Whom do you think of when someone says, “Name a rock star?” Most likely our generation would think of Elvis, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, etc. For me, though, my mom was a rock star!
She’d be the first to poo-poo that idea! There was nothing about her that made her stand out in a crowd. She was short, with average brown hair, never skinny and introverted. She was quiet and never one to make waves. She didn’t make a significant impact on the greater world, except in her world of her family and friends.
Mom was loyal to her husband, my dad, for over 50 years. She created a loving home but was never overly demonstrative. I don’t recall endless hugs and kisses on boo-boos. But, she’d sit there in the bathroom with me while I spent many a night throwing up. Isn’t that love and devotion?
Mom excelled at many things in her very quiet and unassuming way. For instance, she had a mechanical mind. She probably could have been an engineer. Who ever heard of women engineers when she was growing up? She could look at a set of plans and figure them out, using the right tools the first time. She could fix things other people would throw out. I remember her tinkering with wristwatches, an electric can opener, the HVAC vents in our house, among other items. It was she who patiently guided my dad through the “do-it-yourself” plans of the swing set they bought for my son when he was two.
Second, Mom was artistic and creative. She was a whiz on her Singer sewing machine, whether it was making curtains for the house or sewing clothes for her daughters and granddaughters. She embroidered tablecloths, knitted endless baby sweaters for the new moms in our synagogue, sewed Barbie clothes for Midge (Barbie’s best friend) and of course, did needlepoint. One of my favorite pieces is the red and gold atara she needlepointed for my dad’s tallis (prayer shawl). It has been passed down to my son, Eli, who is so honored to have this piece of art created by his grandmother.
In her 60s, Mom decided to expand her artistic repertoire by taking up oil painting and furniture upholstery. One of her projects was to reupholster the dining room chairs. And she was creative. She and Dad belonged to a group of friends who often put together silly and funny skits. She cleverly wrote many of them, including a humorous 70th birthday party for my dad and their over-the-top 50th wedding anniversary celebration. People still talk about that party!
I can’t say Mom was an excellent cook. She did okay in that area, but she had her specialties. One of them was her cheese blintzes. They came out perfect every time. Though I have the recipe and mine taste good, hers never fell apart and always got crisp on the outside. She had blintz making down to a science.
The same can be said about her apple pie. There was no particular secret recipe; it came from the label on the Crisco can. The crust was always flaky, the bottom not soggy, the dough crimped like a professional. That pie just melted in your mouth with the perfect tart apples and the correct amount of sugar and cinnamon. She also made a mean, fudgy chocolate cake (special for my birthday) and kept delicious homemade brownies in the freezer for snacking. And she held her own with potato latkes, brisket, corn flake crumb chicken and roasted turkey. While she wasn’t a gourmet cook, we sure didn’t starve!
So, as Older Americans Month and Mother’s Day come around, it only seems right to salute the rock star in my life: Mom. We love you, Mom, and miss you. Rock on!
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