Monday, January 4, 2010

IF IT'S TUESDAY, THE EDELBLUMS MUST BE IN BELGIUM.

Whenever I celebrate my mother's rich life, I like to focus on 1968. In that time-frame, she envisioned the number one highlight of my childhood and pulled it off with deft precision.
What she did for me was choreograph an atypical, two-pronged Bar Mitzvah experience for me.
                MY BAR MITZVAH. THAT'S ME, CARNATION IN LAPEL, ( MAY 31, 1968).

At a great personal sacrifice, over a year in advance, mom took on a full-time job to help finance my golden moment.

Living on a strict regimen of cottage cheese, black coffee and not much else, mom dedicated herself to dieting. To support her effort, I sometimes held her ankles when she did sit-ups. Even though mom didn't need much...she trimmed down. When my command performance came, she looked dynamite.
          MOM AND DAD WITH HIS PARENTS, TWO MONTHS BEFORE MY BIG DAY.

The religious Bar Mitzvah ritual (entering a Jewish boy into adulthood), and ensuing festivities, succeeded in making me feel special. But mom's dedication to this crowning achievement didn't only benefit me. Within a sea of general positivism, 1968 became the best and most identifiable era for us as a family. Because my mother's master plan went further than just my lavish party.

Remember the 1969 movie, "IF IT'S TUESDAY, IT MUST BE BELGIUM?" Well it may as well have been written about us. The second prong of mom's brainchild was a 22-day, seven country European vacation.

Our jaunt NEVER landed us in Belgium. However, we enjoyed similar frantic and funny episodes, full of dramatic clashing personalities, international intrigue and sex...which resulted in a lifetime of fond memories.

While I'm certain we would have adored Brussels, we had to settle for; London England, Paris France, Vienna Austria, Rome, the Vatican, Naples, Pompeii and Capri in Italy. Then back to Cannes on the French Riviera, Geneva Switzerland, Madrid Spain and Lisbon Portugal.
MY FOLKS TOOK FULL ADVANTAGE OF PARIS' ROMANTIC NIGHT LIFE. THEY WENT TO A NIGHT CLUB WITH OTHER COUPLES FROM OUR GROUP. ONE OF THE ACTS THEY SAW WAS A YOUNG, SIEGFRIED AND ROY.

Along with 30 or so other tourists, our package-deal was dominated by organized motor coach transport to each city's most popular venues. However, there were also down-times. Sometimes we ventured off with smaller groups and on a few occasions, we went off on our own.

My 42-year old European memories are fresh. The list of museums, monuments, palaces, castles, cathedrals and other meccas of sightseeing are lengthy. But the true theme of the trip that I hold most dear was brought to light in Vienna's Stadtpark, (City Park).
TO GIVE MY PARENTS MORE "ALONE TIME," (THEY SAID THEY WERE "PACKING" ), MY SISTER AND I TOOK A TAXI ON OUR OWN TO THE EIFFEL TOWER. CRAZY BY TODAY'S STANDARDS, SHE WAS 15 AND I WAS 13.

One of our family excursions was in Vienna. My dad, a musician, found out from the hotel concierge that the nearby equivalent of New York's Central Park was featuring a waltz concert. When we got there, a band-shell, complete with dance floor was adjacent to an outdoor cafe. My sister and I rolled our eyes at first because the music was so corny. But the pastries and cocoa soothed us enough to eliminate outward complaining.

This event perked-up when local teenagers in vintage Austrian peasant costumes demonstrated different waltz-steps. The show's final crescendo had the dancers mingle with the audience and encourage folks to waltz with them. My dad would have none of that. He stood-up and was so gallant as he asked my mother to dance to Strauss' "THE BLUE DANUBE." With a stupid grin on my face, my eyes remained glued on every romantic, elegant and joyful move mom and dad made.
        STATUE OF THE WALTZ KING, JOHANN STRAUSS IN VIENNA'S STADTPARK.

At thirteen, the concept of my parents being very much in love was preposterous. So getting educated at that moment by seeing the spontaneity of the lovers, together, so enthusiastic, eyes locked on each other, unrestrained by day-to-day pressure, kids or anything else...has left the most pleasant and profoundly lasting impression on me. So much so that during my son Andrew's Bar Mitzvah, I made certain that the "BLUE DANUBE'S" big finale was used to usher my mom up, during the candle lighting ceremony.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KE7Zk-qaJAs
CLICK ON THIS LINK FOR A 6+ MINUTE PERFORMANCE OF, "THE BLUE DANUBE," BY ANDRE RIEU'S JOHANN STRAUSS ORCHESTRA.

My wonderful mom, Sylvia "Sue" Edelblum passed away, three days ago, on New Year's Day. The last five of her 79 years were spent painfully as she suffered through a prolonged, losing battle with both emphysema and cancer. During those difficult times, her sense of honesty, fair play and dignity never wavered. Without bitterness towards tobacco companies, she maintained her strong-willed presence, remained both real and gracious and never stopped using her wry humor.

I didn't always agree with mom but my appreciation for her motives...specifically; family values, common decency, intelligence and the arts are beyond reproach. I can only hope that I absorbed a fraction of those treasured traits. Therefore, the greatest compliment I can be given is being told; you remind me of your mother.IT DIDN'T MATTER IF IT WAS THE VATICAN'S SISTINE CHAPEL, THE MONA LISA AT THE LOUVRE, GOYA MASTERPIECES IN THE PRADO OR A JUNKYARD DINOSAUR SCULPTURE IN FRONT ROYAL VIRGINIA...MY MOM INTRODUCED MY SISTER AND I, TO A WIDE RANGE OF CULTURE AND ALLOWED OUR OWN TASTE TO DICTATE WHAT WAS GOOD.

In the end, I believe if mom could have gotten one message across it would have been; the human body is beautiful. Let your inside beauty match the outside...don't be mislead by the seemingly cool allure of smoking...never light-up...the end result leads to personal tragedy and much sorrow for those who love you.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I really liked this one...FrankieRio

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve:
So sorry to hear about your mom.

Anonymous said...

Good blog, very touching...SHMEE

Anonymous said...

we extend our deepest condolences to the author and his immediate and extended families in their time of sorrow and mourning...story was truly a loving, positive and no doubt fitting tribute...to the memory of that singular relation who is paramount in all our lives...god bless...S&T

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your blog. It was a fitting tribute to your mom.

I don't remember if you ever mentioned that trip to me. I have been to Europe four times in last 10 years. The last two times to Austria only because I loved the country THAT much.

Anyway, I'm sure your mom would have been proud that her planning still means so much to you.
LT. JEFF

vicki said...

You did a great job, here on your blog and talking at the cemetery. Your MOm and Dads greatest achivements were you and your wonderful sister. We love you both Vicki and Sonny