Friday, November 11, 2011

A generation passes

Above: I shot this in March 2007 at the assisted living place in Palm Bay, FL where I'd moved my Ma to in January 2005 after she could no longer safely stay in the house just a couple of miles away, where they'd retired in 1973. In July I moved her to Vegas (I'd moved my late Dad in May that year; he had serious dementia and was already in nursing home care since the fall of 2001).

Below: she managed to clutter up that apartment pretty quick. That ugly roll-out bed couch was my swell recurrent Delta red-eye bunk 'til I moved her and Pop to Vegas.

My Dad came home from the war in Europe (minus a leg) and married my Mom in August 20th, 1944. I was then born in February 1946. Pop died in May 2008. I will miss them both greatly. They were loyal to each other and loyal to me and my sister and all the grandkids.

I owe everything to them.

Above, circa 1974 or so. Below, Mother on her 88th birthday, January 18th, 2010. We took her to Olive Garden in Henderson, "Awlive Gawdin," as she put it in her finest Long Island accent.

That was her last marginally decent year. Below, Mom and Dad visiting at the nursing home where he resided in Melbourne FL prior to my bringing them both to Vegas.

A good, long run, both of them.

UPDATE

We had a celebratory supper Sunday evening at the Olive Garden in Henderson where we'd last taken Ma, for her 88th birthday. My sister Carole read for us a reflection she'd composed.
Marion Elizabeth (Dittus) Gladd,
January 18, 1922 - November 10, 2011

How do you describe the life of your mother when you don’t pay attention to the details while you are a child and it’s all about yourself and not about the person who chose to bring you into this world? After having 5 children, I realized what my mom must’ve gone through raising two children. And she (and my dad) did a pretty decent job when you read about what goes on in families nowadays. I often think -- how did they manage to raise two children who generally are compassionate and reasoned people? It must’ve been their lifelong concern for us and our families. Selfishness was not part of their character when it came to their kids.

My first recollection of my mom was in Morristown, New Jersey (George Washington’s stomping grounds!). I remember her taking me to a birthday party -- I remember being shy and not wanting to go but I didn’t have a choice. I remember kindergarten and her leaving me there and I remember being scared. Never gave one thought to the fact that she was now alone, both children in school. I wonder what that was like for her.

My next recollection was our “farmhouse” in Hanover, New Jersey. What a wonderful home that was -- a big old home, with a wrap-around front porch and a walk-around attic to die for. Interestingly enough, years later as an adult, I was talking to my mom about that house and she said that she hated that house. Once again, what she must’ve given up so Bobby and I could have this interesting outdoors experience -- I think Bobby even built a log cabin in the woods and I remember scooping up frog eggs in this jellylike glob form from the pond in the woods next to our home. And that was the house where I got my first “cat” addiction—our landlord, Mrs. Weber, gave me a cute little black and white kitten and the same day she ran over it with her car! No pets after that one! That’s why I’ve been making up for it ever since -- in fact, Bobby has a bigger zoo than me.

The next move was to Hillsborough right before I started 4th grade. We moved into a brand new development with the ranch homes and the split-level homes. Already, you knew the people who had split-levels had to have more money -- or that’s how I perceived it. My mom was the typical 50-60’s stay-at-home mom. Little did I know what a gift she gave to me. She made my lunches, she was always there when I got home from school, and I always had a very well balanced meal with the dreaded green vegetables. My mom was a great cook -- and I mean great when I compare it to my paltry cooking skills. And I hated to eat--I didn’t like anything -- I know it’s hard to believe when now there isn’t much I dislike. And both my parents were adamant that we clean our plates. And Bobby always got away with murder at the dinner table—pushing his mashed potatoes out of his mouth to make me laugh -- which I did -- and which I got punished for.

My parents somehow got across to Bobby and I that you don’t get a free ride and you take care of yourself and be kind to others. It was expected that we do well in school. I know I feared both my parents -- but I can’t really remember getting disciplined except for the occasional swat on the behind with the rolled up newspaper -- and that was dad. I don’t remember Mom ever physically disciplining me -- but I knew when I disappointed her and that was enough punishment. Now it’s coming back to me -- mom was not happy when I said “shit” -- which is minor to what I’ve said in front of my kids. And mom never liked me calling her “Ma”. I guess it was considered slang, and not proper.

Growing up, I thought my mom and dad were too strict and too “proper.” I remember having to go to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Somerville, New Jersey; Dad never had to go -- and I used to wonder, why did I have to go and he doesn’t? But I never really questioned or fought the idea -- I just obeyed. And mom made sure I had all the fixings for church--dresses and white gloves. And the dreaded hats at Easter!

I always wished my parents had done more fun things with my friend’s parents. Their houses were the fun houses. They had pools -- I wanted one in our back yard—but, no, couldn’t have one because of liability. Something I didn’t understand until I had children of my own. But I spent a lot of time at my friends’ homes. But here’s the kick -- while I was enjoying my free time at their houses away from my “strict” home, their families were falling apart. Little did I know at that time, that what I perceived as “being too strict” was that they were giving me security -- actually life long security.

And then I went off to Bowling Green, Ohio, for college. Once again, it never occurred to me the loss for my mom -- having both her children, who she devoted her life to, moving so far away. And then Dad retired and made the decision to move the both of them to hot and humid Florida. And then my mom rose up out of her compliant 50’s mode, and started speaking up for herself. A lot of fights ensued between the “happy couple” but they miraculously persevered as a couple to become the most unselfish grandparents on the planet.

Mom never gave me raising children advice. I remember when we had our first child David in 1975. And Tony and I knew nothing about raising babies. And mom was just as puzzled as us -- never made me feel guilty if I used a pacifier or picked David up whenever he cried. That was the first time I felt closer to my mom.

My parents never missed one of my children’s birthdays, Christmases, Easter or the first day of school. There was always a check in the mail or a box filled with gummy worms, little Debbies, and all sorts of treats and clothes -- and it really helped us financially since I too was a stay at home mom. I remember in 1989 when April got so deathly ill and Tony had to drive with 4 kids to Ann Arbor. The brakes went on the car and Mom and Dad stepped up to the plate and gave us $2,000 for the repairs (must’ve been a few other things wrong with the bomb!).

I know my mom was the moving force when it came to helping Tony and I. They came for every event in our lives too -- when Tony graduated, when he got his Master’s, when the kids were born, and finally for high school graduations. They always made the effort even if their visits sometimes drove me crazy.

Regardless of all the pain my mom endured in her life, she somehow managed to carve out good lives for Bobby and I -- we wouldn’t be the people we are and we wouldn’t have the loving families we have if it hadn’t been for her love from the first moment we were born. She did a good job and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for what she gave unselfishly to my family and I.

I will miss her silliness, her friendliness, her jokes and her patience. I will never forget the “digitized” TV, the trips to Patrick Air Force Base, the walks on the Officers Club boardwalk, the endless restaurants such as Friendly’s—you know, the one who banished my mom!!! And I remember my mom’s meatloaf -- a recipe I have from her--that I will make when I get home in her honor. Nathan will wonder what is wrong with his mom -- “she’s cooking a meal—really?”

Well, mom, you obviously gave me the gift of gab, so until I see you again—I love you.

Your daughter, Carole Elaine

Wow.

SUNDAY, NOV 20th

They Married in August 1944. Pop died in May 2008, my Ma ten days ago. Feeling rather sad today. Got my Mother's ashes Friday. I just shot that out on my driveway, on a piece of wood on my sawhorses. Good light today with the overcast.

The little blue and red thing beneath this photo arrangement is my "blankee" -- one of the few surviving physical artifacts from my young childhood.

1 comment:

Kevin J. said...

A fitting memorial Bobby! A fine family...and by the way...Thank God for your Dad's generation and all of thier sacrifices!