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Mom, first communion day at 6-1/2 yrs old in 1927

With Mother’s day coming, I thought I might shift gears a little.

After moving from Portland to Texas, I was going through things and one pile was there ready to go out to the trash.  As I started to pick it up, a photo folder fell out.  It was a picture of my Mother when she was just about 6-1/2 years old, on her first communion day in 1927.  The notation there was that it was from St Mary’s church in Ford City, Pennsylvania.  Now, I knew she had grown up in the midwest, mostly in Ohio and Indiana, but this was someplace new.

Unfortunately, my mother died back in 1983, when she was just 62 and about 6 months before my son was born.  There are few, if any,  regrets I have in my life, but if there was one, it would be that my mother never got to see Johnny.  That sounds funny, because it has nothing to do with me really nor is or was it in my control.  If you learn nothing in life, it should be that you can’t worry about those things not in your control, but it doesn’t change how I feel about this one thing.  But after several years fighting lung cancer, she was at least in peace finally.

My mother was, as you might expect, a wonderful and amazing woman.  Her own mother died when she was about 12, from tuberculosis.  Her dad worked the pottery factories back in the midwest and drank like only a good Irishman could.  The stories of those days were always interesting and sometimes frightening.  I don’t know when, but her father married my step-grandmother sometime along the way and she helped my mom along her path to adulthood.  Mom went on to become a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Kent State (possibly the valedictorian as well as I remember) and apparently had been engaged to a man who died in WWII, an Army pilot, while there.  As I understand it, she received both her teacher’s credentials as well as her accounting degree.  Later, when she moved to LA, she became the office manager for the Screen Extras Guild and told us great stories of the stars she met.  Apparently, the Three Stooges rehearsed just down the hall from her and that, of course, was the most impressive piece of information to me when I was a child!  She would help some of my relatives get introduced into the business, but mostly she wasn’t too fond of it and never encouraged any of her own to pursue it.  After marrying my dad, who she met while working in Hollywood, she got to raise 3 boys and I know that I was the most difficult one.  After all, that was my job as the middle child.

Mom taught me a lot of things, she used to race me in the yard and I don’t think she ever won!  I remember in the late 50’s, early 60’s that she worked tirelessly for the American Heart Association.  On one occasion, when attending a major luncheon at a posh private club in LA, she, as the chairperson, and a small group of other ladies all took the service elevator to the banquet room floor together.  It seems one woman was black and not allowed in the “regular” elevator.

Mom encouraged me in almost everything I did while at the same time she accused me of causing all her gray hair.  One day while in the confessional, she was apparently confessing her anger with her children(me).  All the while, I was opening and slamming the door shut as she fought to keep it closed, telling me to go sit down and be quiet.  The priest asked if this was the child she got angry with, she said “yes”, he said ” it is no sin, go in peace!”

When we boys were all out of the house-or at least beyond help-she started teaching again as a substitute at the local high school (Weird Al was one of her students!) and I could tell that she loved being around those young people.   I don’t remember her missing any of our sporting events, sometimes even driving many miles on the back roads because she wouldn’t drive the freeway.

Seeing the picture again today made me think about life’s twists and turns and I thought about something that had stared me in the face for many years while I lived in Portland.  Sometime after getting there, a poster of the 21 Suggestions for Success by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.  surfaced in my house.  I think I saw it somewhere and just picked it up.  No, this isn’t the singer/songwriter, but the poster ended up sitting near my sink in the bathroom.  I saw it every day and probably read it everyday as well.  The first suggestion right there at the top of the page was:

“Marry the right person.  This one decision will determine 90% of your happiness or misery”.

I do believe that this is a very important and valid principle.

Then the last suggestion and most relevant as we approach this weekend:

“Don’t do anything that wouldn’t make your Mom proud”

With the way most mom’s are, at least I know this with mine, I think it would actually be difficult to violate that one!

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

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