BARBARA aka MOM

Barbara…aka Mom.

Today is Mother’s Day. So many thoughts go through my mind regarding my mom and her impact on my life. Although she died several years ago, I’d like to believe that pieces of her still live on in me. I’m finding it difficult to express my thoughts beyond just to free associating. (Heads UP! This is a rather lengthy post. Sorry!)
I would describe mom as the following…

Mother of Six… I’m the fourth

A Loving Wife... My parents were devoted to each other and lifted each other up to the end …
Highly intelligent
Exquisite pianist…Her first recital was at age 3 at Rosary College. When she played a master class for Igor Stravinski in college, he asked her to drop out and tour with him. She declined because she’d promised her parents that she would finish her music degree…and did.
Loyal…Her parents gave her the “silent treatment” For 6 months they refused to speak to her because she defied their wishes by getting engaged to dad while he was in the army. Out of concern for her, they didn’t want her to be engaged until after he was out She stuck by dad. My grandparents got over it eventually and when it came to a crisis, dad was their “go to” guy in the family.)
Charming, funny, flirty… people adored her. She was offered a tv show as a young woman. But turned it down thinking it may be emasculating to my dad if she earned more than he did. I don’t think she even told her about it at the time.
Creative
Playful sense of surprise… She LOVED giving and getting surprises! And was very adept at it.
Childlike enthusiasm… Her mother was this way as well. She would get an enormous smile in her face. Her eyes would light up as though you just told her the most remarkable thing ever!)
A force to be reckoned with…DON”T PISS HER OFF!
Empathetic… If she knew someone was in trouble, she usually didn’t wait to be asked. She was the first to reach out.)
Feminist BIG TIME!! She taught me who Gloria Steinem was and was also a great fan of Billie Jean King. When I entered college as a political science major, with the intention of going to law school and possibly having a political career, she supported me 100%. When women of the feminist movement were denigrated as flakes, troublemakers or something less than women, she wouldn’t hear of it! In a household with five men they learned early on that such talk wouldn’t be tolerated.
Very Patient Teacher…She began teaching me piano when I was five.
Independent Thinker…She was telling me “Not to give my power away” long before it was popular.
Wise…She used to say that in order to get along sometimes it eas necessary to “play the underdog”. Which was ok ,so long as you had the upper hand.
She loved to shop!
Disciplined…Although in her youth, she turned down opportunities to profit from her playing, she continued to practice daily for years on end, teaching herself new and challenging works. Sometimes she’d practice for hours, never complaining or objecting to me dancing ballet as she played. I learned a great deal about process from watching her diligence.

French Chef…She was not much of a baker. We used to watch Julia Child when she first came on tv. Some women religiously tuned into soaps. Not mom. Her two favorites were “The French Chef” and “Lilias Yoga and You”. I participated in both with her in order to have her all to myself. I made my first hollandaise for my parent’s dinner party, when hers failed. I was 12. She was a helluva cook!
Athletic…She played tennis and golf and was doing yoga in 1962. Long before it was trendy. I attribute my flexibility to her.
Beautiful…She grew more beautiful with age. She used to tell me not to worry about my appearance, as I was a “late bloomer”, like her.
Poised…I think this was required of most women of her generation. But she excelled at it.
A great sense of style…She was elated over having bought a Chanel suit when the “market was up” so to speak. I had no idea what the noise was all about. She had the suit until the day she died. Much like mom herself, it remained timeless and beautiful.
Curious…When Julia Child came on the scene, she fell in love with all things French. So she went back to school to learn the language. She also hired a tutor to teach us. Which didn’t last very long…but it did with me! Alors, j’aime cette langue!
Francophile…She encouraged me to study music in France at the age of 17 when the opportunity availed itself. (Granted, I was supposed to go the year prior, but she said I didn’t “practice enough” and had to wait a year.)
Fearless…She went back to school in her late 40’s to study Political Science. While it was too much to get another degree at that point, I got the message LOUD and CLEAR! YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD TO LEARN! Eventually, when all six kids were out of the house, she opted to get a real estate license instead and go into the family business.
Highly Intuitive…She had an uncanny ability to know or predict things long before they happened.
Strict…WE used to say that was her German side. When dad said he was “counting to 3”, he usually tossed in a few fractions for good measure. NOT MOM! She meant business. “ACHTUNG!” She used to tease later. Not easy to keep 6 unruly kids in line.
Aloof…If you wanted to know what she was thinking, you were SOL! You only knew if she wanted you to know. She was a master. (She was always instructing me to be more aloof. Clearly, I never got the hang of it.)
Optimistic…She and dad often spoke of the having a PMA (positive mental attitude.) If life handed her lemons, she whipped it into a lemon soufflé!
Generous…She used to say of material possessions, “They are JUST THINGS! That’s all! It’s not life. It’s just stuff and in the grand scheme of things, they’re very unimportant.”
Indulgent…She indulged our curiosity and dreams. No dream was too big in her eyes!
Resilient…She taught me that when life knocks you down to the ground and you think you’ll never recover, BOUNCE!

Here’s to you MOM! 

Thank you for all the amazing gifts and life experiences you and dad bestowed upon me. While we didn’t always see eye to eye, I think it was often because we were quite similar in many ways. Of course we disappointed one another from time to time.

I’ve always been the “odd man out” in the family dynamic. But that’s ok. I knew in my heart, that although you didn’t always understand me, or agree with me, you understood my right to be me!  That’s probably one of the the best gifts you can give your child.  I love you and thank you for it!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

2 thoughts on “BARBARA aka MOM”

  1. Ok I got it open on the phone- this is such a sweet tribute to ur mom- exactly how I remember her- u are a great writer- keep it up and keep in touch!

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