Family Traditions Intact

📅 March 20, 2020

May 1988 the Florida Times-Union requested Mother’s Day stories from its readers. I submitted this story, which was published with a photo, captioned: “Virginia Arends (left) chats with her daughter, Holly Bebernitz, while 2 ½- year-old Ethan plays in his grandmother’s yard.” I found a laminated copy of the article in my mother’s files, when we moved her possessions to my house, following her transition to assisted living.

My mother should have known better than to boast to a friend about the set of matching bowls.

“I’ve had them for years, and I’ve never broken one,” she said.

Such a statement only tempts disaster.

Sure enough, within the week, my clumsy 8-year-old fingers had managed to drop one of those very bowls. Since I had heard my mother’s statement and the note of pride in her voice, I just knew I had ruined her life.

As I sobbed, broken-hearted, my mother asked what was wrong.

I wailed. “I broke your bowl. You said you never broke one and I broke it.”

“Now, you stop that,” she said. “Don’t you think I love you more than I love that bowl?”

Years later, all grown up, married and the mother of three, I was sewing a fancy apron to hang on a decorative hook in the kitchen. My son, Aaron, about the age I was when I broke the bowl, laid a yellow highlighter on the kitchen table where I was sewing. Of course, the cap was off. By the time I had applied a cumbersome ruffle to one side of the apron and flipped it over for inspection, a glaringly obvious yellow spot had appeared on the other ruffle.

I gasped. The whole household came running to see what was wrong.

Aaron was deeply sorry and continued to apologize throughout the evening.

“I’m sorry, Mama.”

Well-taught, instead of scolding—“Why can’t you be more careful?”—I said, “Don’t you think I love you more than I love that apron?”

When I related this story to my mother, I was surprised to discover she had no memory of the incident of the broken bowl or how she responded.

But I remember.

I hope Aaron will remember the apron.

Family traditions ought to be passed on. 

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Holly Bebernitz

Native Texan Holly Bebernitz moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 1967. After thirty years of teaching speech, English, and history on the secondary and college levels, she retired from classroom teaching to become a full-time grandmother. The change in schedule allowed the time needed to complete the novel she had begun writing in 1998. When Trevorode the Defender was published in March 2013, the author realized the story of the Magnolia Arms was not yet complete.