A stick of gum for Mother’s Day

When a large family meant a Ford station wagon

Our large family meant a Ford station wagon

My earliest memories of travel meant loading up at daybreak in the back of the family station wagon with three of my sisters and armloads of pillows stuffed in between.

While our parents planted themselves in the front we bundled together in the rear.

We’d drive hundreds of miles from Southern California to visit the cousins up north.

After the sun rose we’d rearrange the car, sit on the vinyl seats and stare out the windows as we wound up and around the Pacific Ocean.

About half-way I’d get car-sick.

My parents each rolled down a front window and blew their cigarette smoke into the wind.

I’d fix my eyes on the road ahead: trees, rocks, signs—anything to distract me from my stomach.

Even the songs—Kumbaya and Michael Row the Boat Ashore—couldn’t curb the nausea.

My mum or dad—whoever was driving–would stop by the side of the road while one of us vomited outside—usually me—and my mother would give me a stick of Doublemint gum to soothe my tummy.

Today, on mother’s day, I’m thinking of little things that mean mother.

For me, it meant searching through her purse and finding gems and trinkets: a coin purse, a lipstick, tissues with lipstick marks, Salem cigarettes, a set of keys, another set of keys, a book of S&H green stamps, a bottle of aspirin, a head-scarf and a packet of gum.

One sniff of mint gum and memories of my mother unfurl.

For my sisters and brothers




About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in american indian, authenticity, family values, Mothers Day, Osage, writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A stick of gum for Mother’s Day

  1. Yes, its the little thongs. Sweet.


  2. So familiar and evocative! Car sickness…… and mother.


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