Tag Archives: Mom

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On this Mother’s Day, we remember our mother.

Like a lioness with her cubs, our mom was always with her “boys.”

When I look back on some of our photos, there is mom in the middle of her four boys.

I recall one time when my mother was talking about not having any daughters without regret.  Her boys were always there for her.

She did however have four daughters-in-law at one point but again always talked about her “boys.”

The eldest brother, Larry was the first at everything.  The first son to work and go to college.

My parents had started working after high school and it was a big deal for Larry to head to college.

My dad knew that times were changing and without a college education one couldn’t get a good-paying job.  He wanted better for us, to work with our minds rather than our brawn.

I’d often sit and watch my mom clatter away on the big silver Royal typewriter helping young Larry type up his term papers.  Mom worked at the Federal Reserve years before as a secretary, and boy could she type.

Her eyes were firmly fixed on Larry’s hand-scribbled notes and then she would transform it into a beautifully typed paper.

Larry’s first job was in our local library.  He loved being around books all day.  It may have added to his nickname “Mr. Bookbags.”

Even today, Larry is often seen with his bookbag briefcase, which when you see him with it, you would think that he’s carrying the presidential football with the launch codes inside.

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It’s always a topic that comes up at family gatherings.

Francis was the third oldest but the next to move out of the house.

He got a job in New Jersey and moved into the home of Mrs. Fisher along with two co-workers from his plant.  I guess mom felt OK with that as he wasn’t totally on his own.

Francis was mom’s favorite.

Hey, I knew it even though she said that she loved us all equally and didn’t play favorites.  I guess it’s because he was self-reliant at a young age and never complained.

He also didn’t mind eating liver at dinner.

Yech!

Liver: It’s What’s (Ick!) for Dinner

Andrew is the second oldest and was next to move out — across the street.

At one point four of us were in that back room until it was just Drew and me.  Funny thing was that even though we slept in the same room, we hardly saw each other.

He’d be up early and head out to work and by the time I went to bed he was already asleep.

When he finally moved out, he and my mom went to a few stores to help him make over his condo.

I got to tail along, and Mom had some great decorative tips.  Drew was kind of just looking into functional stuff, whereas Mom had a bit more flair.

What turned up was a nicely decorated home that when Drew had company over there were nice chairs and a couch instead of beach chairs and fold-away tables.

Lastly, sadly Mom moved out after she had a stroke on St. Patrick’s Day.

She was just taking a ham out of the oven when she felt dizzy and my dad and I spent that evening with her at the hospital.

Remembering Mom and Dad

She recuperated for a year later in a nursing home and on her birthday, we told her that dad wasn’t going to make it.

He passed away a few days later but her boys were with her each day to pick her up and take her to see dad and hold his hand.

I guess we all had to experience that pre-wake moment where we got to tell dad things before he left us.

I started by telling something that I did about 20 years earlier and then Andrew chimed in about how the car was scratched.

Even though I was the last in the house, mom would ask me to hang drapes and move what where.

She did have several weeks when she came back home from the nursing home over the next few years, but it was a sad occasion without my dad there to cheer her up.

She did help me make Irish beef stew and told me that my dad said that mine was better than hers.

He never told me that — only that it was as good as Mom’s.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Facing the Reality That Your Parents Are Getting Older

It is hard to know when I first noticed that my parents were aging.

The closer you are to a subject, the more your perceptions are distorted and you don’t see as clearly.

For example, my mother and the mother of a childhood friend of mine both grew up in Germany.

When I would visit my friend, I was always struck by how thick his mother’s accent was so many decades after living in the states.

One day my friend remarked on how thick my mom’s German accent was, and I was like: What accent?

So too it has been in discovering that my parents have gotten older.

The revelation was most forcefully driven home after they had been traveling with a bus tour and Dad tripped in a parking lot and fell, fracturing his arm.

A trip to the emergency room and later his own doctor back at home left his arm in a convoluted sling that rendered the arm immobile and pretty much useless.

I learned that Mom had to feed Dad because his dominant arm was out of commission. He was also having difficulty sleeping because of the discomfort and pain.

When my wife and I visited a few weeks after Dad was on the mend, it was shocking to see Mom sticking a napkin under his collar while he ate with his non-dominant hand.

And a month after that, Dad fell off a chair while reaching for something on the floor while visiting us. I was in the kitchen when I heard a noise and the next thing I saw was Dad on his side on the floor.

It was quite the shock to see Dad — an authority figure who commanded respect and who I remember from childhood as being the strong guy I turned to for leadership — out of commission like that.

My reflections on all of this resurfaced after my brother-in-law’s father recently died at age 90. Ed’s dad was an energetic go-getter who unexpectedly took a bad turn after heart surgery.

And within weeks of his death, my former father-in-law, a contemporary of my Dad’s, also died years after learning he had Parkinson’s disease.

Dad has had a heart attack,  a defibrillator installed and significantly slowed down over the past six years. There have also been a couple of medical crises set off by high heat and lack of hydration.

All of that said, Dad, who will be 79 in the fall, is in good spirits and will soon have physical therapy. He is even driving again.

Mom looked a little worse for the wear immediately after all of the strain of his fall but things seem be more settled.  Though she complains about being old, there’s not much slowing her down.

They live in a retirement community that residents euphemistically call “God’s waiting room.” While there’s a bit of gallows humor about that, there is no escaping that, in the end, time claims everyone, including your parents.

Baking While Intoxicated

When I was a kid, the weeks leading up to Christmas were literally the sweet spot for my Dad and my sisters and I because Mom would be baking up a storm.

Butter cookies in the shapes of trees and wreaths with colored crystals sprinkled on them, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, linzer tarts, butter cookies with a dollop of melted chocolate in the center…you name it, she was pumping these tasty treats out like crazy in the cramped kitchen of our Bronx apartment.

The sounds of whirring electric beaters and clanging cookie sheets could be heard until well past 10 p.m. as she baked mounds and mounds of cookies for family and friends.

This was also a special time of the year since, as I got older, I could help her in the kitchen to prepare the dough and do KP. I got to spend time at my mother’s elbow learning how to bake, but just as importantly, simply to spend time with her.

Her talents in mass-producing such delectable treats sparked a cat-and-mouse game between Mom and the rest of the family. She would have to hide the many tins brimming with cookies so my sisters and Dad and I would not raid them.

(I recall sneaking cookies from the tins and rearranging the layers so as to hide my tracks and make it appear nothing had been removed. Forget it. I had Dick Tracy for a mother and she could spot the telltale signs of cookie pilfering.)

True story: When in my teens I transcribed many of my mother’s recipes on a typewriter, I included these instructions at the bottom of her butter cookie recipe: “Place into cookie tins and scream at husband and kids for eating them all just before Christmas.”

That notation was but just one example of what a major smart ass I was as a kid. As much as I admired Mom’s baking prowess, it was not beyond the reach of the snarkiness of my young adulthood.

Back then, and even today, Mom liked her cordials and her occasional beer. Well, one night (30 years ago to the month, in fact) she was baking and quaffing her thirst in the hot kitchen with a Michelob beer.

What came next was that she burned a batch of cookies and, separately, realized she forgot to add eggs to one of her cookie doughs!

While it’s more likely that fatigue rather than imbibing contributed to these errors, it was fodder for yours truly to write up a “ticket” for B.W.I: Baking While Intoxicated.

My Mom kept the ticket, lo these many years, and as you can see in the photo I noted under “Course of Action: Lock up all the liquor to prevent nipping. (She has a previous record of making too much merry with Hagen Daz cordial.)”

It was signed by “U.R. Sloshed, Officer in Charge (Kitchen Detail).”

But here’s the thing: No matter how much baking I do, my handiwork still cannot compare to hers – even if she’s been tippling!