Never ready for this.
Our family was on track to have a nice Christmas holiday this year. Gifts were bought, wrapped and under the tree or sent in the mail. My husband had another of his great menus planned. There was a Contra dance on Christmas Eve that we were looking forward to going to.
I’ve also been looking forward to taking my mother on a cruise to Mexico in April; just she and I. She went on her first cruise ever in Sept of ’06 with us. I was teaching, as it was a knitting cruise to Alaska.
My husband spent much of his time on that cruise looking after Mom which she just LOVED as she thought him one of the most handsome, wonderful men she’s ever met. She had the time of her life. She enjoyed her favorite things; lots of live music, great food and feeding the slot machines every night after dinner. I think she’s talked about it every day since then.
I was getting excited about spending some too rare one-on-one time with her as well as going on a non-work related honest-to-God vacation. The plan was to go by ourselves; just ten days to hang out with my mom, do a little shopping, get massages and facials on board and live the good life. It doesn’t get much better than that.
So a day or two before Christmas I called her to get some of her info to give the travel agent. I needed her exact name as appears on her passport and some other info, which she gave me. Then she went on about how excited she was that we’d be going and we started to wind each other up talking about how much fun it was going to be. She said brightly, “I dream about it every night!”
Then she said she was tired and wanted to take a nap, but that she’d call me back later that afternoon.
When the phone rang about two hours later, thinking it was her I answered with my usual chirp when I knew she’d be calling. It was not my mom, but instead my brother. He was calling to tell me our mother had died in her bed about a half hour before.
My mom was my biggest fan, and so very proud of the person I’d become. She’d tell anyone who would listen about my designing and being the mother of a special needs son. Last May, when I brought her one of the first copies my book Knitting Lingerie Style and put it in her lap, you’d have thought it was the Crown Jewels from the look on her face. I was and am glad that she was so proud of me; it was all I ever really wanted.
In her heyday (the 1940’s) she was a fashionista. With their husbands away at war, she and three of her sisters lived at home but held full time jobs as secretaries or hairdressers to help out their mother who was a widow. However, much of their pay went to the assembly of some pretty darned impressive wardrobes. All of them sewed well, and recut old men’s suits or coats to reflect the most stylish fashions of the day. There were family photos of them in one fabulous suit after another (no mean feat during wartime with all of it’s rationing) with gorgeous little bags and shoes, chic little hats, and furs flung over their shoulders on their way to church. I am positive that seeing the photos and home movies of them was one of the biggest influences on my own design esthetic.
Below, my mom looking chic as can be on her way to church, with my brother and just hanging out in a casual pant outfit.
My mother was the youngest of seven siblings and though her name was Angela, her family would use the diminutive “Angelina” to tease her, as would my father all through their 67 year marriage. To say she disliked this would have been putting it mildly, and my dad would good naturedly taunt her with it just to get a rise out of her.
I continued the family tradition five years ago when I designed this garment inspired by a bedjacket pattern from the 40’s. It reminded me so much of something she would have worn, I called it the Angelina Vintage jacket.
I thought she would really be bugged that I named this garment Angelina and I did it just to tease her, but to my surprise she was delighted ! I ran it frequently in national knitting ads and she would excitedly thumb through the magazines at the grocery store just to find it. If she did, it would make her day!
Later in our lives, my mom became one of my best friends and I hers. I still reach for the phone a dozen times a day to call her, just to share a little snippet of something fun that I heard or did until I realize she won’t be there to answer. I miss this terribly. They say it gets easier with time, but at this moment I just don’t see how it can.