The lipstick that changed her world
- Written by Patsy Oliver
Imagine yourself trapped in a house with no transportation, for years at a time, with three kids. I’m sure that worse things could happen ... but at this exact moment in time, I can’t think of any. This was the life of my Cute Little German Mother for many years. You see, my mother did not know how to drive. There was no need for it in Berlin, where she lived before she came here and married my father. Her family didn’t even own a car. When I was a child we had one car, and my dad took it to work every day. On the weekends or on an occasional weeknight, Dad would take Mom, and the three of us, to the store or wherever we needed to go. Doctors’ appointments were a whole other story, and came with plenty of obstacles of their own, I’m sure. But I was blissfully unaware of most of this. Kids take things for granted. And my sisters and I were no exceptions. After I became an adult, I had a completely new understanding of my Cute Little German Mother’s passion for Avon. For the love of all things good! The poor thing finally had access to cosmetics, at home ... no husband tapping his foot and waiting for her to hurry up and let him go play golf, or chess, or just relax with a book. Now, she still had three kids running around, but we knew better than to interfere with Mom’s Avon encounters. She ordered lipsticks, foundations, eye shadows, bath products, jewelry ... you name it, she bought it. Dad never complained about the expense. He was a very smart man, and the risk was certainly far outweighed by the benefits. My Cute Little German Mother was an Avon lady’s dream. I can still see the two of them sitting on the couch. The Avon lady would open her case, take out the latest book, reveal an assortment of free samples, and the shopping would begin. I liked to watch. And often I would come away with a new lip gloss, shaped like a Coke bottle or something. I also loved the Avon lady. If she had mosquito nets in that bag, my mom would have bought one. It’s funny the things we take for granted. I know my mother was not the only house-bound homemaker in those days. She was, however, one of the rare few who could not drive. Most of the others could at least run their errands when their husbands came home with the car. These women were pioneers in my book. And although Valium may have been readily available back in the day, they certainly didn’t have the pharmaceutical extravaganza that today’s mothers have within easy grasp. If you had postpartum depression, you could take a Valium and leave your newborn unattended for a while, or you could try your best to get through it with little assistance. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I have an even deeper respect for the trials my mother has come through. Those years with no transportation, she tells me today were some of the best days of her life. She loved being a mother. She loved caring for her family. Every last, ungrateful one of us. She had already been through a war, with numerous tragedies that affected her directly. She did eventually learn to drive when she was in her 40s. Sweet liberty ... Dad didn’t know how to take it. Now the Little Cutie still drives on occasion, but she’s usually stuck in the house during the day. Her health is not as good as it once was, so she often doesn’t feel it would be safe to drive. The other day, I was in a little business and I saw some Avon catalogs on a table near the window. I took them home to my mother. I think I should tell her to go crazy ... order anything and everything she wants. She deserves it.