Pearls of Wisdom

Photo by Theresa Thompson

When Barbara Billingsley died on Saturday, so did an ideal.

I’ve always called my sister-in-law “June.” Her name is not “June,” of course, but my children will likely be in their teens before they figure that out.

See, the first few times I stopped for a visit after my brother and sister-in-law got married, “June” was vacuuming in a dress, wearing heels and pearls. “June” seemed like the obvious nickname–named for the all-American wife who kindly encouraged her husband and carefully guided her sons while dusting and mopping in Sunday duds.

I was quite impressed by June Cleaver and my June. I can barely balance in heels when walking–let alone pushing a Dirt Devil.

I am sad about Barbara Billingsley’s death. She was television’s original TV mom–a woman who openly demonstrated to a generation of Baby Boomers that it’s okay to care for your family and your home. You don’t have to think of your husband as a big, fat goon or wish your kids belonged to somebody else. In fact, you shouldn’t.

What’s so wrong about aspiring to be someone who loves her family?

In a perfect “last scene” to Billingsley’s life, her own children–two sons, as irony would have it–praised her for being not unlike June Cleaver in real life. She loved her family. She loved her home.

Known for saying, “Ward, I’m a little worried about the Beaver,” I would say to her today, “June, I’m a little worried about the moms you leave behind.”

And tomorrow–just because–I think I’ll wear pearls.

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