When my mother told me that clothes made the woman, she was wearing a ragged housecoat with a pack of Pall Malls in the pocket and a rip on the sleeve. Her knees were red from scrubbing our old linoleum floor with a mixture of lye and laundry soap
When my mother told me to cram all the book learning in my head that I could, she was standing over an ironing board pressing my daddy’s work shirts with one eye on her soap opera – The Guiding Light – and the other on my baby brother who was running around the kitchen with a wet diaper hanging from his backside.
When my mother told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be she was scrubbing our clothes on an old laundry board. The water was cold and her knuckles were red.
When my mother told me that she wrote me every day in her mind and I was the only one of her kids she never worried about, it had been five years since I had seen her face. Two months later she would die before my mother could ever tell me anything again