Remembering

August 24, 2021

My dearest, lovely mother shuffled off this mortal coil, Sunday, August 15, 2021. There is so much I’d like to write about her, and I will in time, but right now my mind is full of sweet little memories I’d like to share, if I may.

My mom was so many things to me. She, of course, was the one who brought me into this world. Although I did let it be known that I did not ask to be born, during many a childhood snit. But that would get me nothing but a serious side-eye. 

She taught me many things but one thing I cherish most is her sharing with me a fascination with words. She had an impressive vocabulary and would often stump me with a turn of phrase. “Look it up in the dictionary,” she would say whenever I asked her what something meant. I would look it up, begrudgingly at first. But after a while it became routine and even fun. Words. Good.

About fifteen years ago I decided to move away from my anemic graphic design career and more toward illustration. Mom was my biggest cheerleader then. It was before Facebook and Instagram when I started this blog as a way to practice sketching and putting myself out there. My blog was being viewed by possibly three people at most. But every time I posted a sketch or an essay I could count on her to leave a little comment of encouragement or wit. Even after I began to build a bit of a community and started getting plenty of comments I was never really satisfied until I saw that Artsea Fartsea (her blog handle) had commented. 

My mom loved attending writing and art classes at Ventura Community College. During that time she started her own blog where she would post short stories, based on experiences from her childhood and her young life in the 40’s and 50’s. She also posted her wonderful acrylic paintings on the blog as well. A couple of bloggers we were and became a mutual admiration society for each other. Those were good days.

Mom was great at lending an ear and giving wise and caring advice, along with a nice, hot cup of tea. Although I didn’t appreciate this in my younger days, being the know-it-all I was, I eventually recognized the valuable counsel she was bestowing upon me. Nothing like tea and sympathy from your mom.

Her name was Marion but those closest to her, if you didn’t call her mom, referred to her as Mame, including herself. Myself, I called her Madre. It started in the 80’s for some unknown reason. I’m sure I thought I was being quite witty. Well, it stuck and she began signing birthday and Christmas cards as well as emails to me with the moniker. 

Madre and I never got together without going out for lattes before, after or during, (sometimes all three) any event. Her’s was a tall, extra foamy, breve latte, mine was a double short, non-fat cappuccino, but we just called it getting lattes. Every now and then we’d go to Palermo’s, our favorite cafe in downtown Ventura and order ourselves gelato. Nothing could put a smile on her lovely face faster than the notion of walking down the street, sitting in the little patio, people-watching and polishing off some of that yummy, frozen Italian dessert. In fact, the last time we spoke I had promised her we’d go get a gelato in a couple of days.

Sadly we were unable to. I did however head straight to Palermo’s on Sunday and ordered myself her current favorite flavor, half pistachio and half raspberry sorbet. You know, it never tasted so sweet. I was eating it for two I suppose. 

happy father’s day

June 20, 2010

For the past 8 years Father’s Day for me starts out with a reawakening of an otherwise, slowly, dulling grief. Thankfully this tends to be short lived as typically, in the midst of reminiscing, something else begins to happen. The sad and troubling thoughts swirling around my head, give way to a flood of happier and more endearing memories of my dad.

I begin to recall things like the big, infectious, toothy grin that would light up his face as he told one of his signature, corny jokes for the 45th time.

I remember, being 5 years old, and him throwing my sisters and I over his shoulder, calling us sacks of potatoes, then tossing us, sending us flying through the air and onto our beds, squealing with laughter and begging him to “do it again, do it again!” He knew we were conspiring to avoid lights out, but he would indulge us a few more times anyway.

He was an endless source of drawing paper, or tablets as he called them. He’d bring them home from work for myself and my sisters. We’d fill them up with “kid art” as fast as he could bring them.

At 14, I discovered in myself, a natural artistic ability when he bestowed upon me some old oil paints, a palette and some “how-to” books, he had dabbled with years before.

My dad had a penchant for tall tales, or at least they seemed tall. My sisters and I would roll our eyes as he told us of his past exploits, like how he had pitched for the Pittsburg Pirates. After snickering in our sleeves for Read the rest of this entry »

happy birthday

December 11, 2007

dad2.jpg

On the way to work this morning, I found myself thinking about my dad. Tom and I were listening to Tamara Jenkins, writer and director of the new film “The Savages” being interviewed on “Fresh Air” with Terri Gross. She was sharing an insightful, poignant, witty, and very real account of the relationship between her and her father during his last days. Although it was an enjoyable interview, it brought up some very powerful emotions regarding my own similar experiences.

As Tom and I barreled down the the 118, heading for our respective offices, the mood was one of wistful introspection. Then a lightening bold hit me. Read the rest of this entry »