Based on my own memories and stories recounted to me later, it’s clear that Norma was an extrovert. She spent lots of time with or talking to people. She had a lot of friends. She knew the neighbors.
My parents often took us to their friends’ houses. Sometimes those friends had kids our age, sometimes they didn’t. Us kids would find some way to play and pass the time as our parents socialized. Then would come the time to leave. We’d be told, get your coats let’s go, but this was just the pre-leaving phase. It was a very common occurrence that as we were ready and waiting at the door, the socializing would continue to happen. I’m sure it was only 5 or 10 minutes, but it felt like forever. They had pulled us from whatever game we were playing, and we just had to stand there and listen to the last of the conversation of the evening. Now, I kind of appreciate the fact that they didn’t want the night to end. They had more to say.
After looking through photos for the past couple weeks, it is clear that my mother was the one taking most of the pictures. There are a far greater number of pictures with her missing than with her in them. She often appears more when my dad’s family was visiting (a later post). I’ve gathered all the active type shots where she appears to be socializing, ending with a picture of her and her best friend (also a later post) at my high school graduation party, the year she died.
After my mother was gone, my father kept up with a lot of their joint friendships. When Norma was around, he was an introvert, telling a story when prompted. He adapted. There was one point where I was visiting some friends with him as an adult, and when we left, he told me how good it was to have me there to essentially take off the social pressure of keeping the conversation running. I myself am an introvert, but I do have the ability to perform socially when needed. Maybe it’s a little more of Norma that lives in me.
I wish there was a photo of her on the phone, because she spoke on the phone a lot! My sister and I talk about whether my mom would be on Facebook, and we are pretty sure she would be, especially because many of her siblings are there. Texting? Cell phones? Maybe. She did play solitaire and other card games a lot. I can see her doing this on her cell phone.
stories recounted to me
I also have a few stories of the council and advice that my mother would give her friends, particularly with some family friends who had daughters close in age to me and my sister. My mother and father, although Catholic, had pretty progressive views. They wouldn’t let us be in a room with our male friends with the door closed, but they were also all about sex as a natural, beautiful thing. They never told us that we shouldn’t have sex before marriage. It was this sort of standpoint or rather maybe just a grasp on the complexity of humans from which I think my mother could council others. This includes the conversation with others around “wow, are my children having sex?”
I have this image of her as the person that people would call when they wanted to talk through something. I guess I can only confirm that from what her friends remember. If you’ve made it to the end of this post, and have a story about social Norma, I’d love to hear it.