Monday, February 23, 2009

Dreams of My Mother

Yesterday was a good day for reminiscing about my mom. I think about her all the time, but around Academy Award time I remember that it was the ONE night of the year that my mom would go out by herself and stay out lreally ate. She and her girlfriend, Nancy, would dress up and have "Girls Night In" and watch what then was "new-school Hollywood. On Oscar night this year, two of her favorite actors, Van Johnson.and Charlton Heston were profiled In Memoriam. She could not get enough of watching Heston in Ben Hur, as Moses, portraying Andrew Jackson, etc. In the 80s Heston was best known as a strident spokesperson for the NRA lwhile I was in D.C. working gun violence prevention but I tried to bite my tongue. This photo is of my mom in her Annie Get Your Gun outfit in the late 20s. Hey, Mom! Whose side are you on?
Truly though, watching the Oscars reminded me of my mom's other favorite things.

History - her true passion. Thousands of tourists were treated to her trolley-stop tours of our pre-Civil War Greek Revival home, The House of Seven Porches, filled with a combo of thrift store finds, hand-me-downs and real antiques and spooky stories. Using out-of-the way storage nooks, she created The Little House Under the Stairs and The Hideout - imaginative places for kids of all ages to hang out and keep secrets.

Antiques: she didn't get into every antiques store she wanted to because she wanted to go into EVERY antiques store. Now, she can be in any one at anytime and stay as long as she likes.

She lived in the perfect town for a history buff - the First Settlement in the Northwest Territory and a stop for the Sternwheeler, the Delta Queen. Such was her and our love affair with the grande dame of the River that we were even in a movie featuring the old boat, called The Wonderful World of Ohio. Academy award worthy, perhaps..but sadly..overlooked.
Letters. My mom was a big fan of hand writing letters. Nearly a lost art today of course but Canada Poste brought me a letter today - of all days - a letter from one of the last great snail-mail writers, my friend Adele in Mississippi.
who wrote: "Your mom said that you should only have your name in the newspaper twice: at birth and death." Odd, eh? Her rule was broken though as she was often in the paper quite a few times for charitable works: Girl Scouts, Welfare League, teaching Park and Rec tennis lessons, etc. Her meaning though is clear...don't seek the limelight or engage in nefarious activities which bring one negative notoriety (Denise: see my use of my given letter?)

Gifts: She loved saving presents, her motto being, "Why open one when you can save it for later?" Kelsey has NOT inherited this gene and I'm sure she spins a little when he opens his Christmas AND birthday presents on Christmas eve. He was not struck down this past Christmas even though he was opening it under her watchful eye from the portrait of his grandmother behind him. (Sidenote: this portrait was done of my mom when she was about 6 or 7. .. and if you look closely you can see that the artist painted in the fishing pole's pricetags thinking they were part of the pole.) Snow - She proclaimed herself the Snow Witch and probably prayed more ardently for snow days than we did. A giant dumping of fluffy flakes was her preference, but she'd take a "light dusting." Growing up in the mountains of New Mexico and the panhandle of Texas but spending her entire adult life in southeastern Ohio she was usually starved for snow and then there was my dad, who worked 6 days a week at a downtown department store and was known for fervently trying to intercept her prayers with his own fair weather ones because snow meant fewer customers. Now, that the Snow Witch can have all the snow she wants, I'm pretty sure she's taken up permanent residency here with us in the Canadian Rockies. Children's Books. Oooh she loved children's literature. High quality writing and beautiful illustrations were requisite. Even though, we didn't buy very many, we got lots of trips to storytime at the library and plenty of read-to time. One highlight was when she took me to see her friend Lee Walp's impressive collection of what seemed like nearly every children's book ever published. Here's one of her faves. She was so proud to get an autographed copy - maybe I still have it somewhere? That and the first edition GiGi Lou who lived in a pumpkin and had many outstanding adventures. She passed her bibliophile gene onto me, so the poor grandsons are probably always thinking, "A$nother book?" Except for Cody who thankfully loved his Pirate Book. Attaboy, Cody! I could go on... but it's past my bedtime. P.S. In honor of my history buff mother, $20 to the first person who correctly identifies the gentleman in this painting.


BWJ said...

Andrew Jackson:)

BWJ said...

andrew jackson

Anonymous said...

What a nice tribute to your mother. Thanks for sharing it with me, Tel. xxxxoooo Jane

Anonymous said...

Good job. I'm sure she's smiling. Glad you could use my photos. Peggy Sue

Roger said...

Andrew Jackson, but BWJ beat me.

Anonymous said...

I know! I know! Andrew Jackson! But looks like I'm a few days too late. No worries, my dad would still be proud...and Grammy for that matter! ;o) --Kate

Anonymous said...

Great tribute to your mom. She was and still is a constant memory! I have a die cut that she gave me that is on my dresser to remind me of the scouting days. Kate Moynihan Edwards

Nicole D. said...

I remember your house! It was so awesome. I loved going on the boat in Marietta too.

I miss my mom.