“Sometimes you need a slap to appreciate a kiss…”

My sister Anne told me this one. She claims Dad used it occasionally but I have no memory of that. However, I can see my mother using it on a regular basis. What with nine children all wanting to glom to her. It’s a wonder the woman survived the stampede for affection. After all eight girls and one boy can require a lot of touching and affection. I however, do not remember my mother being the affectionate type. In the course of writing this piece, I realize a lot of things I never understood before. Hey, I was the seventh child, not exactly the first little dumpling to crave attention. And as far as my sisters and I stampeding my Mother for affection, well keep in mind my Ma weighed maybe 100 lbs. soaking wet. She had a size 5 shoe, while all but one of her beautiful daughters had taken after their father. To put a delicate point on it, at least we were each under 200 lbs. I can remember m  Ma stopping me a the door frame and asking ” What do you want?” ( I had the unfortunate distinction of stepping on her every time I tried to kiss her.) I also had size nine double EE feet. It’s no wonder my Mother preferred her dogs to us children. ( A paw is pretty tiny compared to a couple double EE’s.) Anyhow, she always played the bad cop to my father’s good cop. Which is pretty funny considering he really was a cop. Yeah, Dad retired as a Lieutenant from Cleveland Police Department. this was a man that could order and lead men. But when it came to his little girls he was a pretty soft touch. I can remember him going room to room when he first got home from work and telling whoever he found in that room (kitchen, living room, dining room etc…) that they were the prettiest girl in the world! Well by the time he reached the second floor our house was now a veritable palace,  a home where the most beautiful and talented girls in the world resided. Ma held a slightly different opinion, frequently called “Reality”. In fact, I only remember her ever commenting once on our appearance. She always focused on our brains and abilities. It would usually start when the report cards came home. She would inform us that she was at the top of her class and Dad had won a complete four year scholarship to John Carroll University, so we couldn’t use genetics as an excuse. I remember her informing me that she couldn’t even get a daycare to take me at this rate. NO it couldn’t be lack of brains that caused these grades, it must be slothfulness. Boy was she right. Yeah, she was always ready to call them as she saw them, I am so grateful Dad chose to wear rose colored glasses when it came to his girls. But my Mother’s ability of offset Dad’s unconditional love with strong doses or reality is really the thing that gave us as grown women the strength we needed to tackle this demanding realistic world. Even if we don’t meet the magazines picture of beauty or the professor’s grade…those few and eloquent comments of m Mother’s will stay with me always. While Mom’s reality bit a little close to the heart, we always had the security that Dad instinctively  knew we were wonderful. Quite a combo those two.

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