If my mother was still living, today would have been her 79th birthday. She died in '95, and truth be told I've never "gotten over it." I don't know if I ever could. I don't know that we're meant to. Last year I wrote a tribute to her virtues, but in reading over it now, I think I may have forgotten to give a picture of what a figure of pure FUN and delight my mother could be.
She grew up in a poor family in the 30s and 40s. Pictures of her from that time period are hard to come by, especially compared to the sheer number of pictures people take today. She's in her mid-teen here, rolled up jeans, posing with a baseball bat. She and her sisters all played softball growing up, in school and on teams. She picked up the love of the game from her immigrant father. For close to 30 years we had full season Padres baseball tickets. Dad and I were both huge fans of the game too -- but mom was the one who was the "go to" who remembered who was traded for whom, and all the statistical details. When each of my parents died, I ensured a ball that was caught at one of the games went in each casket. (Yes, we sat behind home plate, and yes I have a stash of them from over the years. Not a huge number, but more than most people come up with in a lifetime.)
Mom also LOVED to travel and was extremely down to earth and never put on airs. And she didn't have much truck with people who did. She loved to garden and had a green thumb I could only dream of having. [I think I got a recessive "kiss of death thumb" from somewhere, because dad also had a green thumb.] My mom was also very good at "fixing things" in the carpentry department. Also a talent she got from her dad. Her ONE, SOLE advice to me as in matters of love and marriage was "don't EVER fall in love with a salesman, because they can't fix squat." [Dad was a saleman, who couldn't fix squat, as you may have guessed.] But mom had "the golden hands." When I was growing up we'd wait for him to go on a business trip before we'd change out the screen doors. Dad would attempt to "help" and the job would take twice as long.
As for traveling she was always ready to go some where. She loved seeing new places and old favorites. She was my favorite companion to go to Europe with, which we did together a number of times. Also Hawaii was a big family favorite. We were always at our best as a family when on vacation.
My favorite travel story with her was this: We'd decided to take the hovercraft from France to England. [Do they still have that?!] She hated small, fine print, and had asked me to fill out her declaration form for her. I asked her (she'd who'd been a housewife ever since she married my father) "what profession do you want me to put down for you?" She said, "oh, 'housewife' is so dull -- just put down 'socialite.'" I snorted, she laughed and said "Well, I'M SOCIAL, why not?"
Why not indeed? So I duly filled it in on the form. An hour or so later we'd finally gotten to the front of the line at customs and stood before a beaming young British lady who was looking at our forms. I'd quite forgotten my mother's exchange with me (we'd been distracted and amused by two travellers trying to elbow their way by everyone -- rather unsuccessfully, I might add.) But almost out of the blue, the Custom's lady looked at my mother (who was wearing non-descript "mom jeans" and a pull over shirt, and she said: "What's it *like* being a socialite?" We all burst out in gales of laughter.