My discovery, earlier this week, of a whole new branch of my mother's family is driving me to get this page started,at the very least. So....here it goes!
|With Dad on their wedding day|
My mother's name is Carol Joy, and she was born in Regina Saskatchewan in January 1943, which makes her 68 years old at the time of writing this "biography" of sorts. She is the eldest of three, and the only daughter. But none of this describes who she was, as a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother or just as a person.
|With me on my first birthday|
As Sara said the other night, "everyone loved Bubbie", and she was right. She was beautiful and charming, with a social grace that even Alzheimer's cannot overtake. She is the most kind, polite and warm person, so atypical of Alzheimer's patients, offering a smile and pleasant hello to all who greet her.
She loved the piano. From the time she was a little girl, she used to come home from school for lunch every day, quickly eat the sandwich her mother had prepared for her, and then sit down at the piano, with Bubbie Lou, to practice her scales and songs. I can still see her parents' piano, and if I try hard enough, I can envision her sitting with Bubbie Lou and playing. This passion stayed with Mom throughout her life. She loved to play, and like her granddaughter, my Becca, there was a direct connection between her fingers and her heart. I can remember the electrifying excitement that charged through our home when she and Dad bought our piano, and how she would put us down to bed as children, and then go to practice Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata almost every night...it became our lullaby, and my all-time favourite composition. You can image how overwhelming it was when Becca sat at my mother's piano, which is now ours, and started to run her long fingers over the keys and, no word of a lie, started playing one hand of Moonlight Sonata - never having heard it played before. That was almost 2 years ago, and she is still working hard to learn the song - it is about 4 grades above her grade 6 level of study - but she is determined to learn it, struggling to read my mother's sheet music. When Moonlight Sonata would frustrate her, Mom would switch to Chopin...her fingers always lulling me to sleep with sweet and soothing music. One of the first things she checked when each of our daughters was born was their fingers - and she was so pleased to see that they had long, slender fingers (like hers and her mother's before her) - "perfect for playing the piano one day". As soon as our daughters were old enough to sit up on their own, Mom had them at the piano, teaching them where middle C was...is it any wonder they both love the piano and play so well? Since Mom has moved into long-term care, we try to take her to the sun room where the grand piano sits. Becca and Sara play for her and the other residents, putting on impromptu concerts. Becca and I took Mom downstairs to the piano on one of our more recent visits...when she heard Moonlight Sonata her eyes widened and she exictedly told me "that's mine!".
She was a wonderful cook, baker and hostess - "The Hostess with the Mostest" - and our house was always full of guests. She never seemed to mind drop in visitors, or dinner guests, and there was always lots of extra food ready to serve. So many of my memories centre on food, meals and entertaining. What is more surprising to me is how many people have written me since I started this blog, recounting their own memories of my mother's dinner parties and specialty dishes. I never realized how many people she nurtured or how many lives she touched. I am saving these memories and recollections for specific recipes, but they're coming. I am the mom now, and I love to have the kids' friends over, and true to my Jewish mother status, I always want to feed them. Sara told me how her friend told her that she (Sara) smelled like our house. When Sara asked what that meant, she said "yummy and sweet, like baking". It is one of the things I am most proud of, and I definitely get that from Mom.
|With Sara (2000)|
Patient, kind and forgiving...my mother was so patient...unnervingly so. Sure, we drove her nuts when we were little - she was a harried young mother and we were her "Thing One and Thing Two" - I was "Thing One", by the way. But as we grew, so did she, and she was always there, ready and willing to listen, support, nurture and guide us when we needed it. She was resilient and took all that we threw at her during our tumultuous teens in stride, readily accepting our humble apologies with open arms ready for a hug.
|With my kids (2001)|
Happy and joyful (just like her name)...I remember a lot of laughter, especially when she would talk with her mom...ok - let's just adjust one memory...every night Dad would come home for dinner and a proper visit with the kids, then go back to the office to finish working...oh, the trials and tribulations of a young lawyer and dedicated father - and after my mother would put us to bed she would do one of 2 things...either play the piano, or call her mother in Regina for a good long chat. If I close my eyes and let my mind wander back, I can still see the pink light beneath my eyelids, and hear my mother's hearty laughter coming from her bedroom, which was directly across the hall from mine, as I fell asleep. She adored her mother and treasured their talks. As I share this memory with you, I realize that this is one of the experiences I always expected I would share with my mom (minus the long distance bills), and one which Alzheimer's robbed me of. So, instead, I talk to her in my mind, and tell her of my day, ask her the questions I wish she could answer. Often I hear her voice, with the answers already given years before, and realize that she is still guiding me. Many times throughout my day I experience something and think "I need to tell Mom that", only to realize that is no longer an option.
|At David's Wedding (2005)|
That is the essence of Carol Joy - my Joychee. Her mother used to call her that, and when she died, I picked it up and made it my own special name for her. I hope that you enjoyed this glimpse into who my mother was, I know I enjoyed sharing it with you!
|Mom with my kids (2010)|
|Mom today (2012)|