I was fortunate to have had strong women in my life, both my grandmothers, fraternal and maternal and my crabby old greatgrandma. Nanny lost her husband as a child-bride and raised her daughters on her own at a time when women didn't do that, she did and it's no wonder she was kind of crabby!
My Mom graduated from high school in 1942 and married my Dad. She was a good student, athlete and actress. Oh god, was Mom dramatic when she wanted to be! She could have and wanted to go to college, but it was WW2, she loved my Dad and wanted to marry him, so she did. It was the first of many, many acts of sacrifice she would perform during her life. Mom was a good looking woman, I always thought she was a Katherine Hepburn type, tall, thin and (again) dramatic and had classic good taste and style. Like so many young women during the war, she and two of my dad's fellow pilot trainees wives followed their young husbands from training base to training base. Mom lived close to Dad in Texas and North Carolina. The girls became life- long friends and when they got together they had an incredible amount of fun.
When Dad had his first heart attack at 37, it scared the hell out of her, but she carried him and all of us until he recovered. Dad was frustrated, angry and in pain for the next 20 years. Mom bore the brunt of it and I never knew until years later how hard it was for her and how many issues she had with Dad. My Mother was widowed at 54 and never remarried. She was, until she died, madly in love with Dad. I can only guess when they met again in the great cosmos, he got a big hug, kiss, a kick in the ass and a piece of her mind. And then many, many kisses.
Mom was a reader and she made sure I was. In later years I'd read a book, send it to her and we'd discuss it over the phone. A two person book club.
When I was single and living in Boston I'd fly Mom out for a week and she would immerse herself in the culture and energy of the city. My friends all thought she was great and it was fun to have the old girl around. During one visit, I woke up at 3am and found my mother sitting in the living room wide awake. I asked if anything was wrong, she said "no, I just can't sleep." She had spent the afternoon at Caffe Royale, sitting outside reading and had consumed 9 cups of "that wonderful coffee that comes in the little cups." Her eyes looked like pinwheels! Later Jan and I took her sailing and for a woman who always said "I don't like boats" she sure seemed happy. We'd sail for an hour or so and then Mom would go below and take a nap on the "low side". Sailing agreed with her.
Mom was an alcoholic and the thing I may proudest of is that she whipped it.
Mom died 5 years ago surrounded by her sons, daughters, sister, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
A day doesn't go by that I don't miss her.