I miss Mom’s hamburgers, I miss when she would burp like a sailor and then act all surprised, and I miss how she cut Snickers into little slivers so she could eat them really slowly. I miss her long perfect nails and her hair curler box, and the ungodly amount of small bottles of beauty stuff she had hidden in her bathroom closet. I miss doing puzzles with her! I’ve thought so many times in the past two months, how nice it would be to be quarantined with her – we would find ways to fill the days.
Mom and home were equivalent concepts.
I would like for all this Mothers Day stuff to scootch on past – but that wouldn’t be fair to all the folks who want to fete their moms. So I send out a big salute to all the moms, and the kids who love their moms, and to the ones who miss their moms. And to my mom and the people who loved her.
No tribute to my mom would be complete without focusing first on her mom, from whence we all started. She had five kids, Paul, Mary, Anne (my mom), Jean, and Alan. Alan was already on the way when my granddad Ray suddenly died on the job. Grandma had a debilitating early-onset arthritis but she raised those five kids alone, on what she earned from sewing and a bit of help here and there. She was arty, quiet, principled, and whip-smart. Grandma loved the Denver Nuggets and one of her joys after her eyesight got poor was listening to the games. Mom idolized her and did anything and everything Grandma would let her do – and made it so Grandma could stay home her whole life, till she passed away in her 90s.
The oldest three kids – Aunt Mary, Mom in the middle, and Uncle Paul. Mom had red hair, and Paul called her “Little Orphan Annie” – Mom’s name was Anne. She was born in Last Chance, Colorado, in 1936, but I’m guessing this photo is in Morrison, Colorado, near Red Rocks park.
Mom’s sibs were always her best friends. Here she is, second from left. Jeanne, Mom, Mary, Paul and Alan.
Little Orphan Annie
I think Mom made this cake herself – it is hard to laugh at someone when they’re in on the joke. Now I get why she wanted me to smile and laugh it off when my brother teased me – it’s easier and more fun.
Mom was crazy about us kids, and her one granddaughter. (If you’re only going to get one grandkid, thank goodness she is this talented, gorgeous, brilliant, talented, funny, and deeply loving.)
One thing that wowed me about Mom: seeing her with baby Lauren. I never knew Mom with young kids – I was the baby of our family. The way she picked up Lauren when we all met her, and cooed at her, and got her attention, and calmed her down… you could have knocked me over with a feather.
Arty and crafty and more
Mom was talented and arty herself. She painted and drew, and as time went on her ambitions got bigger. She and my stepdad and stepbrother built the house they lived in, from the foundations. One of my favorite memories is coming to visit for the weekend, and finding Mom hanging by her, ahem, bosom over the frame of the garage they were building. Her feet were dangling a few inches above the top of the ladder. Bob was down at the foot of the ladder, hollering instructions, and Mom was hammering on the joists with one hand and steadying herself with the other. (She would have said she didn’t need Bob’s instructions.)
She came down later that day, cleaned up, and made dinner. I noticed she still had her full ten perfect fingernails that evening.
When I bought my place in DC, she and Bob drove to visit me and help me set up housekeeping. We built the bench seating you see below.
Soul of a competitor
Being artistically inclined, she played WICKED Pictionary. Not wanting to waste paper, her drawings were miniscule! But always proportional and identifiable. The same could not be said for Bob’s drawings, but he at least had a healthy sense of humor about it.
We played lots of games with this lady! Poker, Bridge, rummy, Oh Hell. She was a shark, and never let on how she was going to rip out your jugular. Nor did she gloat when you were left staring at a scorecard that showed her win. The picture of graciousness.
Even when age was taking away some of her acuity, even when she said a little worriedly, “I can’t remember how this game is played,” her natural instinct and brain power kicked in, and she beat us. Little devil!
Mom and I once went to San Francisco together. In the pic below she is pretending to vomit at Fisherman’s Wharf – I get my allergy to seafood from her. But she couldn’t quite keep a straight face about it – another one of Mom’s enduring qualities was the explosion of her laughter. (My brother says he gasps sometimes when he hears me laugh, because it sounds like Mom!) We had so much fun.
When I said “I love you” to her, this is what she always answered: