From Sunday’s memorial at Rose Hills:
Mom wasn’t always with us but she was always there.
When Greg and I became obsessed with comic books in second grade, she and other moms would take us to shops and then drove us all the way to the San Diego Comic-Con every year. I think Mom enabled us because she was such a voracious reader herself–even though thick, hardcover fiction was her thing.
When Dad, Greg, and I got “the fever” and started heading to Mammoth regularly, she came along but preferred to hang out with Angelyn in a cabin while we were on the slopes. When Ang was old enough to join us, Mom just encouraged us to go up while she stayed home and read in peace–until there were grandchildren and her services were required once more.
Dad is the one I go to concerts with, but I distinctly remember that when Greg and I graduated from junior high, it was Mom who said, “You’re probably old enough to want records” and went on to buy us $100 worth of LPs. As we dove off the edge into punk and DIY culture, I wonder if she ever regretted that?
Of course she never discouraged me when I went to UCLA to get an English major, which many would call frivolous but I have gone on to use every day. Like right now.
After a 10-year run in educational publishing and a couple of dot-com stints, I devoted myself to working on an independent magazine in a garage for a more humble but creative living, Mom never really got what we were trying to do, but she always read my articles, saved clippings, and attended our events.
When the publication ran its course and I was between gigs, Mom said that Wendy could only pursue her corporate career and bring home the bacon because I was at home with Eloise and helping out at preschool. I don’t know if that was true, but I appreciated it.
After Lucia was born, Mom set in motion her plan to move back to L.A. with Dad to help Ang and Carlos. Not long afterward, Wendy and I had Eloise and, with my new work-at-home situation, I began spending multiple days a week and having dinner at Mom and Dad’s house with the intent of helping out with the girls. An unintentional benefit was reacquainting myself with Mom–this time as parent and grandparent.
Mom and I talked a lot about parenthood, cultivating Eloise’s confidence and curiosity, and the importance of family. I consider myself lucky to have begun spending so much time with Mom before she was diagnosed with cancer as well as after.
We got Mom to do some fun stuff with us. After she missed our first family trip to the Magic Castle to babysit, we set up a second visit just so she could go. Mom tagged along to attend concerts by Aretha Franklin, James Brown, The Stones, and The Who, and later said that she wanted to see “The U2” after seeing Bono on Oprah and specified that she wasn’t going to stay home with the girls when Paul McCartney played Dodger Stadium. For years, she had talked about wanting to go to Vancouver, and we organized a trip with her and Dad almost exactly one year ago.
The last three-and-a-half years were not easy for Mom, but between treatments she carried on as best as she could. She still took care of the grandkids, ran errands, and prepared meals, retiring to her room when she had to. This winter she told Dad that she wanted to go to Mammoth and it turned out to be our last family trip with Greg’s family, Angelyn’s family, us, and Mom and Dad.
Eloise and her cousins really benefited from Mom’s extra years of battling cancer and being loved by her, taught by her, and encouraged by her–gaining extra impressions of Mom that will last a lifetime. And so did I.