Apron Strings

By Diane DeVaughn Stokes

Apron Strings

Now don’t go thinking just because I entitled this piece “Apron Strings” that I’m going to write about spending time in the kitchen with my mom as a kid. No way. That memory is all about my grandmother who loved to cook and gave me the passion I have for creativity in the kitchen. My mom had to work since my father left when I was nine months old. We lived with my grandparents, and I thank God for them everyday. There is no memory of my mom slaving away in the kitchen to put dinner on the table.

Nevertheless, my mom and I are joined at the hip and those “apron strings” that folks refer to when talking about getting loose from a parent, are still very much attached. I’m here to tell you we slept in the same bed until Mom remarried my wonderful new dad. I remember on their honeymoon, yes they took me with them, I said “Pete, where are you going sleep?” when we entered the hotel room, seeing only one bed. And Pete responded with a point of the finger, “You are going to sleep there on the couch!” Ouch! I have to admit I resented him at first, but grew to love him over the years. I was only eight and half years old, and my mom was EVERYTHING to me! I did not want to share her. Mom understood that and did all she could to make sure I felt special.

When I was ten, I was invited to a pajama party with my girlfriends, but I did not want to go because I was fearful of being away from Mom. And yet it was she who encouraged me to go by saying if I got homesick she would come and get me without question. At the last minute I decided to go after begging and pleading from my friends, but I was nauseated all night, calling Mom three times just to hear her voice.

Camp? Forget about it. The thought of leaving Mom’s side for a week was unthinkable. However, in 1968 I was selected to go to a citizenship camp representing my high school and all expenses were paid, even my travel there and back. I knew I could not let the school down as kids from all over the two Carolinas were gathering in the mountains of North Carolina for this grand opportunity. Mom knew I was freaking out about it and promised she would come get me if I could not make it through the week without her. I did wind up going, apprehensive and shaking like a leaf as I hugged her goodbye. This was good training ground for me, because six months later, I had to go to cheerleading camp: I threw up twice on the way there as I could barely face another week of missing my mama! Luckily none of the girls made fun of me. One of them actually said, “If I had a mom like yours, I’d feel the same way!”

College was a no-brainer, if you’ll excuse the silliness of that statement, as I attended college living at home even though I was given a full scholarship to go to USC. That proved to be a great experience, one I would not trade for anything. Being a part of the Florence, South Carolina, Regional Campus of the University of South Carolina, and watching it blossom into Francis Marion University, was an education in itself. I became the student media spokesperson for the college, which gave me my first taste of broadcasting.

Once my career began, I was getting all kinds of offers to move, but could not and would not do it. And who knows? If I had moved I might never have met the man of my dreams! It wasn’t until 1984 when Chuck and I married and decided to move to Myrtle Beach that I had to finally step up to the plate and put on my big girl panties. Okay, so we were only moving 80 miles away, but the night we pulled out of my parent’s driveway, I cried like a baby. I must admit I had a little too much wine at dinner on purpose in hopes that it would soothe the pain of leaving. It didn’t.

Ten years ago, after my dad died, I moved Mom to Myrtle Beach. It is so wonderful to have her only one mile away, as she is one of the brightest spots in my day, every day. As a matter of fact, everyone who meets her describes her as a “Hoot,” or a “Trip,” or “A piece of work,” all meant to be complimentary. To know her is to love her. Mom makes people laugh and feel good about the world and what’s ailing them.

Do I regret any of the decisions that I made along the way due to this gripping maternal attachment? Absolutely not! I believe I am right where God meant for me to be all along. I treasure the quality time I have had with my amazing mom, and wouldn’t trade it for anything. She always encouraged my independence; I was just too wimpy to go very far from her. Since Mom was only eighteen when I was born, in a sense we grew up together. She is my head cheerleader and best friend. And I’m not ashamed to tell you that these “Apron Strings” are far from fraying with age. Actually you could say they are as good as new: starched and fully pressed!

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