Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ugh, more snow? What I meant was...

This morning finds Colorado digging out from another spring storm. No one can really bitch too much about it, as we desperately need the moisture and that's just how the climate is around here. I get a little bummed out because the plows (a good thing) pile snow up in front of my alley, and it's hard to get my car out unless I shovel that plowed snow (a bad thing).

But I didn't really want to post on the snow. This week marked what would have been my mom's 72nd birthday.

I guess I can blame this one on Facebook. People have posted a lot of family photos, and it has been really fun to see both the families of people how they were when I was growing up, as well as of their kids and families now.

I also heard a statistic this week that unemployment hasn't been this high since 1983, the year I graduated from high school. The following year, my dad lost his job, and, being the selfish teenager I was, the first words out of my mouth were, "Can I still go away to college this fall?" I still cringe when I think of that, even more so now that I'm a parent and I know how much is involved in financing kids' activities. I did get to go away to college after all, by the way.

But I guess it's these things that have me wondering about what my mom would be like at this age, and what she would think about how I've turned out. She was certainly a product of her time. She and dad (who just turned 74 and is going strong) had three kids in the space of three years, which I know I've mentioned before but it never ceases to astound me.

She grew up in Pine Bush, NY, the daughter of a teacher and a large animal vet who worked for Cornell. She enrolled in nursing school at St. Luke's hospital, in New York City, and got her nursing degree. After she graduated, she and a friend drove out West, and spent 6 months sightseeing and working. To hear her tell it, all you had to do to get a job was to tell the nursing supervisor where you went to school and who your nursing supervisor was there, and you could get a job. I've always been impressed that, as two single women, they had the chutzpah to go on this adventure. I think it was the late 1950's.

She moved to Cleveland, I assume because that's where her friend was from, and at the almost-old-maid age of 24, met my dad at a party and they were married a year later. She stayed home with us kids until I was going to start first grade. I still remember getting her all to myself that year, when I only had half day kindergarten. Can you imagine? She almost had her freedom, the third kid ready to start school and.... she gets pregnant with my younger brother. Ouch. This must have been very difficult for her, for both of them, but she stayed a stay at home mom until he went off to school, and then continued working as a nurse.

Unfortunately, she was a smoker, and could never manage to quit. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that had spread to her lungs (or maybe the other way around?) in 1993, during a summer that she was in and out of the hospital, and we were all firmly in denial of the incomprehensible idea that she could die. I regret that no one ever acknowledged that she was actually dying, she just got sicker and sicker and then she was gone.

I wish she and Mr W could have met. They would have been fast friends, and I'm so grateful that he's got his grandma on his dad's side that treats him the way a grandma should (treats, gifts, a good listening ear).

She was a huge Cleveland Browns fan, in the glory days of Brian Sipe and in the days when the team was actually a contender. We'd watch the games on Sundays, and I must have been in junior high at the time. She hated to watch the games alone, and my dad would get so worked up that he had to go upstairs and read, or go take a walk. She'd get all excited when the Browns would make a good play, and in her euphoria, she'd pinch the upper arm (hard, sometimes!) of the closest person.

To say that I miss her is not quite getting at it. It's like with my sister. There's simply a hole there that can't really be filled. We are so adaptable as people, though, that this stuff teaches what we can deal with ourselves and what we need to call on our support circle (that's so new agey, but still) for.

Happy Birthday, Judy!


  1. I know your mom would like the person you have become and be very proud of all you have done. It is a testiment to her that you are who you are - her "work" on you (and your dad's too, of course) shaped you in the first stages of you becoming a capable, self reliant, caring person. :)

  2. Linda, I did not know your mom but all I can say is that anybody who had anything to do with your upbringing should be very proud of his/her involvement. You are such a mature and kind person who puts so much thought into what she says and does, is so passionate and humble about her work and clearly loves being a mom - you have all the attributes my grandmother would say would make a complete person.


Hi, sorry to make the humans do an extra step.