The Mother of All Mothers

Hi, Boomers,

I’ve been thinking about my mother.  She died two years ago December 15th.  Thursday was a tough day for me.  I was teaching yoga – 5 classes in a row – and I kept experiencing emotional flooding with my need to have one of those great conversations with my mother, Estelle, Stella by Starlight.  Difficult not to want her be available, to long for her comfort, her emotional support.  “Guess what, mom,”  I met a new guy!”  “Guess what, mom, I just finished my fifth speech.”  “I’m going to make it, mom, and I’m going to get my twenty speeches in by June.  Maybe before.”

“I’m so proud of you, honey.  I told you you could do it.”

She always told me I could do it.  She was never, ever negative about my aspirations and my passions.  She was the ideal of creative and endurance and passion so I had an amazing role model.  “In the face of no, let’s go.”  Her motto echoes with me every day, every moment I am really tired and search for the energy to go on, be independent, be on my own, make my own decisions.  I want a pal, a support group, a cheerleader, and she filled that role.  I could always count on that.  She was always there for me.  She never said:  “I’ll call you back.”  I was too important to her.  Okay, sometimes she had meetings to go to, tap dancing rehearsals, aerobics to teach.  That was all in a day’s work for Estelle.

What I really liked about my mother was her ability to shake off the negative and move forward, her need for growth and change, her charge to take people at face value.  One of my great memories of her – and there were so many – was at a party she was giving.  I don’t remember the season (it seemed like summer), but I remember there were all kinds of people there – priests, friends, lesbians, blacks, assorted varieties of mankind – and she told me to serve h’orderves to everyone.  She had meticulously dressed me for the occasion.  My mother made all my clothes and I always turned out in the latest styles, like a “band box,” as she used to tell me.  Don’t get the wrong impression:  I wasn’t her wind up doll.  I was always “the good girl,” “the dutiful girl,” the girl who did what was expected and what was responsible.”  That was all on my own.  I don’t know how I got that way but I think she gave me a huge dose of her DNA.  However, the party guests fascinated me.  What a group of disparate people who came together because Estelle invited them; Estelle was having one of her famous parties.  I knew my mother was special.

There was only one time in my life when my mother and I were at odds.  It was the moment when I told her I was separating from my ex-husband.  Boy, was she mad!  And she didn’t even like my ex!  Just the fact that I, the perfect daughter, was going to get a divorce some time soon was enough for her to blow her top.  We were sitting in the waiting room together in the convalescent center where my grandmother was residing.  We were getting up to see my grandmother when my mother’s dark eyes fired up .  “How could you! We don’t get divorced in our family!”  Yes we did; we got divorced – my grandmother and my aunt both divorced several times in their lives.  What was she talking about?  It was made up because she was angry.  I was so unhappy, so beyond mental and emotional repair in my marriage and my mother was not on my side.  In a moment she calmed down, however, because she quickly forgot about her anger at me and wanted to make my life as comfortable as possible through it all.  And she did.  She was there.  She was my champion.

Throughout the years of my change and growth and transformation, my mother was ever present.  No judging, no labeling.  She accepted David, my long term companion and adored him, accepted him, joked with him, flirted with him because she knew he took care of me with support and love.  It was amazing to me how she read situations and circumstances so accurately in my life even though my actions and decisions may not have been her cup of tea.  Nevertheless, respected and admired my choices.  She always knew that I was a bohemian at heart, a chip off the old Jewish/Russian block, and like her, just tolerated the Irish claque that appeared on holidays.  How she endured those holidays I’ll never know.  But she looked stunning in her designed clothes, the ones she so carefully made for every occasion and her makeup and hair were perfect.  I was going to be like that when I grew up.

It’s was an amazing journey growing up with Estelle as the pilot and my father as her co-pilot.  He loved that women with all his heart and his soul and told her so every day.  I wish I had done the same – told her I loved her every day.  There is a void and I miss her but she is in my heart and soul, too.



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