On January 2, 2015, Mom turns 90. She is treating her family to a Caribbean cruise in honor of the momentous event.
Fifteen family members boarded an NCL mega-ship on December 28th at the Port of Miami. For seven days her family will enjoy (or at least tolerate) each other's company, the kids will have a lifetime of memories, and Mom will revel in and be entertained by her family.
Mom is in excellent health for any age. She drives and lives independently. A few years ago she sold her home and moved into a seniors-only apartment house close to friends and activities. She leads a busy schedule of club meetings, lunch and dinner engagements, visiting housebound friends, movies, concerts and shows. Unfortunately her circle dwindles relentlessly as peers die or move into assisted living and nursing homes. She visits those close by, but loses their companionship for many activities.
My sister and I wanted her to move closer to one of us when she sold her home, but she was concerned about not having enough to do, losing connections cultivated over decades.
Mom was an only child and grew up during the Depression. Grandpa owned a retail store in Cedarhurst, Queens NY, and the family lived above the store. There was enough money for food and the necessities of life, but Mom was not a spoiled kid. Her Depression upbringing shaped certain practices. For example for decades she only shopped sales, the idea of paying full retail price unthinkable. Sharing – especially restaurant meals – is desired, and slipping extra packets of sugar, and then Sweet and Low, in her pocketbook part of the joy of eating out.
Education was important to Grandpa, and Mom attended college. She and Dad met on a blind date, married in 1947, and moved to the Long Island suburbs in 1952 with their two little girls.
Mom did not particularly like to cook (or clean). I remember meat loaf (with veggies hidden in the mix because I would not eat them any other way), pot roast, spaghetti and meatballs, and lasagna. Hearty, delicious comfort food. She still stocks shelves with canned and packaged foods, but a lot of lunches and dinners nowadays are leftovers carried home from restaurant meals.
Mom loves Sticky buns, bakery made, of course.
We went camping as a family. Once, I believe. A thunderstorm drenched the campgrounds and everything in it. Mom hated tent living and the outdoor life.
The back of her car contained a box of coupons arranged alphabetically. Sale items were purchased in bulk and stored in the basement. The box remains, updated regularly, on the back seat of her car.
Dad commuted to the city while Mom remained home, but that did not last long. Mom went to work when my sister and I were very young. She returned to school and earned a library science degree, working for decades as an elementary school librarian. She always loved books and is still an avid reader and word puzzle afficioinado.
Mom was interested in new technology, and attempted to keep up with the latest innovations (a losing battle). She installed computers in her school library and taught kids computer basics.
Although not normally on the cutting edge of fashion (or any other new fad), Mom was the first female teacher in her school to wear pants, a liberating experience quickly followed by the rest of the women on the staff.
My sister and I left for college and finally graduated, lifting a financial burden off my parents’ shoulders. They began traveling and participating in a variety of organizations and activities. Mom spent time typing committee meeting minutes, participating in scholarship review committees, reading to the blind...she and Dad rode bikes regularly a few miles to a McDonald’s for fun and exercise…she still gets down on the floor to play with the great grandkids…
When Mom broke her foot, she did not cancel a planned trip to England. The only place her broken limb deterred her sightseeing was at The Tower of London. She could not climb the stairs.
She and Dad enjoyed the grandkids, taking them (not all at once!) every summer for a week or two of non-stop fun. They took them on trips around the country and overseas.
And there were other family trips. Hawaii, a family trip celebrating Mom and Dad's fiftieth wedding anniversary, paid for but not actually experienced by Mom and Dad. Dad was in the hospital recuperating from gall bladder surgery and could not fly. Mom remained home with him, but they insisted the rest of the family go to Hawaii. We did.
There was a family cruise to Bermuda...a weekend at a hotel in the Catskill Mountains...a couple of trips to Las Vegas (Dad loved to play blackjack and Mom hit the nickel poker slot machines)…now a holiday cruise.
And the family grows. Four great grandkids are part of Mom’s birthday celebration cruise entourage.
Happy 90th Mom
We love you!