Saturday, May 8, 2010


Mother's Day brings back many memories of my mother, Theresa, who was shy and often overshadowed by my father and his dynamic mother -- Nana Laura. My mother was called "Teddy" before I was born and she and my father grew up in the same neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. His family was wealthy, and her family was working class. Both families were immigrants -- hers from Sweden and his from Germany and Ireland. They were high school sweethearts and married at eighteen. They were also both stunt pilots and worked in a "Flying Circus" where my mother was a wing-walker. I often joke that my "mental state" was caused by being nurtured in an upside womb. My father was a talker but my mother was very quiet. The youngest of three sisters, she was raised in a family of loud voices and much laughter. Her oldest sister, Gwen, was great friends with Nana Laura in later years and they were often "naughty" together. My mother loved cats -- both real and in miniature china versions. She was easy to buy presents for since anything cat-themed was always a winner. My father collected model trains and Nana Laura collected dolls and teddy bears. So I grew up in a household full of collectors.
My mother was a slim beauty until the day she died. She often commented that she could still wear dresses that she had worn as a young women. And she had one distinguishing feature -- just one front tooth. It wasn't that the other one was knocked out, but that she was born with just one -- like the famous TV puppet dragon "Ollie" from the popular 1950s series, "Kukla, Fran, and Ollie" who always commented on his prehensile tooth. The odd thing was, no one ever seemed to notice it.
While Gwen and Nana Laura were openly vivacious and naughty, Theresa was a bit shy and quiet but in any one-on-one situation she turned quite chatty and those were my best memories of her. She loved to read and had her own thoughts and opinions about everything, but more often than not, she keep them to herself. She adored my first wife, Ann, who lived in our neighborhood. However, she disapproved of Ann's father who drank too much and was abusive to his wife and children. On that topic she had strong opinions.
I often wonder about the gene pool I emerged from and what parts of each parent are most prominent in me. I look a lot like my father, but I like to think that I inherited my mother's ability to look at life more objectively than my father did. In these times she might have become a sympathetic counselor or even a diplomat. Back then she was just happy to be a wife and mother, and she was very good at both.

Happy Mother's Day to all.