It was complicated between me and mom. She was caring but not particularly loving. She was joyful but wouldn’t express joy with her kids. She made several bad choices but was ruthless about the choices her children made. She loved us but I don’t ever recall a hug. She didn’t understand the difference between pushing and aiding development.
Yet her kids grew up loving her and respectful of her. She was very smart and unlike her brothers and sisters didn’t graduate from college. Her mom and her aunts became ill and my mom took care of them. She was a brilliant cook and in that most verbal of families, New York Jews, expressed her love in the cooking and was rarely verbal.
Mom believed in causes that helped the common person. She worked toward a fair world and was embittered by the results. She helped developing the family’s UFW support into parties. On weekends we would all boycott doe the Farmworkers and then invite the leadership home. The kids who gave of themselves to help others. And she cooked and she cooked and they ate it all.
I don’t know why or how she did it but I’d come home after hearing an interesting new theory and she knew all about it and would discuss it with me. Some of the movements of today my mom introduced into our family as our practice decades and decades ago.
She was trained in the classical violin and conducted the Brooklyn College Orchestra ad wrote a symphony. But she let us kids, at least Faith and me, Faith with the piano and me with the clarinet play our instruments and she’d save to get us our musical instruments. I think it broke her heart when she gave up music and I don’t know why. I never hear my mother play the violin, express her joy.
She loved my father with all her heart and missed him so very much when he was away even when she was angry with him. My Dad died first and then my Mom, young for these days, both heavy, heavy smokers dying of lung cancer.