Several of my memories of Mom center around birthday parties and cakes.
Having the entire 2nd grade (including the teacher) over for a fete under the crabapple trees in our suburban NY yard; later, after we'd moved to Big D, staying up 'til all hours waiting for Her Eldest (moi) to arrive home from college and greeting me with a Sara Lee Banana Cake (at the time my very fave, but apparently discontinued), candles and all.
Then there was the Excellent Adventure, which took place quite recently. Mom baked an All Chocolate Confection (tastes change with age, apparently) at the age of almost 80, had Daddy drop her at the Metro, trained 45 minutes out to the DC suburbs, and called announced from the pay phone at the Metro station.
"Happy Birthday." Terse, no prelude. "Come pick me up." She never minced words, that one.
I was born on Mother's Day. Mom used to tell me over and over again: "You were born when the lilacs were in bloom." When Mom smelled lilacs, she thought not of 24-hour, scary labor, but of Her Eldest.
Mom died two years ago in San Fran. She was an accomplished woman, when that term was still an oxymoron of sorts, and I was always proud of her for being different from all the other moms. And I inherited lots from her. Just last nite, while watching "Father of the Bride" on ABC Family with Ella Numero Dos, The Kid made a smart-ass crack; I promptly returned fire.
"Gosh, I just heard Baba come right out of your mouth!" The Kid exclaimed. No surprise there. Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I don't see myself, but Mommy staring back.
I'd like to honor My Mom, with the obit that ran in The San Fran Chronicle two years ago. The photo above was taken during her Pan Am years. I have edited, of course, To Protect The Innocent.
June R. died Wednesday, after a valiant struggle with Alzheimer's. June, who was predeceased by Frank, her husband of 52 years, died at home in SF, where she moved 10 months ago to live with her daughter.
During the 1940s, June had lived on Nob Hill in San Francisco, when she worked as a flight attendant for Pan American. Born in New Castle, IN, she was an air travel pioneer with her identical twin, Joanna. They were among the first wave of female flight attendants.
Before taking to the air, June and Joanna briefly worked as secretaries in the US Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua. June first flew for TACA Airlines, based in San Jose, Costa Rica. During that time, she appeared in National Geographic in an article on Costa Rica. The photos were taken by the late, famed Geographic photographer Luis Marden. June embarked on countless flights on propeller planes throughout the Far East and Latin America. On February 27, 1948, she was on board and helped to successfully evacuate a DC Clipper bound for Calcutta that crashed after takeoff at San Francisco Airport.
Before returning to SF in 2005, June lived on Capitol Hill in DC with her husband for more than 20 years. After raising two daughters, June worked as an executive secretary at Tiffany and Co. in New York City, then briefly for a congressional committee in DC. During her retirement, she volunteered extensively, including at the National Gallery, the Kennedy Center and the National Cathedral. Survivors include her daughters and two granddaughters.
Folks who read that obit, which also ran in The Washington Post, still remark about Mom and her amazing life. I was stopped at the grocery store just the other day.
"Hey, Melisa B.," a neighborly acquaintance interjected, somewhere between the baked goods & the gallon jugs of distilled water. "Lovely tribute to your Mom."
John Lennon wrote "Julia" for "The White Album." Click on the title of this post for a listen. The lyrics pay homage to Lennon's Mom, and I dedicate it to My Mom. Happy Mother's Day!