Although this is the largest house I have lived in, (not including a basement) it has very little space for keeping things that are not in use… (read as storage). In an effort to find a bit more space, I have been going through some boxes that mostly contain paper. I have carted these boxes around… for many years, since 1997. As long as I had the room too keep them, not an issue, but lets face it, how long does one need to keep bank statements? bills? tax returns for someone that is deceased? So I was able to discard or shred several boxes worth.
My mom was an amazingly strong, gifted and talented person. She could cook. I mean really cook. While growing up in Sonoma County California my friends were eating meatloaf, macaroni and cheese or pork chops for dinner. We were eating the things that Julia Child was making on PBS -veal parmigiana or cheese fondue or bacon wrapped tenderloin, sweet breads, cow tongue, string bean almandine, wilted spinach salad, asparagus, artichokes, crepes, Danish Pastries, home made breads- the lists go on and on. As soon as I could reach the cutting board and the stove controls, I was cooking too. While I can cook, I don’t cook with the same ease she did.
She could draw, sketch and paint too. I didn’t receive any of that particular talent… not even slightly. When we were young, and she was a stay at home mom, for pocket money, she would make posters…. hand lettered- for the college, theater, etc. I remember her doing those… In one of the boxes I found her books on lettering. I have a couple of her watercolor from 1968 framed and hanging in my upstairs hall.
She could also play the piano, not a virtuoso …. but she could read music play a bit. When we were kids, she would play Schubert, but we would just call it the ‘Charlie Brown song’. Me, again talent wise, not even slightly….. she tried to teach me piano, but I have a tin ear and no rhythm.
She could sew too. Her sewing skills were top notch, and when I was young she made many of our clothes (she made tailored suits for herself and little dresses and blouses for the girls, and pants and shirts for my brother) up until I was about 12, when one year she asked me if I liked this, this and this at the fabric store… and when I was expecting “I’ll start on these next week'” I heard “Good, you’d better get started on these now for school”. I liked homemade clothes as long as mom was making them…. not when I had to make them. I was her early assistant though… helping her pin, set tailors tacks and cut out patterns as soon as I could hold the implement. I think embroidery was what she liked to do the most!!! She made some amazing items to showcase her embroidery skills. Many of her handmade items have been published or featured in shows. She also had an extraordinary eye for color.
She was also an author, she wrote “What Color is Your Aura” , a minister, a public speaker and conducted seminars for personal enrichment. She was gifted! She was passionate!
My mom seemed to me to be fearless. She went back to school in 1965 (Sonoma State College) to become a teacher, (our family had fallen apart and she needed to support herself and 3 kids, 8, 7 and 4 years old) and got a Teaching Credential with a double Masters in History and English (photo is from her first teaching job in Marin County, CA around 1969). In 1993 she packed up the things she wanted to keep, put them in a 20 x 20 self storage locker packed as full as it could be, sold off the rest and moved to Germany to live and work. When she left for Germany, she did not speak German or really have much of a plan. She had a laptop, a sponsor and the desire to LIVE abroad; and that was about all. Sadly, her adventure only lasted 3 years. She did well enough to have her own apartment, car and business and she loved it!!!
What brings me to this post is that I found a binder in the boxes of papers, that came back from Germany, that had all the email we, (she, my sister & her 6 kids, my DH and myself) sent back and forth for about a year. This was during Windows 3, when you still had to dial into your service provider (CompuServe) and at that time, 28.8 baud rate was the bestest!!! I know because it was discussed in an email, around Christmas 1995. It has been so fun to read about an entire year in our lives; the trials, tribulations, major and minor issues and fun we shared through the email. We shared so many more details about our lives because we did not have write in longhand or wait for the postman to deliver and we could respond immediately. So many things in these email messages I had totally forgotten about, from seemingly insignificant (now) to some major monstrous upheavals, mostly stateside! Stories about the people she met and the travels she did while away, for work and for pleasure, and her visitors too. I am very glad that this binder remained hidden and unknown, because I don’t think I could have read some of this before now.
This marks the 17 year since this week since she passed. Reading through this binder and the other materials in the boxes remind me that I really miss her. I plan to share more about my mom here, some of her works of art and some of her “momism’s” that make me smile when I think of them.