test.  I had to swim the length of the Olympic sized pool in 14 seconds.  You could take the test as many times as you wanted, but after two or three… or seven times, one tends to fatigue. So when the eighth time rolled around, I had virtually decided that was it.  No lifeguard license, no kick-ass summertime job.
All of a sudden I heard a voice, loud and clear.  It was my mother.  She was standing outside the perimeter, her face against the chain link fence.
“Summer!!” she yelled.  “I’ll take you to McDonalds!”
That was all I needed.  When I emerged on the far side of that Olympic sized pool, and my trainer was smacking my head, screaming, “YOU DID IT! YOU DID IT! 14 SECONDS EXACTLY!” – The “feel good” feeling was insurmountable.  I’d done it… and I was going to MCDONALDS!

Thanks, mom.

By now I am very aware and conscious of “feel good” moments –there are 1000 more “feel good” moments that I’ve experienced, mostly on account of my mother – hopefully there thousands more to come.  Thanks to my mom, I can recognize them as they come.  I can distinguish them before they actually hit me, and I open up my arms and let it plow into me like a Mack truck.   And – I am able to determine what I can do to make sure someone else has a “feel good” moment, because my mom made sure to instill in me that giving “feel good” moments is a “feel good” moment in and of itself.

Thanks, mom.

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