My mom was an awesome mom. She had been a fashion model as a teenager and through her twenties. They wanted her to be a movie star, but it wasn't what she wanted.
She and my Aunt Mary were great pals who met in junior high. Mom and Aunt Mary went to USC together. As my mom told it, they always got to school late and had to repark the other cars to make room for their own. That was easy to do in those days, because everyone left the keys in their cars.
Aunt Mary had two brothers, John and Harry. When Harry came back from the war, he noticed his kid sister's best friend had grown up a lot, and they began dating, fell in love and were married, for sixty-eight years. They spent most of those years buying and selling antiques, their great passion. Everyone in our family and most of our friends have a house full of antiques that came through my parent's garage, affectionately named, "The Store."
She loved to decorate her home and prune in her yard, which was easily the best-looking on the street. She had
more than a green thumb and would spend many hours every week attending to her beloved yard. I bought her a t shirt with an image of her leaning way into the junipers with the clippers. The caption under the picture read, "I'd rather be pruning."
She survived breast cancer at forty-nine. Having lived to eighty-seven, she always encouraged other women facing similar challenges, assuring them that they could survive it as she had.
Mom always taught me the importance of knowing how to
behave, as she put it. For her, good manners made a big difference. She tutored me daily, until I left home. And she was right, good manners do count. But it was really her example that had the biggest influence on me. She was charming and elegant and knew more about both sides of our family than most everyone else put together. It was her love of family and family stories that most inspired me to be a writer and share those stories with my kids.
She had vision and loved to talk about her plans for the future. She believed in me and thought I would make a
great doctor, lawyer, psychologist, college professor, all of which I aspired to at one time or another. Her confidence in me gave
me confidence in myself. But she did worry about me as I went off on my latest outdoor adventure and would say, "Be safe and don't do anything dangerous."
My mom was the single most important person in the development of my faith, which has seen me through my life. She was my best audience and laughed at my first attempts to be funny, telling my homemade jokes and stories. And she forgave me quickly when I misbehaved. I knew that I was loved, and that has made all the difference.
Growing up, I wondered whom I would marry, where she was and what she was doing right then. One thing I knew for sure, she would have deep faith, be compassionate and well-mannered, with a love of family and friends. That describes my wife, and I am so thankful for her.
Thank you, Mom, for showing me the way. I will always be grateful.