Thursday, August 17, 2006

Happy Birthday Mom

Wherever You Are

Born on August 17, 1914

I can't imagine her at 92 years old. She died in 1970 when she was only 56, two years younger than I am now. There has not been a day that I haven't thought about her. I was in my 20's and there were a million questions I still needed answers to....if only.

She was born in Peters, Nevada a town that doesn't exist anymore but was close to where Las Vegas is today. Her family worked the quicksilver mines in Tonopah before they migrated to San Francisco.

Mom was the kindest person I've ever known. She didn't have an ounce of prejudice and was always curious about and intrigued with other cultures. The first thing she wanted to know is what they cooked! She was a fabulous cook and baker and tried to replicate recipes from all the ethnic groups in San Francisco. She knew the best neighborhood restaurants and we were regularly treated to Russian, Mexican, French, Italian and Chinese food.

She didn't believe in God and was pretty frank with me when I was small and asking so many questions. Two things happened that shook her faith, the horrors of World War 2 and the death of her beloved mother from cancer. She told me I would have to decide for myself if God existed but would always take me to any church I wanted to attend. It's odd, now I think of her as very spiritual.

Mom was a Republican who adored Roosevelt and Dad was a Democrat who loved Eisenhower. In those days the two parties were more similar than they were different.

She gave the best parties and would cook for days before a party or a holiday. When we finally got a huge freezer in the garage Dad would kid us that Mom was cooking for the freezer - not for us.

She taught herself to drive and bought a used white cadillac convertible with red leather interior. Every night when she came home from work she would be in the basement with a rag polishing that car. She loved to drive all over the city and would take me on her night time jaunts. We had the best fun and because of her I knew every inch of San Francisco.

Almost every Sunday we would go to Chinatown and walk all the way down Grant Ave and then walk back. We went into grocery stores, bakeries and tourist traps. She would buy me chinese pajamas, dolls, slippers....for a long time I thought I was Chinese we spent so much time there!

Mom was a voracious reader. She never censored my reading and never told me a book was too adult for me. I read Dr. Zhivago at a pretty young age because she was reading it and anything she read I wanted to read.

She grew up poor and it became her mission in life to spoil everyone on their birthdays and Christmas. She shopped for months before Christmas. When the grandkids came along Christmas was a three ring circus. One year she had me help wrap the gifts but didn't want me to put tags on anything in case someone started peeking. She said she would remember who each gift was for. The livingroom had gifts all the way to the door and as we started opening the wrong gifts she was in the middle yelling "No that's Tommy's gift - no that's the baby's present". It was the biggest confusing mess of a holiday and I think it was her last Christmas.

She didn't like animals and never touched the pets we had but when my nephew accidently let my dog out the front door she spent the week driving everywhere looking for him. At bedtime Mom would come into my room and hold me until I fell asleep and leave the front door open all night in case he found his way home. Not to worry...we did find him in the next block in someone's house after weeks of searching. We saw him peering out of a downstairs window and at that exact moment we were driving by, their front door opened and he made a beeline for our car. He jumped in and we took off. How was that for timing?

When she died I learned how loved she was. The funeral parlor wasn't big enough to hold the crowd or the flowers and it looked like a meeting of the United Nations. I never realized she had so many friends - she was just Mom to us but boy what a mom!

Love you...always!

I was inspired to write this by so many of your blogs! I started putting links to all my favorite stories and that got to be really crazy but you know who y'all are. This post is way too long - how do you put a life into one blog post anyway? I'm sitting here blubbering as I'm writing and just hope you're not bored.


At 12:56 AM, Blogger Peggy said...


That was tremendous! Your best effort to date!

At 5:09 AM, Anonymous Alan G said...

This past Saturday was the ninth anniversary of my mother's death so your post seems...well, you know.

I have met a few people over the years that have lost their moms at an early age in their life and for me it seems almost unimaginable. It makes me feel fortunate obviously, but it saddens me so much to know how devastating that would have been for me. It makes me wish I could help share your pain.

I was struck in particular with your comments about her interaction with you on the religious front and also with regard to the lost pet. She was obviously the grandest of mothers.

I think that your post is a wonderful gift to the memory of your mother on her birthday and thanks for sharing.

At 7:16 AM, Anonymous naomi dagen bloom said...

oh, susan, NOT too long. i loved all of it, got teary, wished i'd had a mother like yours...been a better mother (then cut myself a break). thanks for taking me along. yours, naomi

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Betty said...

Saz, sounds as though you had a great mom. I enjoyed your story about her.

At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Alan G said...

He's Baaack...!!!

That bottom photo of your mom in front of that sign has really captured my interest. That is a most interesting sign.

I am wondering if it has something to do with World War II or if it has something to do with the fact that Nevada was the test site for the testing of the "The Bomb"?

If my information is correct, the first nuclear bomb test of many in Nevada was in January of 1951.

At 2:31 PM, Blogger Lucy said...

Recently, I wanted to see my healthy parents. (My mother is sick.)
But I can’t do it. When I read your post, I remembered my memory.

At 5:52 PM, Blogger Ginnie said...

Saz: What a lovely memorial to your mother. I lost both my father and my husband at age 59 so I know how it feels to lose one you love at an early age. I love the way you started it with "Happy Birthday, Mom, Wherever you are"...because, who knows, she may be reading this! Many non-religious people are very spiritual...including myself...and I think it is what we do, not what we say we will do, that matters. I feel that I know you better having read this. Thanks, Saz.

At 7:33 PM, Blogger Kell said...

That was the loveliest post (she says while whiping tears away)! What an awesome Mom and what wonderful memories you have of her.

And I agree with Ginnie, you can be spiritual and not be religious. Your mom seemed to transcend all labels.

Thanks for sharing her with us.

BTW, I love that comment from your dad about cooking for the freezer. I relate to that!

At 7:48 PM, Anonymous Susan said...

What a beautiful person your mother was, both inside and out. I'm sorry that you lost her so young.

I can tell that there is a lot of her in you.

At 11:53 PM, Blogger saz said...

Thanks to Alan G for cleaning up the photo of my folks - it's now better than the real photo! You're "our" blogger angel.

Peggy - Thanks for that kind comment.

Alan - Thanks for your thoughts.

Naomi - No doubt in my mind - you're a great mom.

Betty - Your grandparents' story got me going on this.

Lucy - Thinking good thoughts for your mom. Thanks for your visit.

Ginnie - I'm so sorry you lost both your dad and your husband when they were so young. I'm sure the youngsters don't think 59 is that young but it is!

Kell - You know I actually thought about you when I was writing about how Mom loved to cook and bake!

Susan - If only I was more like her..never measure up in my own mind. Thanks for your kind words.

At 1:22 AM, Anonymous claude said...

Thanks for sharing your Mom's birthday. I love the way you write about her and the great photo of your parents you posted.
I love it when people go down memory lane. Please give me more :)

At 5:37 PM, Blogger F&W said...

Your best post ever.

At 5:32 PM, Blogger Mortart said...

This is a gorgeous story. My mother wasn't as cosmopolitan as yours (she wasn't American-born), but I was fortunate that she had the same virtues.

At 5:46 PM, Blogger saz said...

Claude and Chelle P - Thanks for the compliments - means alot.

Mort - Mom never thought she was cosmopolitan - just a poor kid from the desert. She most likely would have thought YOUR mom was cosmopolitan just cuz she wasn't born here! Bet they were very much alike.

At 4:31 AM, Blogger SzélsőFa said...

Your devotion to your incredibly talented and vivid Mommy shows. thanks for sharing.

At 4:33 AM, Blogger SzélsőFa said...

My mom has her birthday on the 13 august, btw. She turned 60 this year.

At 2:44 PM, Anonymous Terri said...

Bored? Oh Saz...this was an incredible post! I had tears as I read it.
Your mom certainly sounded like one very special woman! And only 56 when she passed away. How tragic. What a neat woman and mother she was...allowing you to choose religion or not when you got older, allowing you to read and not censoring the content. She certainly did give you wings and allowed you to fly and become the person you are.
You're very fortunate and what special memories she left you with.
My mom's birthday would have been August 15....and she's been gone a year this past Feb. We had, at times, a rocky relationship, but I still miss her terribly.
A great blog and I'm glad I backtracked to read it.


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