One day Babe and I were discussing why some people we knew were so unhappy and cranky. I asked her, “Why do you think I turned out so happy?”
“Because you take after me,” she said.
That’s when the idea of Lessons from Babe was born. I’d been a 70’s bell-bottom-wearing, Ms.-magazine-writing daughter who was sorely disappointed with my stay-at-home, housewife mom. She seemed so behind the times. I’d look at her and think, Lord, I do not want to turn out like that!
But half a century later, I’ve lived long enough to realize how seriously I underestimated her. Maybe we weren’t members of such different generations after all. She might have had stewed rhubarb and tomato aspic salad in her fridge while I had organic kale and soy milk in mine, but maybe in more important ways we were much closer in spirit than I’d thought. And at ninety-five and a half, she’d put up with me long enough to hear me start singing her praises publicly in a Houston magazine.
I called Mom Babe, because she asked me to—she disliked her given name, Gladys. Besides, Babe was fun to say, and it suited her. She was the youngest in her family, the baby. But even after she’d outlived three sisters, her husband, and everybody else, the name still fit. She was some Babe.