Mom would have turned 85 today. She was the first baby born in the city of Pittsburgh, PA, in 1929, and would proudly recount how her mother beat some woman in labor down the hall by a few minutes to claim the honor. And she was, like my Dad, a remarkable person in many ways for her generation. Unlike the vast majority of women her age, she was college-educated, graduating with a Spanish Literature degree from Seton Hill College in 1950. She valued education and learning all her life. Mom was a driving force (and a hard-working partner) in encouraging my Dad to go back to school and get his HS diploma and, more importantly, and engineering degree, while a father of a new family and while holding down a full-time job.
Mom was a librarian and a teacher, instilling in me a love of books that has lasted these fifty years. She was pretty sensitive to the nightmare scenario of a son having his mother for a teacher in Junior High, and other than making me call her “Mrs. S_______” like the rest of her students, she was extremely good about it. She was a stickler for proper grammar and word usage, and (not surprisingly) language fascinated her. I would, however, give into the temptation to torture her from time to time, well into adulthood. At least once when I would come home on leave I would announce, “I am gonna go….. lay down.” Invariably, no matter where she was in the house, or what she was doing, she would yell with some consternation, “It’s LIE!!!” Dad would just shake his head.
She was not at ALL pleased when, at 16, I began to talk about joining the Marines (as my brother had), and absolutely hated that I did so. But, she always let me know she was proud of me.
Mom had a formidable intellect, and was a devotee of CSPAN from its inception. She loved to stay intellectually active, and maintained informed and cogent opinions on the topics of the day. She also had a delightful sense of humor, and a sense of the absurd, and she could make me laugh harder than any other person I ever met. When I was home on Christmas break one morning in 1984, we were watching the news and a local newscaster announced that fast-food mogul Ray Kroc was “McDead”, we were in hysterics. Dad, coming out to go to work, wondered what the hell was wrong with us.
I miss you, Mom. Happy birthday.