I was underpaid, unattached, happy enough with my extracurricular theatre activities, but truly content? No.
Mom on the street corner of her house. It still looks much the same today.
I like to think she can see me now. Not the little baby she held or the little girl with no artistic talent but could write. When she realized I was going to try to draw like my cousin Patty (a gifted natural artist) -- despite a profound lack of natural ability -- she bought me drawing books and paper (all the time reminding me that my real artistic gift was with words – now my primary career is as a writer/editor).
We did crafts together for as long as I can remember. I learned to knit when I was five. Making holiday decorations came shortly after.She loved all holidays. And had a wicked sense of humor. How many new mothers would put their child in their first Halloween costume at age two months? Especially such a "glamourous" one!
She was very into Christmas. That apple didn't fall far from the tree...
Mom got into my school projects as much as I did! She loved to cook and so do I. And I fear my over-collecting habits were honed at an early age. Mom was the master of rotating decor items -- we had shelves in the basement for the out of season things, or those just "taking a rest." I have shelves -- and plastic bins. She would have loved plastic bins.
Before she was married, mom taught school, worked for the airlines, then managed a dress shop. That was in the 40s and early 50s, and lots of women didn't really work outside the home then. Her family was fairly well to do.
My dad's background was very humble. I always have credited her for looking outside the glitz and to the person when she and my dad met. It was something she passed on to me.
I get my volunteer streak from her -- I would go with her as a child when she worked for her Junior League thrift shop. "When you are fortunate to have, you must give back," she said. Often. And she loved to have a party. Right on!
My family and good friends know this story -- when I was about 10, I was turning into a bit of a status brat. We lived in a neighborhood that had a pretty white-bread, professsional/executive batch of people, and at an early age, the kids became pretty jaded to just about everything. It was the Adidas culture of the day. Parties were always ta-da! We didn't know there were people who weren't like us. (You should see that school now. Add 21st century peer pressure to the mix...)
So, in sixth grade, we moved. It was just across town -- and the neighborhood was very nice, and pretty homogenous. But the schools were anything but. There was a huge income variance, great racial diversity, fractured families. And it didn't matter. Because I found friends who were from all backgrounds. And they were fun kids. Some were raised just like me. Some anything but. It didn't make any difference.
When the parents of my best pal in the neighborhood at the time wanted them to send me to a different, more homogenous high school in the city, my parents refused. Good for them.
I credit those actions with making me the person I am today. A decision she and my dad made together. A good one.
Mom loved to laugh and nothing was more fun than seeing her with her sisters at the lake. She loved the lake -- this picture was in 1949, the summer before she and my dad got married.
We spent all summer up there as kids. One day she managed to get all of us teen cousins polishing copper up there. And we liked it! She knew how to make things fun.
She wasn't perfect. She could be overprotective, and in some ways, that may have arrested my development. And she could have her snooty, snippy moments.
But she was a good mom.
Who knows what would have happened had she lived longer? Would she know me now, or be in that world so many people of that age are -- not really here anymore? She would love Rick and the boys, and she'd be proud of my work. If she was able, we'd still be making things together -- and laughing all the way.
So, Happy Birthday, Mom. I miss you.