It's hard to live with a brilliant person and my mother was nothing if not brilliant. Friends would take so much pleasure in her mercurial and crazy approach to life, hers was anything but mundane. We children would merely shake our heads. We had heard it all before.
It was a bit tougher to take if you were on the inside, subject to Adelle's whims, vagaries, caprice and occasional selfishness. I admit, I was not easy either. It is the rule of the road; when you live in a cauldron, grow your armor quickly or be incinerated. We all gave as good as we got, to be sure. And we all mostly survived.
Of course my mother is no longer here to defend herself and I could just imagine her telling me what a bastard I am and always was. Tom can mimic her to a t and often does. Has the accent down pat. "Bobby, you bastard..."
So I think I will focus on the better parts of our life together, the things I most respected about her and they were many. She adopted many strays off the street, both human and animal. Never met a stranger. She loved her dogs, perhaps as much if not more than she loved her children. One could do worse than to be reborn as her hound.
She probably accomplished more professionally, in more disparate fields, than any person I have ever known.
She taught French and History. She was a guidance counselor. She wrote the first adopted African American curriculum in the State of New York. She was an editor of a major New York publishing house and increased their titles by fourfold during her employ. She was a great editor and assembled an amazing family library.
|Terry, Murray and Adelle|
Ran political campaigns. Had a spot at Elaines, got the great table at Le Veau D'or where she lunched many Thursdays with Magritte's lawyer, Mr. Tavernier.
She left Gramercy Park for Hoboken and then slid west. She eventually hid out in the Poconos for thirty years and sold antiques. Went on the lam, but always with a big coterie of sycophants and well wishers in her train, bewitched and betwixt by her magic and personality.
Her kids didn't necessarily buy it but were generally content to let her ply her schtick. She concocted a magnificent and utterly fake origin story but everybody bought in, that is until we didn't.
She sold cheap shit like Shawnee, Red Wing and Hull, loved depression glass, occupied japan, sold iron figural doorstops and old Harley manuals, became an expert in the obscure and forgotten. Was horrified when she saw what I spent on my material.
She had some twisted relationships with some very twisted men, many of whom drank too much but finally found a pliant husband who would worship her and rarely say no to anything she asked. She was in heaven. He was a great guy who deserves a medal and definitely a case of purple hearts. I wouldn't have taken her crap for a second, he loved her and ate it up.
She was a gourmet cook. We were forced to eat calves brains and eggs as kids but she did other things exceedingly well, like stroganoff and veal marsala. Phenomenal bread and biscuit maker. Dog and cat lover. Voracious reader. Kept us clothed and fed.
We may have received the short end of the stick on some occasions but she loved her kids and took pleasures in all their accomplishments. She was proud of us and rightfully so, I come from a family of very gifted and intelligent people.
She genuinely liked my writing. She used to write in to the blast comments and encourage me. I still get a tear thinking about that. She liked my fiction. I proofed for her when she worked at Pinnacle so to have her genuine acclaim means a lot to me.
Mom, I miss you. We all did the best we were capable of, considering. I know I was no picnic. Not like any of us get a dress rehearsal in this life thing. Miss you and love you Mom.
|Mom and John|