When I was a little girl, the sun rose and set on my mother. She was so beautiful. I remember watching her get dressed, put on her makeup, the girdle, the nylons, the tight dresses and the high heel shoes. I clearly remember the beehive hairdo and the pink dress with the neru collar. She was always stylin’ that Josie DeYonker—always looking good in the latest fashion and a new hair color and hair style for every season….we must have gone to Udell’s beauty shop every Saturday for most of our young lives and sat there reading magazines and running around and pretending we were getting our hair dry sitting under the hair dryers while Mom got her hair done.
In the summertime when we were very young and it was hot outside, she’d give us a bath in the concrete tub in the basement, dry us off, comb our hair and then put our pj’s on and let us sit on the front porch watching the cars go by, taking in the scenery and the other kids playing. We were in bed by 7pm. We would say, “But the Marchioni’s are still playing”, and Mom would say, “Well you’re not a Marchioni”. Indeed we are not. Later as we got a little older she’d send us outside to play and tell us not to come back until the street lights were on!
Mom couldn't carry a tune, but she always sang with us anyway, the Itsy Bitsy Spider, This Old Man, I’m a Little Tea Pot, When You Wish Upon A Star ....Just before bed, Mom would read us a story, Mother Goose, the Little Golden Books and Dr Suess….., and then we would say our prayers-“Oh angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits thee here, ever this day be at my side to light, to love, to help and guide.” And then we would ask God to bless our mother and our father, our sisters and our brothers, our grandmas and grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins, God bless everybody in the whole wide world and God bless us (me). Then she would cross our foreheads-God bless you and God keep you (in Flemish, of course, which sounds like, but isn’t necessarily spelled- het zey-ende and het pawoulda).
Our house was always clean and well organized in my memory. Every Spring or was it Summer, my mother would take the dining room table out into the backyard and hose it down and take a toothpick to get the dirt out of the grooves. She is Belgian, after all, and in the old country not only do they wash their sidewalks, the women iron underwear, too. Phew that is some cultural mandate to live up to…..good thing she got over that ;-)!
Mom used to take us grocery shopping one at a time. To avoid the other kids, she would sneak one of us out of the house by taking our pj’s with us down toward the basement and pretend she was just going to get us ready for bed. And then we would sneak out and just be with Mom.
Jacobsen’s was my mother’s favorite department store and after the shopping, we’d go get something to eat, usually a Sanders hot fudge ice cream sundae.