Happy Birthday MOM

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Wow, you would have been 91 today!!! I miss you so very much. I have so many memories of our life together. Growing up, NYC, Christmas, walking in the park, my wedding, just oh soooo many things. I love you Mom and I wish you a happy 91st birthday!!!

Miss you both

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Thinking about you. My Mom is on the right and her sister, my Aunt Gerri, is on the left. Together up on the beautiful coast of Maine. Love you guys!!!

So many wonderful memories of Maine and all the adventures….

 

Life! Moving faster then one even realizes!!

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March 21, 2016

It seems I have rekindled that itch to write again. I get this feeling of excitement just thinking of all the memories and things about Mom that I can write about!!

Mom, I sure do miss you. All this thinking I’m doing about writing has sure made a lot of memories pop up inside my head. I am anxious to get into your boxes of writing, information, history and stories! But.. My work, the house chores and activities seem to keep taking up my time!!

I am learning this new writing software program so I can have a place to collect and save everything. So far it is looking like a pretty awesome program and will do everything I need. Oh how I wish stuff like this was available to you Mom!!! I am certain that you would have absolutely loved it and been typing away….

Happy 2016!!!!

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Beginning another year and contemplating my next steps on getting this book idea going??

You see my Mom’s dream was to write and publish a book. She has oh so many files upon files of researched material about Pennsylvania, the coal mines and how our family fit into that scenario. How my grandfather lost 2 of his fingers down in the mines and what their lives were like. I found these precious bits of information written in pencil (oh yes, Mom says pencil was the only tool) on all kinds of pieces of paper filed into folders of a haphazard form of organization as if not quite sure how to approach the task. Years later and after her death, I find myself with the same daunting task! Where oh where do I start??? A voice inside my head seems to be repeating “just start and the road of travel will become evident”. and so my 2016 project begins….

 

 

Finding Dad!!!

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So lets see where are ? Mom is trying to begin a new life in the city (NYC), meets Dad and hangs out in the city with him for a few months, gets married and becomes pregnant. She leaves to go back home to have the baby and Dad stays in the city. Mom goes back to city to think of the memories and I think to see if she can find him but fails. As I later found out, Dad was actually AWOL from the Air Force. He turned himself in, served time and then got released. In the mean time I was born, dad has no idea, I live with Mom and my story continues. Mom and I go to the city always looking but never finding…

Now I am grown, my life intertwines around and into Mom’s life. I get married, have two wonderful children and my husband works as a supervisor for a trucking Co. We find ourselves on the move about every year! Mom would soon join us on our moving journeys. Mom was alone, never remarrying- oh she went on dates a few times but nothing ever amounted to any serious relationships… and so she came to live with us. My life through all of this can certainly consume a large part of another short story which someday may come to life but for now I will leave that for another time. The important thing right now is what happen in the year 1983. My husband, me, Mom and my children were living in New Windsor, NY. We lived in a townhouse were the living room, dinning room, kitchen and half bath made up the bottom floor and the upstairs consisted of 3 bedrooms and a full bath.

It all started some months before Christmas when my husband and I took a trip down to Essex, Connecticut. Only he and I knew what our mission was. Mom had no clue of my desire nor my determination to find my father, you see there was this part of me that had to put that last piece of the puzzle together. Searching for my Dad was something I needed to do. Something deep down inside of me said it didn’t matter what the out come would be any answer was a piece that would complete many answers to many questions.

It was a nice day when we pulled into town and headed to the town hall. This day would be marked in my memories forever. Little did I know that the search I though would take days, months, years to complete took only one whole afternoon! Wow, you can only imagine how surprised and overwhelmed I was that afternoon. I walked over to the reception desk and began my request for any information on my dad and his records. As I was explaining all the information this gentleman in the desk behind was listening to our plea. The receptionist was very busy and so this gentleman took over and set out to help us. Well, as it turns out the town hall was the old school so all the records were right down stairs. Arriving in the basement I began to explain and tell this gentleman everything I knew about dad and the year he graduated. Next surprise this man turns around, looks at me and says I graduated the year after your father but I have the yearbook from the year your dad graduated. He continues to say “I don’t know why I have that yearbook as I didn’t know anyone but I know right where it is” not only do I know where the yearbook is but the aunt that raised your dad is a very good friend of mine. It is lunch time so give me some time and I will call my friend and go get the yearbook too. So he left and we went out to our van and I tried to catch my breath. Here I was in a strange town asking about a man I had never met nor knew much about let alone expect to find anyone who knew him and had information. Wow… I was speechless and anxious and unable to sit still as I waited with great anticipation of what was to happen next.

Before long the gentleman came back and in his hand was the yearbook with 3 or 4 pages marked of where my father’s pictures were. He also said he had called and talked to dad’s aunt and she wanted us to come by and talk with her. So with yearbook in hand we got back in our car and headed over to some strangers home to meet the lady that raised my dad. This lady was so nice and friendly and very helpful. When we got there she had a few pictures pulled out and gave them to me. We talked for awhile and I could see she was as touched as I was to be a part of this discovery. As we drove away from town I had with me some precious treasures of my dad’s history and his telephone number. This was a day to remember and a day that reinforces the kindness of strangers. It definitely restores faith in humanity.

Back in NY, days after, I sat at the table starring at the phone. I’d pick it up, dial a number or two, put the receiver down, dial again. This went on for a long time until finally I just pulled my nerve from somewhere and let it ring. Then the ringing stopped and from the other side came a male’s voice “hello”. “Hi” I said “this is your daughter. I talked to your aunt and she gave me your phone number. I hope it is alright to call, my Mom is Stacie. Do you remember her?” and then there was silence… So I said “hello are you there?” and this voice came back and said something like “well you know, it’s hard to bring those skeletons out of the closet you know”. And then we had a nice long conversation and promised each other to stay in contact. We did just that and that following July 4th we would meet face to face for the first time!

It was now Christmas time and time for the company Christmas party. My husband and I went and had a great time. I had quite a few drinks and was feeling a bit on the brave side. Brave enough, I think, to let Mom in on the secret I had kept up until this point. She needed to know. My husband went upstairs to bed, the kids were sleeping and Mom and I were downstairs talking. She lay, stretched out on the couch, and I sat in the recliner chair just having random conversations. I finally scraped enough courage, sat back, looked at Mom and said “Mom I found Dad”. Well, she sat straight up on the couch, looked right at me and said “what?” with this expression of utter surprise. So I repeated it and began to explain all that had transpired. We stayed up late into the night as I brought back memories from deep within her past.

The next few months went on as usual and dad and I kept in contact. My husband was getting transferred to Maine so we planned a family camping trip to Maine. Dad and I made plans to meet for the first time….      (to be continued)..

An insert to yesterdays story “Legacy”

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I found this stapled together, 3 page short writing, that seems to be an extension of the first original story. Mom wrote this as an added description of the months following her meeting my Dad for the first time outside the RCA building. It looks to belong right after paragraph 6 ending with

(They looked out at the topless towers with their jeweled lights and a sky full of bright stars for their roof.).  Then the new addition:

The Magic of the city filled their days as late summer drifted into fall. They shared each others insignificant stories of their lives and explored each others dreams. On a warm Indian summer night, they sat late in the plaza. The aura that surrounds lovers shone on them like a light and made the few passers-by smile. As a waning moon hung over the tower of the RCA building, they planned their future.

A few days later, in downtown Manhattan City Hall, they were married. Natalie and Larry, their best friends, were the only ones present at the ceremony. The bride was pretty in her Lord and Taylor ensemble. She wore a dress of royal blue velvet and twisted her body slightly to regard her puff sleeves, very stiff and high. On her brown hair sat a blue pillbox. A short sheer veil, flowing from the hat, covered her forehead. In tiny hands, she held a round bouquet of red roses as deep as rubies.

It wasn’t long before the news that Mom was pregnant brought about a change in plans. She finished the semester at N.Y.U. and decided to go back home to await my arrival. Dad stayed on in the city.

The day my mother stepped off the train at Fairfield she stood among a few men, carrying brief cases, and looked beyond the depot toward the Post Road. Already, she could feel the town like an octopus reach out to strangle her. New York was like a veil lifting, alive, breathing. As she paced up and down the wooden planks waiting for a cab, the wheeze of the local could be heard as it rumbled down the tracks and made its way toward the city.

Mr. Green, the cab driver, knew everyone in town. As he greeted Mom, he deposited her bags in the car trunk. It was impossible to get anywhere in town without going through the village, and by driving along Main Street it is possible to see most of historic Fairfield. An eighteenth Century village it had little more to distinguish it from any other New England town center. The great elms along the wide tree shaded Main Street never added to the color, but their graceful shape added greatly to the landscape. Along the brick walks were a lively thoroughfare of boutiques, shops and country stores. They had names such as; The Cottage, House of Walsh, Sugar and Spice Bakery, The Tea Town Tavern, The Village Book Store and Eramus Cafe. Down the street at the corner of Main and Elm is the town library, its dormers staring out on all sides, its chimney poking its red snout above the red slate roof as it overlooks the Town Hall.

A short distance beyond, across from the “Town Green” the First Congregational Church building completes the village cluster. On this Revolutionary War site a brick church was constructed in the Romanesque Revival style in 1824. The old brick church was rebuilt in 1914 in an eighteenth century colonial style. The hurricane of 1945 blew away its steeple. The white wooden structure with its handsome stained glass windows and a new steeple now stands three feet higher. Old slate gravestones mark the ancient Indian burial ground in the churchyard. One hundred and three Revolutionary soldiers are also buried in this cemetery. Story has it that when the Indians gave the white man permission to bury their dead it was stipulated that burial would be at a dept of four feet, two feet above the Indians who were interred at a dept of six feet.

Church bell chimes echo in the air as the cab makes a left turn onto Bronson Road. Mom gazes out at the mellow old colonial brick buildings covered with hanging ivy. Its manicured shady lawn stretched for miles like a green carpet. We are now in “Greenfield Hill” a quintessential part of town that bears the indelible thread of the families who grew up here generation after generation. Its history lives on its beautifully kept agreeable melange of Federal, Georgian and Greek revival houses, and its preservation of the past.

Years ago the Bronson family imported dogwood trees from Japan. A June breeze skitters across the hill, and nips at the thousand cherry blossoms. They dance in a bright rainbow of colors; pink, white, lavender. She peers out the window at the flower stunning in its beauty, reaches out to pluck a petal as soft as silk. It is pure pink, except the merest touch of pale white. The air is filled with the sweet smell of cherry.

The cab pulled in front of the big white Victorian. In the late afternoon light the old house appeared weathered and gray. The rhododendron bushes leaned wearily against gray walls struggling to stay alive. Mom was home.

(then the story would pick up the original again with after I was born except now the story would have to eliminate that line and just begin with At least, once a month, on a Saturday she would go to the city.)    I think she went back one a month to see if she could find Dad again but never did.

Mom’s story in 1993!!

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This is the story she wrote for English class, April 28, 1993, and received an A-. The story was based on true facts but there are some events and names that have been changed. The ending of the story is one that made sense to her but is not real. She wrote this story as if it was me telling it (through my daughters eyes).

Legacy 

My mother did not want the same orderly life her mother had lived, in the same orderly kind of a house. A house that a good New England family had lived in generation after generation. A house of smothered emotions stifled beneath creaky iron armor called etiquette. She wanted something more. That’s why she went to New York City.  Against family protests Mom enrolled at New York University instead of a New England college close to home.

Upon her arrival in New York, Mom settled in a third floor walk-up apartment in “The Village”, a brownstone on Waverly Place. The attic could scarcely be called an apartment. It was one large lopsided room, with a sink and tiny kitchenette in a corner. A small white mantle fireplace heated the room. In the outside hall was a shared bathroom. She adored every inch of the place.

Natalie was my Mother’s roommate. Her feet were firmly planted on the ground. Natalie was a law student at N.Y.U. She had her daily schedule tacked to a cork board next to the door and stuck to it religiously. Mom would float down the three flights of stairs and drift toward Washington Square. Here she would mingle among the artists and students. It was amazing that she was never late for any of her classes.

On week-ends Natalie would go to Harrison, her hometown. Mom would invite her theater friends over and they would sprawl around on the soft throw rugs; listen to music, read poetry and act out scenes from their favorite plays. Then they would prowl the off-beat streets of the village and end up on McDougall Street. At a small table, under a green umbrella, they sat opposite each other and indulged in intoxicating discussions late into the day and night.

Mom’s summer job as a tour guide at Rockefeller Center was exciting. It was a hot summer afternoon when she waited on the comer of Tenth Street to board the Fifth Avenue bus to the center. She blinked at a sky so blue and clear it made her heart ache air so soft as silk she wanted to cry. She thought that there was nothing lonelier than a beautiful summer Sunday in New York. As the bus made its way uptown silent halls and rooms lined the deserted streets. New York was a ghost town. The bus stopped in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Mom crossed Fifth Avenue and made her way on the littered cracked pavement toward the plaza. The towers that comprise Rockefeller Center stared down on her. She stopped alongside the parapet; gazed down into the sunken court and listened to the mellow sounds of music from the orchestra playing in the French Restaurant. A garden of yellow umbrellas shaded the tables in the court from the afternoon sunlight. The white geraniums of summer bordered the fountain fed pools of the plaza. She smiled at the young people who came here to seek their dreams, walk the plaza and think of all that is to come. It was here on that summer afternoon that my mother met my father.

When she finished her last tour he was waiting outside the front lobby doors of the RCA building. They sat for a long time on a stone sofa overlooking the court. They discovered each other and found out that they had lived in neighboring New England towns. Later in an uncrowded elevator they soared to the top of the RCA building. Together they watched night fall over mid-town Manhattan. They looked out at the topless towers with their jeweled lights and a sky full of bright stars for their roof.

After I was born Mom returned to her New England town. At least, once a month, on a Saturday she would go to the city. I was eight years old when she first took me with her to New York City. It was the day after Christmas when we caught the New Haven Express at nine in the morning and arrived at Grand Central at 10:00A.M. It was snowing as we walked up Forty-Second Street toward Fifth Avenue. As we crossed Fifth Avenue I could see that the stone lions in front of the public library wore gigantic holy wreaths, tied with bows of scarlet ribbon. We went up and down “The Avenue” taking in all the scenes in the huge store windows. In Rockefeller Center, in front of the RCA building, the great Norwegian spruce sparkled with its luminous trinkets as it towered over Golden Prometheus floating above the ice rink. The bells of Saks Fifth Avenue haunt the crystal air as Mom and I stand in line for tickets to the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show. After the show we had a sumptuous Italian dinner at Mama Leone’s and then boarded the 8 P.M. train out of Grand Central to Fairfield.

I never saw that much of my mother all the years I was growing up. She was away most of the day at the office. We would have dinner with my grandparents, then off she would go to her classes. Bonnie’s mother, Mrs. D. was home all the time. Mrs. D. was the “Avon Lady” in the neighborhood. She would braid Bonnie’s hair, take us to gymnastics and on summer days drive us to Fairfield Beach.

My mother had this romantic air about her that was irresistible to little girls. One rainy Sunday afternoon she dressed Bonnie in a long lacy dress. She draped brilliant colored shawls over our shoulders and swept our hair up with beaded combs. On our heads she placed large brim yellow straw hats adorned with daisies and a wide yellow ribbon. She exclaimed with great delight, “My, don’t you all look like Southern belles.” Mother was gracious and beautiful in a long blue silk dress as she served afternoon tea, chocolate cookies and creme puffs on her good china.

Bonnie was really into Mom’s make believe and she sipped it all in as she drank her tea. She already longed for the stage and had the lead in our class play. Now, I never liked tea and tea parties and fancy dress weren’t really my thing. On Saturday afternoon I would put on my Yankee baseball suit and go up the street to play softball with the Simko boys. Afterwards, I would go into the woods with Ann Simko to search for bugs. Ann was one of those odd-ball genius kids who didn’t have any friends, except me. At Notre Dame High the girls would laugh when they saw her in the corridor with her big brown leather bag. I wouldn’t be caught dead carrying a book bag.

Mom had imagined that I would marry a rich man. After all hadn’t she given me everything; private schools, beautiful clothes. I met Peter at Fairfield University and we dated all through our college years. Peter went on to get his masters degree and doctorate. He taught Sociology at Fairfield University.

When Peter and I were married Mom insisted on a big wedding. She spent a year planning the affair and invited all our out of town relatives. On the morning of the big event there were three gowns displayed on the folded closet door in her bedroom. I suddenly realized that she still hadn’t made a decision as to which gown to wear. I knew that I would be of no help as my mind was already on its way to honeymoon land. Besides, I knew which one she would choose. Juliann, my maid of honor, ushered me back into my bedroom. When it was time to leave for the church Mom came into my room. Facing the mirror, I saw how stunning she looked in the peach fitted gown, with plumes on its long sleeve bolero jacket. The color was the same as Juliann’s. Mom picked up the white jeweled crown with its flowing finger tip veil and placed it gently upon my head.

My mother certainly knew how to put on a show. The wedding was expensive. After the reception when Peter and I went to our apartment the first thing to greet our eyes were all the yellow roses and bucket of champagne on the round white plastic table. I burst out, “Wouldn’t you think she had money to burn? She’s worked hard since the day I was born.” Peter put his arm around me; kissed me on the cheek, and whispered softly, “IT was a nice wedding”

I was out of it; from now on everything would be realistic. It was, and it was wonderful. We went on a honeymoon to Bermuda. Then it wasn’t long before I learned that I was pregnant and Peter and I bought our first home. It was a big old house and the price was right. I had hoped that when Mom gave us a gift for the house it would be a practical one, like a dinette set. But her gift, when it arrived, was a crystal penguin. I couldn’t believe that she didn’t realize how much we needed a dinette set. I wanted to return it. Peter said, “No you won’t, we’ll keep it. It’s the one beautiful thing we will have in the house besides you.” I was touched that he thought that I was beautiful even though I was eight months pregnant.

Mom called everyday Lucky for her it wasn’t long distance. I visited her regularly. Then with the arrival of the baby I didn’t have much time. We managed on Peter’s salary and I stayed home to be with my daughter. When Sandy started school, I was there as she walked through the door anxious to tell me about her day at school. I was there for my daughter.

It was the week before Christmas and life was pretty hectic. I was going over the Christmas gift list when I realized that Mom hadn’t called in a few days. I threw on my coat and boots and rushed over to her house. She was sitting in a chair in the living room, coughing and gasping for breath. All I could do was stammer, “Mother, I’m going to call the doctor.” Her color was bad and there were puffs like grey cushions under her eyes.

She gasped, “I’ll be alright. Just bring me my medicine. It’s in the top cabinet drawer.” I remembered where she kept it, poured some water into a glass for her. I held it to her lips. After a few sips she pushed the glass away. “I’m fine now,” she said, trying to reassure me. I wanted to help her pack a few things and come home with me. She said that she had things to do and would be over Christmas Eve. I stayed with her all evening and when she went to bed I covered her with the soft quilt and kissed her on the forehead. She smiled and whispered softly, “You’re a good daughter, Diana.”

I called Peter and told him I was going to stay all night with Mom. I fell asleep for a few hours on the sofa. The early sunlight coming through the window woke me. I went to check Mom. She appeared to be sleeping peacefully. I was terrified, “Don’t you dare die on me now Mom, I’m not ready.” I ran to the phone and called the doctor. After what seemed like an eternity, he finally arrived. He put his hand on my shoulder. When I touched her cheek, her body was still warm.

I wouldn’t go near Mom’s place for days after the funeral. I knew that I had to sort through her possessions. It was several weeks after the funeral when I was finally able to bring myself to go to Mom’s place. Peter went with me.

Mom was a saver. There were pictures unsorted in candy boxes from companies long out of business. Boxes she had inherited from her mother. Pens which no longer worked but rested in an old cigar box. She kept buttons, all kinds of buttons, in a lacy beaded jewelry box. Tucked away in the back of her closet was a white plastic bag. I unzipped the bag and took out her white mink. I could hear her voice, “Put it on so I could see how beautiful you look.” I never put it on for her. Where would I wear it? I glanced in the mirror at the white mink that lay lightly on my shoulders as warm and soft as a caress.

I heard Peter at the door, “Your beautiful.”

This was her original story. Mom then proceed to make changes. She crossed out, added, changed character names. I have found several different writings of different approaches to the story.  I think she was trying to create a bigger and longer story encompassing these events…    Thanks for stopping by and for reading.