My Mom passed away last week, at the age of 82, and these words are adapted from the tribute I read at her service. This trip down memory lane is a happy one for me, and I hope it will make you smile too.
When I think of Mother, three words come to mind: music, purple, and books.
Let’s start with music:
I have vivid memories of Mother playing Elvis and Broadway tunes on her red Victrola when we lived in NYC. We even played those old 78s of children’s songs like How Much is that Doggy in the Window and records that told stories of Mighty Mouse and Chicken Little. When we moved to Georgia and got a stereo, she played music from the 40s, 50s and 60s, so we grew up with Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and others. Frank was the all time favorite, and I think my sister Lisa and I love him as much as Mom did. Mom, however, was the only one of us who had a decent voice and could truly sing and dance!
Mom especially requested Frank and Elvis be played at her funeral as well the song I’m Yours by Glen Cornell. After Daddy and Mother danced to that song the first time, Daddy always signed his cards “I’m yours.”
We all watched Elvis’s Hawaii special the night it premiered, and it must have made quite the impression on my sister Pamela, as she has the video collection of the Elvis concerts. Mom was always right there with us listening to the latest rock and roll. When we got a car with an eight-track player, the tapes in the car were of her choosing: The Lovin' Spoonful, Neil Diamond, Tom Jones and such.
Later on, she learned to play the music channels on cable and always had to have a CD player in her home. I too always have music on, and I’m pretty sure I inherited that trait from Mom.
Next is the color purple:
Purple was Mother’s favorite color. She had clothes in every shade of purple—lavender, lilac, deep purple--you name it. She had purple jackets, purple sweaters, purple blouses, nightgowns and even pocketbooks. We three daughters gave her an amethyst necklace for her 70th birthday and she was tickled pink—not purple. That love of purple made my assigned role as fashion consultant pretty easy. Mother loved to shop and always wanted to be fashionable, and if you could find the latest fashion in purple, you had it made.
Finally I think of books:
Mother was the one who listened to me read my Dick and Jane books aloud, and she was the one who read the Golden Books to me. In NYC, we walked everywhere, and it was a big treat to pick up a Golden Book at the small local grocer. When I wasn’t bringing books home from the school library, Mom was taking me to the public library to pick out books I could read or she could read to me—I’m not sure how, since she didn’t drive back then. I was recently reminiscing about my childhood book collection, all given to me by Mother and Daddy. Of course, we girls all know Daddy never actually picked out a gift in his life, except for those he gave Mother, so really the books were from Mom. Dr. Seuss, The Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew all came from Mom.
Later in life, I shared books with both Mother and Daddy, and after Daddy passed away, Mother and I kept on: --Sue Grafton, the Spenser books, we loved them all. I had to laugh, though, when Pamela gave Mom a kindle and Mom turned up her nose at “real” books. She just always said, “I don’t need that book, Kathy Jean; I can get it on my Kindle.”
I’d like to close by thanking Mother for always being interested in my career, and for making it clear how proud she was of my accomplishments at Bank of America. Yes for a while, we actually worked for the same company, as we both started at C&S Bank which went on to get bigger and bigger and change names. She always wanted to hear what was going on with work, which boss was great, which was a pain, what meeting I was working on, you name it. She often said she wished Daddy could have been around to see me move up the ladder, and I told her that I still talked to Daddy and he knew.
Here’s what I know: we three girls had loving parents who were proud of our accomplishments…and I’m sure I’ll be talking to them both for many years to come.