Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day! Make it one for the books!

Me and my Mom always ready for a day out, if it's scheduled

Mother's Day is time to honor all moms for all they do and all they mean to us. I'm no exception to paying tribute on this holiday, but seriously consider my good fortune all year round.  I was lucky to have an incredible mom. I'm also equally fortunate to be a mom to three amazing children.

Although it's been twelve years since my mom passed away, there's not a day that goes by that I don't think of her. I know she'd be thrilled to hear about how her grand-kids are doing, although she wouldn't be surprised by any of their successes, as she knew them to be the smartest, cutest, and most wonderful grandchildren ever. Part of her legacy lives in their strong will and independent thinking, but for me I've also got a collection of books that keeps me connected to her all the time.

December, 1989 when I became a mom of 3 (Rob, Rachel and Matt)

But a little backstory first. .

The fact that my mom was only eight when she lost her own mother, (and my dad when she was only 52), makes her story of strength, selflessness and devotion to her family even more incredible and, always from my perspective, inspirational.

We were close and enjoyed each other's company, although we differed in so many respects. My mom was a neat freak, with a schedule that was never departed from, even if something fun came along. I keep a clean enough house, but if you want to invite me for tea or shopping, I'll cancel the utensil drawer reorganization in a New York minute.

Along that ordered lifestyle, my mom would fill up her gas tank when it was still  three quarters full. A constant source of anxiety for my mom was my habit of  never pulling into a gas station  until the "E" light was flashing on my dashboard.

But my mom and I agreed on a lot more than we disagreed:  passion for family, politics, fine dining, vacationing, and bar none, that she had the best grandchildren in the world.

There are so many times, I wish I could call my mom and say, "you were right!", or, even at the age of 58, I'd desperately ask, "what should I do now?", because she would always know.

But we're still connected by memories, photos and oh, so many books!!

In recent years, I've found my mom talking to me through her book collection. After she retired,  and the newspaper strike ensued, my mom poured into books of all subjects. She frequented Borders and used-books stores with her list of tomes that she had read and those she wanted to read.

One of my favorite books from my mom's collection, The Mitford Sisters.

My brother, Ed, wisely, collected up all her books and stored them away, not letting them go in the estate sale. With additional wisdom, my sister-in-law, Sandy, organized a book sorting party a few years back with the family. She and Ed brought out all the boxes of books and with  my brother, Glenn, my hubby and some of the  kids, selected those that interested us most.

I gathered my selection with some focus and a lot with "that looks interesting".  I didn't really know what all I had. That is, until recently.

As I was doing research for my "historical teas" I found a wealth of books on a variety of relevant topics in the bookcase filled with my mom's collection. When I was searching for anything connected to the British aristocracy, once Downton Abbey came on the scene, I came across "The Mitford Sisters" by Mary Lovell.  It's a fascinating account of a wildly eccentric family with connections back to the 1500's, traced to Bess Hardwick. Making this even more extraordinary was my manager had given me the Bess Hardwick biography (also authored  by Mary Lovell) to read only a few months before.

I ended up interviewing Mary Lovell when I was writing for the on-line newspaper, The Examiner. Ms. Lovell thanked me for all I was doing to promote the reading of biographies.

In turn, I thank my mom.

And, now that I'm all about the Gilded Age, with a return visit  to my mom's collection,  I found two of Edith Wharton's most popular books, "House of Mirth" and "Age of Innocence", both of which I've read, courtesy of my mom.

A portion of the bookcase housing my mom's collection

Mother's Day tradition with my kids (aka,  three of "the best grandkids ever"), is to go out to an informal tea and just spend the afternoon together. This year, due to grad school schedules and other conflicting events, our tea will be next weekend - which will be perfect. Doesn't matter the date, just that we'll be together.

Mother's Day tradition of casual tea with the greatest kids!

To my mom, if I'd ever get the chance to make that call, I'd like to say, " I love you, you were right about everything, what do I do now?, the books are great we need to discuss and I filled up the tank today and the gas gauge wasn't even on Empty."  I might add in a whisper, ". . .but the utensil drawer is still crazy messy."

Happy Mother's Day to all and continue to make it one  for the books!!!

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