I was thinking of my mother (I called her "Ma") the other morning as I walked along Wildcat Boulevard. Perhaps one reason for my recollections was that Mother's Day will be soon upon us. Another reason was that a cousin recently named his new baby girl after Ma.
Ma's name was Veda, not a very common name. She always claimed because she was the 12th child in her family that her parents had run out of girls' names (there were seven) and named her Veda. She never knew why. "Veda" means "knowledge" in Sanskrit.
Ma's parents were immigrants from Sweden. She was raised on a farm and married a farmer, so farming was what she knew best. Like many farm ladies at the time, Ma helped around the farm, had her own flock of laying hens, cooked, washed, canned, gardened, and kept house.
She was a dedicated, hard worker. She was always cleaning, but said she was not a "clean freak" like her grandmother who even washed the roof of her house. Still Ma did not like "dirt," and we were scolded if we "tracked in."
What made Ma the happiest was having guests. She always "put on the coffee to have some lunch" if someone stopped in. Anyone working on or near the farm was expected to eat meals with the family.
If she knew certain people were coming, she would prepare the foods they enjoyed most. Because of her hospitality we had many visitors. One uncle always called before he stopped to visit. He liked Ma's potato salad. She had it ready when he arrived.
A nephew liked mashed potatoes. If she knew he would be a guest, she'd have mashed potatoes and homemade gravy ready. He also liked catsup on his mashed potatoes, so a catsup bottle was set next to his plate.
Friends and relatives of all ages continued to visit my parents until they passed away. One young cousin and his wife came often and brought their three small children. Ma liked the kids and always had special treats ready for "the Nyquist kids."
Now the youngest Nyquist boy is married and he and his wife recently had a baby girl which they named Isabelle Veda Ann Nyquist. Ma would be proud, honored, and pleased with this Mother's Day gift.
Take a walk, be especially kind to your mother this weekend, use those signal lights, and see what you think about while passing along your own Wildcat Boulevard.
Russell Hively writes a weekly column for the Daily News.