Mom Ago and Far Away

Mom, Dad, Jimmie & Karen - 1950Mom, Dad, Jimmie & Karen - 1950I've been working on a family project that took me into the boxes of old pictures. This one stopped me in my tracks for a long, reflective view. It was taken in the summer of 1950 on the swing behind my grandparents' house in Niles, Ohio.

Dad would have just turned 25 and looks a little overwhelmed. Just four years previously he had returned to Ohio after serving with the Navy as it fought its way across the Pacific. He and Mom had been high school sweethearts and as soon as he returned, they got married and "got busy." Little Jimmie would turn 3 at the end of the summer and little Karen had just passed her first birthday.

My younger sister and brother had not yet made the scene, but this looks like it's already enough for Mom. I can see the dark circles under her eyes that show that she was not well at the time. But there's also a strength and a hopefulness there that carried her through the raising of eventually four kids, dealing with an eventually alcoholic husband and coping with all those other eventualities of history and circumstance that make life "what happens while you were making other plans." She was 26 years old.

But isn't that what Moms do? Isn't that why we celebrate them this weekend? They say that "home is the place where when you have to go there they have to take you in." And it's usually Mom who's there at the door. I know some people have problematic, even abusive, mothers; and I have to admit that Mom and I had our share of knock down drag outs. But the steel you can see in her eyes was always there for me. And her Pollyanna optimism that got her through the Great Depression and all the rest that life threw her way is still with me as we struggle with our economy's latest challenges.

Mom's enjoying a healthy, happy, well-deserved retirement in Tucson, so I won't see her this weekend. But I'll have the good fortune to share Mother's Day celebrations with others at the Back Bay Cafe. Last year we had a regular customer call for reservations for "Two Mothers." Their kids weren't here, but we fussed over them and applauded their noble motherliness. It does take a village. And we salute the village's Mothers. Thanks!

...and Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I'll call you when I get done at the Cafe.