My incredible mama, Elaine Grundmeyer is, in the manner of most people, an incredibly complex individual whose personality cannot easily be distilled into simple elements. The following series of vignettes encapsulates the many seeming contradictions that contribute to the lady who is Elaine Grundmeyer, better known as, as she proclaims herself, “Sarah’s Mom”. It is my belief that people who are perplexed by the person I am may understand me better once they meet my mama. Our patterns of speech are very similar, as is our fashion sense (classically, glamorously elegant) in both arenas. While I have enhanced my naturally blonde hair to be platinum, she has enhanced her naturally blonde hair to Julianne Moore-esque red. With her luminous skin and delicate features, my mother very strongly resembles Scottish-American actress Julianne Moore.
She is a true lady, in every sense of the word, from her perfectly chosen attire, often accented by beautiful, locally designed hats, to her soft manner of speech and thoughtfully chosen words. She refuses, for example, to refer to Statler and Waldorf from The Muppet Show as a pair of two disagreeable old men who heckle the rest of the Muppet show cast from their balcony seats. To my mama, Waldorf and Statler are “the elderly muppets”.
Only last week, I received an “angry” voicemail from my mama where she questioned my choice to take an early Pilates lesson before work on a cold and rainy day. She was “quite puzzled by my choice” to do such a thing and clipped off her “rant” by snapping, “well, I hope you don’t get sick!”. My co-workers were so envious that this is how my mama snaps at me!
Perhaps the essence of my mama is most pithily captured by her e-mail address- firstname.lastname@example.org. My family can trace its French, German, English, Italian, Irish, Welsh, Spanish, Canary Island roots in New Orleans to the 1700s, which adds to the complexity of my mother’s inner workings. She is this incredible combination of Southern elegance and spirited rebel, which became clear when she matriculated at Berkley and UCLA 1966-1971. Although she was often tear gassed for protesting the Vietnam War, she would never refer to herself as a “hippie”, but instead as a “flowerchild”, because “hippies didn’t wear lipstick”! Anyone who knows Elaine and Sarah recognizes that we pale-faced flowerchildren certainly benefit from “a little paint”! In fact, I vividly remember being embarrassed when my mama came to walk me home from school one day without make-up. My mother’s beauty has always been a great source of pride for me. This sentiment seems to be the same for my mother, because she frequently greets me with the phrase, “Don’t worry, I have rouge in my purse!” No one was worried, Mama! I once read that French mothers in the 1700s found rouge extremely important to a lady’s appearance. My mama is obviously from this school of thinking. As I introduced my mother to the digital age, I helped her create an e-mail address. Each word was chosen very carefully by my mother. “Creole”, because we are, and, as my mother says, “If I were not French I would lose the will to live”, “flowerchild” because she’s a lipstick wearing hippie, and @yahoo.com because @hotmail.com “sounds too wild”.