Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Son Remembers His Mother

You know who would have been all-in on RG3?

You know who would have spent the last 20 years lamenting the state of her beloved Washington Redskins? Who would have hated Daniel Snyder? And done all this while remaining fiercely loyal, convinced that the corner was about to be turned?

MotherBlog, that's who.

TigerBlog can't remember another team his mother ever cared about even a little. FatherBlog grew up as one of the few New York Giants' fans in Brooklyn (baseball, that is), and he's always liked the Jets more than the Giants in football. He's a Knicks guy, and he likes both of New York's current baseball teams, though he'd pick the Yankees over the Mets.

As for hockey, he's never been all that into it. When he's had a preference, it's been for the Islanders.

MotherBlog was different.

Her interests were in other areas, especially politics, politics and more politics. And social justice. And Steve McQueen.

She liked sports, though TB wouldn't necessarily call her a huge fan. It's not like she would go out of her way to watch a game on TV or anything.
Honestly, TB isn't sure what it was that got his mother into the Washington Redskins. What he does know is that she loved her team and that Giants-Redskins was as much a point of sometimes-teasing, sometimes-funny, sometimes-knock-down-drag-out arguing with her younger son as was the other biggest hot button topic between them - Ronald Reagan.

MotherBlog was a bit nomadic, and her she lived for awhile in Chevy Chase, just across Western Ave. from being in the District of Columbia. And while her initial love of that area was probably the Mazza Gallerie shopping center on the corner, it wasn't long before she owned, among other things, a Redskins hat and a John Riggins jersey.

MotherBlog died 18 years ago today, at the young age of 55, after a fairly tough battle with cancer.

TigerBlog woke up this morning realizing that he'd lived more than 35% of his life without his mother.  His first thoughts were about what kind of 73-year-old grandmother his mother would have made.

TB received dozens of cards, maybe a few hundred, after his mother's death. He's kept one in his desk all these years, and he quotes it directly: "She was the most courageous person I ever met."

Princeton played in a men's basketball tournament at the University of Illinois on Dec. 9 and 10, 1994.

TigerBlog went to Atlanta - the last of the many places his mother lived - on the 8th and found his mother to be at home and fairly stable. From there, it was off to Champaign for the tournament.

Princeton thumped Eastern Illinois in the first round, led by 16 points from Chris Doyal, 15 points from Steve Goodrich and 12 points and six rebounds from now-head coach Mitch Henderson. Goodrich and Henderson were freshmen that year, as was a third player in double figures against Eastern Illinois, James Mastaglio, who had 11 points with nine rebounds.

The Tigers played a horrible game in the final, shooting 14 for 44 in a 59-37 loss to the Ilini with no player in double figures.

After the game, TB remembers calling his mother and hearing that she was still doing okay.

He also remembers a party after the tournament at which Illinois' then-coach, Lou Henson, chastised the head of his booster group for bothering him about Princeton's travel plans, which had gotten messed up when their flight out of Champaign the next morning was cancelled.

As for TB, his own plans meant driving to Chicago's Midway Airport, flying to Cleveland and then flying on to Newark. He called from the pay phone in Cleveland (no cell phones at that point; how did the world get by?) and got no answer at his mother's house, where both BrotherBlog and his Uncle Larry were visiting.

TB assumed that his brother and uncle had gone to lunch and that his mother was asleep. When he got to Newark, he called again and got no answer and thought something might be up.

When he got back to his own house, there were messages on the answer machine (no voicemail) saying that he needed to be in Atlanta.

Sadly, he didn't get there on time.

That was 18 years ago today.

These days, TB still has his favorite picture of his mother on his shelf in his office, as she stands in Talkeetna, Alaska, in a shortsleeve shirt with a huge snowbank behind her.

And the memory of a wonderful woman who insisted on being called by her first name, who became livid at the thought that one of her sons might try to judge anyone else's life or lifestyle, who loved to hug the stuffing out of everyone she knew, whose door was always open to anyone who needed a place to stay, who loved to shop and wear nice clothes and eat in the best restaurants - all the while surrounded by her army of friends, all of whom knew that whatever they needed from her was theirs without even a thought. 

In her life, she made it to 49 of the 50 states, missing out on only North Dakota, as she went around the country teaching/lobbying on long-term care issues related to Multiple Sclerosis. She had friends in every one of those states.

TB knows his mother left a lot of fun times, a lot of glasses of wine, a lot of fun times with people of all backgrounds and persuasions, a lot of trips any number of destinations, a lot of f-bombs and a lot of arguments with her younger son on the table, not to mention the opportunity to meet her two grandchildren.

Today, as he always does on this day, TigerBlog has a candle that burns for his mother.

She packed a lot into her 55 years.

For TigerBlog, there's been something missing every day of the 18 since.

1 comment:

CAZ said...

Simply a beautiful tribute to a beautiful person - THX!