Today would have been my wonderful mother's 103rd birthday. The last time I could celebrate a birthday with her was in 2008. She passed away on February 27, 2009. I miss her so much. Perhaps it is because in recent years I have learned that mothers range from the kind of wonderful person Mom was to really horrible people who did real damage to their children.
One thing that comes to mind about Mom is food and cooking. When I was a child growing up I remember the good meals we had at home with Mom doing the cooking. One of the few criticisms I can make of Dad is that he was a lousy cook. That could be why when I was in the Boy Scouts Mom said one night at dinner that all men should know how to cook. She then proposed that I get the cooking merit badge in the Boy Scouts. I reacted really positively to that. I enjoyed learning how to cook.
Over the years my life took several interesting turns. One thing was doing graduate work in physics at Vassar College. Because of that -- and some photography I did being photography editor of the Vassar yearbook that year -- I met Dominique, a young French woman. She got me interested in, among other things, French culture. I developed a taste for French food as a result. After that when I wanted to impress a date, I would take her to a French restaurant. For Mom's 90th birthday I took her to a French restaurant. Mom enjoyed that dinner. Much before this -- when Mom was still living independently in New Jersey -- one weekend when I was visiting her I took notice of the shelf of cook books that Mom had. I said to her "Mom you are not using those French cook books. Can I have them?" Mom gladly gave them to me. I started learning how to cook French dishes. Oh -- I am still learning. If I had a wife and family I might be doing French cooking more often and trying more dishes.
Mom was clearly going downhill at Christmas in 2008. I told the assisted living place where Mom was then living I wanted to take Mom to church on Christmas Day. Could they help Mom be ready for that special day? I don't know what they did, but from the time I picked up Mom that Christmas morning to go to church and then spend time together throughout the day Mom was fine. She enjoyed church and then lunch. I took her for a drive that afternoon. She enjoyed that. When we got back to my place I cooked a lovely dinner of roast chicken. Mom enjoyed that dinner very much. After dinner I took Mom back to the assisted living place. That Christmas Day was so enjoyable. I did not know it would be the last one I would spend with Mom.
The next day I got Mom out of the assisted living place again. I brought her to my place. One of the ingredients in the French dish chicken with mornay sauce is cold cooked chicken which you reheat in a fry pan. Yes, I cooked that for Mom. She really enjoyed that dinner! That made me so happy!
The next time I went to the assisted living place to take Mom out again was only a couple of days later. The staff could not wake her up. They told me that if I wanted to visit Mom to come there at lunch time. That is what I did for the next few months. Then on Friday evening February 27, 2009 I got a phone call from the assisted living place that Mom had passed away. I still remember that last lunch with Mom.
I remember so many other things as well. One thing I remember is Mom and Dad taking me to see My Fair Lady on a Broadway stage. That was such a positive day I still remember it. Then there was the last football game of Rutgers 1961 season. Rutgers entered that game with 8 wins and 0 losses. Their last opponent was Columbia. Columbia roared off to a good start and had a significant lead in the third quarter. Then Rutgers pulled off a comeback! With not just Mom and Dad and me but everyone on the Rutgers side of the field cheering on the Rutgers football team they pulled off a victory! Oh – my father and grandfather both went to Rutgers. That is why I have such a strong connection to that school.
What are some other memories of Mom? Mom taking me on trips to Philadelphia with a woman Mom became friends with at work well before I was born. Mom encouraging my photography when I was in the Boy Scouts. Oh – when I was old enough to be a Cub Scout Mom became Den Mother of the Cub Scout Pack that met in our home weekly. Mom and Dad taking me to St. James on normal Sundays when I was growing up. And not normal Sundays? There were trips to Trinity Cathedral in Trenton. Mom and Dad both encouraging my interest in science fiction when I was growing up. Then there was learning to read. I grew up in a home filled with books. Mom and Dad did much reading. Mom told me when I was a mature adult that I had become a real pest as a boy growing up in home filled with books with parents that did much reading. So they started teaching me how to read when I was only 3. Mom probably did more of the teaching. She was a stay at home Mom until I began high school. I remember complaining when Mom went back to work. Mom and Dad told me that Mom was doing it for me. By working for pay, Mom would be able to help me pay for college. I was also told that I was now grown up enough that I could be on my own for the hour or so when I was at home after a day at high school before Mom got home. I realized quickly that my parents were right.
Then there were the trips to Canada. Dad's mother had been Canadian. She sadly died before I was born. I still remember going to Canada as a boy growing up. Those trips broadened my life in so many ways. Mom and Dad both exposed me to so many things that helped me develop my mind in so many ways. By being warm, caring people from warm caring families they also helped me develop a caring personality. By teaching me so much they also helped me to develop intellectually as an independent caring person.
Enough for now. More later.