My mother was special to all who knew her, and I often find myself remembering the qualities that elicited respect and affection from othes. Her ancestors were from the Pennsylvania mountains, included miners among them, and a legend of distant native american ancestry. I'd like to present a photo retrospective in honor of her.
In this first photo, which hung in our living room, I used to stare at the bundle of on her head that looked to me like wooden slats, but she would always patiently tell me it was a ribbon. My mother's face looks so sad in this photo, but I realize now there was plenty to be sad about. By now, her father had had the accident that allowed tuberculosis to set in. Her young beloved aunt had died of toxemia during her first pregnancy. And my mother's birth followed the birth and early death of a son, so her mother was grieving when Thea was young. I don't mean to single our family out in the sorrow department; not at all. Sorrows were common among those pennesylvania folk.
Here's a romantic side of her that helps to keep the 'native american' legend alive. I think she was about fourteen in this picture.
Bobbed. It's nice to see I was not alone in having a 'rebellious' youth.
Graduate of Hallahan High, Philadelphia, at seventeen. Immediately went to work supporting her parents, father ill, mother 'did housework.'
Working woman, age 20
On her way back to work.
On the beach at Atlantic City with Angelo.
Strutting her stuff, while walking downtown with her mother.
Marrying the love of her life.
With her baby
daughter growing up.
Mom would be in her fifties here. I have a few of her at work, in her sixties, but they are not very accessible at the moment so we will skip them. I always think she looks pretty stressed out during this period anyway. So we'll just move on to retirement.
her seventy-fifth birthday
visiting in southern california with her former next-door neighbor in philadelphia. she took this trip shortly after my father died.
a picture of the two of us just a year or so before she died.
I've been thinking about what I might say about my mother to praise her memory. Well, let's see, she never said anything negative about other people. She always honored her commitments and was a steadfast friend and good neighbor. She was intelligent and shrewd but she never used it against anybody. I think that was because she was not ambitious. She was one of those people who runs the whole office at the place where she worked, was never paid what she was worth, and never resented it. She loved all people, regardless of race, ethnicity or creed. She appreciated differences and was interested rather than repelled by them, and very respectful of others. She brought charm and elegance to the places where she worked, made her bosses look good, and spread a kind of magic through the atmosphere wherever she was. She was fairly religious, devout one might even say, but I really believe that she had her own religion inside herself. Maybe she was able to take what was good in her religion and run it through the dorothea-processor so that it became something beautiful, just like her.
A friend of mine and of my mother's recently said to me that she often reflects on "the mysterious beauty that she was." I find that she still guides me to uncover more of the depth of mystery, wisdom and goodness in life, if I just pay attention to her gentle leading. There seems to be no end to the richness she is guide to. What a great opportunity to have such a role model in life. Yet she was only a simple working-woman of very modest means who lived in a city of the poor, Philadelphia from nineteen-oh-six until nineteen-seventy-six. Exactly what made her who she was and is?
I knew all these things about my mother even when I was quite young, and I did express my appreciation even then. But that was nothing compared to how much I would express now, if given the chance. Maybe the best reason for becoming a parent in your twenties is that you might still be around when the kids are in their fifties, and can more fully realize how much they have to be grateful for.