I remember mama
The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
May 11, 2019
As we go to press this week, people are preparing to celebrate their mothers. Flowers, candies, cards, brunches and memories will be flowing. Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation in 1914 designating the second Sunday of May as a national holiday to honor the mothers of this nation.
It’s not a new idea to take a book, make it into a play, maybe a musical or two, and eventually into a heartwarming movie. It’s been happening for years. What might seem a non-typical main character choice would be that of a Norwegian immigrant mother. In 1943, as the world was reeling from war and carnage, Kathryn Forbes wrote a little story titled “Mama’s Bank Account.”
John Van Druten wrote the stage play and in 1948 the nation embraced, “I Remember Mama” when the story hit the big screen, starring Irene Dunne as the invincible Norwegian mother in early 1900 San Francisco.
Hardships are not new experiences for immigrants. The new kid on the block always gets kicked around. It was no different with Norwegians, or the Irish and Italians as they took their turns being the different ones moving in. But the dream and hopes of being American has always risen strong, with people striving to get past the obstacles of discrimination and fear as they make the leap.
Immigrants push forward for better lives for their children. That is what Mama wanted for hers. So she worked hard to help her children fit into America as well as keep alive their own national heritage and traditions. Immigrants blend in but don’t disappear, making the fabric of American life richer and deeper and vibrant. Never stagnant.
Who wouldn’t want Mama on their side? She sneaks into a hospital at night and sings her young daughter to sleep, along with all the other children in the hospital ward. She exchanges recipes with a distinguished writer and chef. She scrubs her floors spotless and keeps her curtains crisp. She gives her family security when she herself worries about finances. She gets them through tough spots and is there for all the celebrations. With a pot of coffee always at the ready. Bless those Norwegians, our segue to coffee shops everywhere!
I remember mama, my mama, whose father was a Norwegian immigrant. Reading this book and watching the movie had me remembering my first cup of coffee with my parents. It is a Norwegian right-of-adulthood moment. Feeling so grown up, you take the first sip and either you instantly fall in love or experience immediate distaste. Mine was the former. I’ve loved coffee ever since.
And who is your Mama? In case you are searching for a mother figure in your current life, let P.D. Eastman help you out. In “Are You My Mother,” little bird searches high and low and finds many possibilities. A mother is someone who makes us feel safe, protects us from harm, fills our tummies with warmth and goodness and holds us in both tears and happiness.
We all need a mother year around, whether our birth mother is still with us or not. Celebrate mothers always, that person who holds you tight and fights like crazy when you need it.
*Midge Lyn’dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.