Things lately

IT’S BEEN HARD RECENTLY to know what to write here. I’ve started a few posts, but nothing felt like it was coming together. Today, however, is the Winter Solstice, and as we noted in our eulogy, nobody anticipated the Solstice with more eagerness than our mom. Her fervent hatred of cold weather was unparalleled. And, while the Solstice marks the first day of winter, her glee was directed toward fact that from here on out, we get a few more minutes of daylight, and therefore less darkness with each passing day.

She hated darkness, too.

I was browsing through a batch of old photos that Mom had converted from slides – a real treasure trove of photos from back in the day. Many of them are overexposed and most are not particularly well composed (no one has ever accused anyone in my family of having above-average photographic skills), but some of them are gems. Like this one:

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She hated snow with unmatched zeal, but not even Young Rosemary could resist measuring the new-fallen snow with a yardstick and grinning for the camera.

I shared this one on Facebook because, well, Winter. And Snow. And, Mom. It’s a fun photo I hadn’t seen before – those slides languished in boxes for decades until she finally had them converted to digital images a few years ago. But after I posted it, I found myself frowning back at her smiling face wondering and why she had to leave us so soon. I mean, she was only 78. In the year 2018, why couldn’t Modern Medicine fix her?

And then I got angry at her.

How dare you not be available to commiserate with me when my Thanksgiving gravy was too salty!

How dare you leave me the tedious, time-consuming task of settling your estate!

How dare you leave us all of these boxes of STUFF to go through, leaving us to make decisions that you didn’t want to!

How dare you leave me to make decisions about investments and required distributions and other financial concerns that have to be dealt with!

How dare you not be here for me to call and share the excitement of the holidays!

How dare you succumb to your illness!

How dare you!

It’s been almost five months, and at times it still doesn’t seem real. Will it ever? To the end of her days, my mom remained wistful for her own mother, who died in 1992, and for her mother-in-law, who passed in 2005. Maybe it never gets better.

But if there’s one thing Mom would not want, it’s for me to pout. She’d probably clear her throat in that way she did when she wanted you to know she was being serious, call me Margaret Ellen, and remind me that she trained me to be a “steel magnolia.” After our dad died, leaving her a widow at age 42 with two young daughters, people would remark about how strong she was. “What choice do I have?” she would reply, with a shrug. “The rest of us are still here; life must go on.”

I allow myself to have these moments, because grief is a process, but then I take a deep breath and carry on. After all, I have much to be joyful about, always, but especially this time of year. And even though my first Christmas in a lovely new home** with Steve is offset by the first Christmas without my mom, it’s that first part I’m trying to hold onto.

So: Christmas is four days away, and I still have to bake the sand tarts. Mom didn’t bake a lot, but these were her specialty and if you ask me, it isn’t Christmas without ’em. The dough is made; I just need to roll / cut / bake. And while of course they made me think of her in the past, this year I’ll be summoning Mom’s spirit more than usual. “They’re too much work,” she said of these cookies in her later years. “Someone else can make them now.”

Challenge accepted, Mom. I’m on it.

 

**Did I tell you, we moved? Still in the same neighborhood, much nicer digs. I wish my Mom could see it – she’d approve.

 

Don’t forget to pack your sauce

tuckaway fifth

I found this ad in the July 28, 1967 issue of Life Magazine. It tickled me because – check it out – Mister Big Biznessman’s goin’ on a trip and his white-gloved honey has made sure she tucked a li’l fifth of his favorite bourbon right into his suitcase, right there next to the white shirts she so lovingly ironed (how many times must I tell you, light starch, honey – dammit, you know it makes my neck itch!).

Ya think he managed to get that by TSA in the hopes of gate-checking his bag so he could avoid the whole baggage claim circus on the far side? Did he seal it in a single, quart-sized Ziploc bag?

OH WAIT – this was the 1960s, a time when liquids in large containers could be carried willy-nilly throughout the airport. A time when flight attendants were called stewardesses and they had strict upper limits on their weight  and age… when tickets were paper – not E – and full, hot meals were served on real plates with real forks and real knives… and suitcases didn’t yet have wheels, and a fella could keep his shoes and belt ON and his party could meet him right there at the gate instead of outside the secure zone…

…it was a time when a man was a MAN and by golly, he packed his very own Tuckaway Fifth on every business trip.

Wanna flya Cessna?

In one of thousands  hundreds  dozens  several boxes of mementos from my youth, currently taking up entire rooms in my basement, I found two magazines from the week I was born in the Mesozoic Era  Renaissance  Roaring Twenties late sixties.  My Grandma Sara was an R.N. in a doctor’s office and she thoughtfully swiped their copies of Life and Look for my parents to stash away on my behalf. I don’t think I knew I had them until one of our recent moves.

Last night I was looking through the Life Magazine from July 28, 1967, and came upon this ad that included a helpful, cents-off coupon. I don’t know if it’s worth trying to cash it in today, but in any case, check it out:

wanna flya cessna

AWESOME! Slip a licensed instructor a fin and you, too, can jet above your post-industrial city!  What? You don’t have your ID with you? Oh, that’s OK, bring it tomorrow.  We trust you.

C’mon, you know you wanna – all the cool kids are doin’ it.

Lest you should think I ripped this idea off from the pages of The Glamorous Life Association’s AdTalk series, please know this: I think of it more as “inspiration” – and, I cleared it with Marcy ahead of time.  In fact, if you think this one’s good, you should pop on over to view the ads she’s posted. Hilarious stuff!

BTW, I have another one from the same mag that will be coming your way  later this week. Priceless stuff, this.