My earliest memory of this holiday has to with the first Mother's Day gift I bestowed upon my mom. In third grade, there was a flower sale in the school library. I scraped together a nickel and five pennies and got a tiny plant, in a three-inch square, white pot.
My mom made me feel good even though my dot-sized present was displayed on the kitchen counter, side-by-side with the mammoth fern my sister got. Mom glamorized my wee green sprout and told me that this kind of plant (ivy) will grow bigger than I could imagine and with her tender loving care, it would last a long time.
Mom was a feminine, old-fashion girl. Her instincts towards motherhood extended into a glorious gardening touch. In my childhood, this talent produced a beautiful backyard of roses.
|(CIRCA 1953) BEFORE MOVING "ON UP" TO CANARSIE, PRIOR TO MY BIRTH, MOM DEVELOPED HER GREEN THUMB AT THEIR BROWNSVILLE APARTMENT HOUSE. HERE WE SEE HER CULTIVATING THE RARE, "PITKIN ORCHID."|
While Brooklyn might be associated with concrete and asphalt, a passerby to our house in Canarsie could easily see the artistic, colorful arrangement blooming in the flower beds that lined the alley along side our house. Mom also adorned the walkway to our front door with pretty azaleas and pom-poms as well as keeping up a window box laden with petunias.
Mom's tendency to stay a housewife set the woman's rights movement back twenty years. She was highly intelligent but because of the economics caused by the Great Depression and the social labeling of the time, it seemed natural to not pursue a college education. So in the early stages of marriage, she was usually seen barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.
|1946 CONEY ISLAND. CYNDI LAUPER GOT HER IDEA FOR "GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN," FROM MY MOM.|
Mom wasn't athletic either. She never had any interest in learning how to drive and almost never went on any amusement park rides. It's too bad she smoked because that women's rights "privilege" would severely damage the quality of her later life.
In 1967, during a family vacation down south, mom filled some of the dull driving time by telling me the developments in the life of my four-year old Mother's Day plant. Maybe she was just killing time with idle chatter or this was a clever device to talk about the birds and the bees, because she flattered me by saying that a cutting from my humble gift was now dominating the wall in my grandfather's apartment, (I'm guessing I didn't pick-up on the reproductive point she was making because when my sister realized she was talking about sex, she started laughing. Then mom told dad to make sure he spoke to me privately).
Some of the highlights on that vacation were, Smoky National Park, Gatlinsburg Tennessee, Maggie Valley Frontier Town in North Carolina, Natural Bridge Virginia and Atlantic City.
|AT A WEAK MOMENT IN SMOKY NATIONAL PARK, MOM ENCOURAGED ME TO TAUNT THIS CUB IN FRONT OF ITS MOTHER. I TRIED TO RAT HER OUT BY CALLING CHILDREN'S SERVICES ON MY IMAGINARY CELL PHONE BUT I WASN'T GETTING ANY BARS.|
Mom stayed clear of those bears but that same night, she orchestrated our attendance at a local sock-hop in Gatlinsburg. She and dad encouraged me to ask a girl (Serita from Georgia), to dance. It's too bad dad didn't explain the birds and the bees that day but I still had a great time with her. We even remained pen pals for several years, (if it's not too creepy, maybe I'll see if she's on FACEBOOK)?
|NEAR GATLINSBURG, AT THE CHEROKEE INDIAN RESERVATION, MOM HAD ME POSE ON THIS PLASTIC STALLION.|
My parents weakness for tobacco included us touring a couple of cigarette factories in Winston-Salem and Raleigh...yuck! On the way back north, navigator mom noticed a "must see" landmark in our AAA TRIP-TIK, so we detoured to Natural Bridge Virginia.
|HEY DAD, THERE'S A SPOT ON YOUR SHIRT! NOT FAR FROM THE WORLD'S BIGGEST MAYONNAISE JAR, IN THE HEART OF THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAIN REGION, NATURAL BRIDGE OR AS THE LOCALS IN ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY CALL IT, "NATTY B," WAS A COOL WAY TO KILL TWENTY MINUTES.|
|MOM WASN'T KEEN ON SWIMMING EITHER. I HOPE SHE DIDN'T CHIP A NAIL TAKING DAD'S PICTURE AT THE SEA-BREEZE MOTEL, IN WEST ATLANTIC CITY. ODDLY, THIS MOTEL IS STILL THERE, (LESS THE POOL), EXCEPT THEY NOW CATER TO WELFARE RECIPIENTS AND CRACK WHORES.|
|LIKE MY LITTLE IVY PLANT, MOM GREW WITH THE TIMES. IN THE PSYCHEDELIC 60's AND INTO THE DISCO 70's, SHE WAS ALWAYS AN A-LISTER.|
My mother had a great sense of humor. Unlike my dad who tried so hard to be funny but wasn't, mom, if you took the time to listen to her, was hysterical without trying.
|ONE OF MY FAVORITE PICTURES. EARLY 70's ON A BOAT RIDE NEAR RIMOUSKI, QUEBEC, CANADA|
Mom loved to travel. She could remember the smallest details of each trip.
|THE BULK OF MY HUMOR I GOT FROM MOM. IN THE MID 70's, AS I GREW TALLER THAN HER, (AS YOU CAN TELL FROM THAT CLOWN SHIRT), MY AUDACIOUSNESS DID TOO, (TOO BAD I WASN'T WEARING THE SQUIRTING FLOWER ACCESSORY).|
|MY SISTER ORGANIZED A 25th ANNIVERSARY TRIP (1975) TO HAWAII FOR MY FOLKS. HERE, UNDER THE ALIAS "LELANI" MY EVER-PHOTOGENIC MOM POSES IN PARADISE.|
Maybe if my plant was never cropped, it could have climbed as high as the World Trade Center.
|IN THE EARLY 80's, MY MOM (left) AND HER SISTER ATOP ONE OF THE TWIN TOWERS.|
In 1998, together with my mom, we took my son Andrew to the Philadelphia Zoo. It was a long walk from the parking lot to the entrance and within minutes inside, mom declared that she would sit out the rest of the trip. Although she had side-stepped other health problems up to that point, that moment has stayed with me as the beginning of her major physical problems.