My mother had many talents. She was a social butterfly, a great cook and baker, a linguist, a learner, a craftswoman. (Putting that in writing, I now have material for my next few blog posts.)
My impression of my mother's social skills originates with stories and pictures that happened before my time, stories that I began to hear in my adolescence when my own social life didn't parallel hers. My mother was a Catholic school attendee from kindergarten through high school graduation--and her high school was segregated by gender. But that didn't stop her from attending homecoming dances and proms as a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior.
I didn't attend any of my homecoming dances or proms. Feeling gawky and uncoordinated despite taking modern dance for P.E., I never hit the dance floor for recreation until college. It took reaching the legal drinking age for that to happen! I did attend my first and only formal as a co-ed service fraternity member. My mother's joy was palpable over the phone when I asked for extra allowance to buy a gown for the dance. I had professional pictures done in that gown, just for her...and maybe for myself, to prove I had a little of that "Cinderella at the ball" in me, too.
My mother was courted often, and I have it on good authority that my father's was not her first marriage proposal. It was the only one that resulted in a wedding, however. She must have loved him fiercely, because her parents disapproved of my father's lowly rank in the Army, and didn't attend the ceremony.
Fast forward to the memories I do have of my mother's outgoing ways. Wherever our military life took us, she was quick to make friends. I remember my parents attending and hosting lots of parties. When I reached school age, I was verbally advanced enough to hold my own in some adult discussions, and my parents would allow me to hang out for awhile before bedtime, eating chips and onion dip, listening to the banter and laughter and talking about the latest field trip to places that now seem so exotic but were common to our fellow expatriates.
My parents always had a life outside of their children's activities, and so empty nesting was not really an issue when my brother and I were both successfully following our adult paths. There were wine tastings and group tours, more parties to attend and hold, service organizations that filled their time. She was active until her health dictated otherwise.
I cannot say I have lacked for friendship, but my introverted ways must have puzzled and possibly worried my mother a bit. I can thank her for pointing out the importance of having a social network, the joy and support it brings to share both celebrations and sorrows. While I certainly do not measure up to her social butterfly standards, I can strive to be more attuned to those around me, to offer help, and maybe more importantly, to be open to receiving support when I need it.