There were many complex chapters to the
to my mother. I love the positive ones I have written. She was not
your average 'mom in an apron in the kitchen all day.'
It was April 12, 1945. My sisters and I
from school one day to our little house in Corpus Christi, Texas. It
was deathly quiet. We three looked at one another questionably.
Always, mother would be ironing in the living room, a stack of
clothes piled high on the floor, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and
other familiar sounds blaring
away on the old
Philco radio. My mother dancing her boogie-woogie
We entered our modest living room with
There she was, crying her eyes out. Her beautiful mane of thick brown
hair cascading over her face, piles of used tissues on the floor and
swathed in her usual daytime at home attire, an orange chenille robe
with white trim. When asked about her crying, sobbing she replied,
“President Roosevelt is dead!” She cried for days.
My mother was beautiful. She had yearned to
actress but her father, a former Episcopalian priest, said she had to
go to college first and then she could think about acting school. Six
months into college she met my father, married, had me in September
1936. Just fifteen months later, my twin sisters
Her acting career never took off, but a love of music and a dramatic
flair for everything she did remained.
She was a cross between Rita Hayworth and
Bergman and she danced to every activity imaginable; doing dishes,
cleaning, ironing, shopping. The music blared in the background while
bathing us, feeding us, cooking and dashing us to tap dance lessons
when living in Hollywood, Florida before Texas, in her two door Ford
she had christened, ‘The Green Goose.’
Often she dragged us to a bar and grill
Rainbow Room, where she would meet her friends, put nickels in the
juke box and enter her own private world of Miller, Dorsey, Goodman
once again and dance. We three sat patiently until she returned
to us and reality. Glenn Miller her favorite band.
Coupon books were distributed during those
You were allowed only so much sugar and other staples with them.
Mother would drag us all in the store, (this included half-brothers
years younger than we were) to get her groceries
us and them back into the car.
To our astonishment she would then proceed
off her dress! She would slip into an entirely different set of
clothes and pile her luscious, brown hair up onto her head tying a
head band of sorts around it. She would apply a darker lipstick onto
her full, sensuous lips, and attach large hoop earrings to her ears.
Her entire appearance would change dramatically. Off
would go to return to the store getting extra, badly needed staples
for our family of 7.
Many times while in a grocery store or
music of the bands came on and my mother would quickly glance around
to see whether anyone was looking and break into a swing dance in the
middle of an aisle, her skirt flying and saddle shoes really
‘boppin’. We three were frantic someone would turn a
corner, “Mommy, Mommy stop!”, we called out in unison,
“someone is going to see you!” To no avail, we saw that
inward disappearing act where only the strain of her favorite piece
was ‘lord of her mind’ at that moment.
She was always moving, acting, making faces
mirror. She would become a character behind people’s backs
disappearing into her fantasy worlds. as if she felt inwardly that
indeed ‘all the world’s a stage’ and she a main
actor. We three were always worrying someone would see her and think
In retrospect it was obvious she should
have been an
actress. She was a Lucille Ball all over, or a Carol Burnet.
Years later as my sisters and I went to our
destinies, she and our stepfather moved to various parts of the
world. We lost touch as they settled in South
she learned to speak the Portuguese language. As oft occurs destinies
removed us all further from one another.
She had wanted to be an
actress. I had
wanted to be a singer. In both cases marriage, children,
responsibilities, divorces occurred and dreams were surrendered to
In college I played the band records of her
continuously. Even after marriage and children I would be singing
‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’ or blast ‘St. Louis Blues
March’ while I ironed. Gene Kruppa’s famous drum
solo, Sing Sing Sing would
definitely get me
going if fatigue came knocking on the door or when the full moon was
especially bright. When ‘In The Mood’, one of Miller’s
greatest pieces was played, I always saw in my mind that
place reflected in mother’s eyes that she escaped to.
I listen to Miller’s music and back on the
shelves of my mind are memories that lay dormant,
too, disappear to those dusty regions to read their
pages. I also get dreamy, nostalgic, misty eyed. I picture myself
singing with his band, I dance to the familiar refrains. I say to my
mother in spirit, “I understand.”
Glenn Miller’s band was one of the most
and best-known dance bands of the Swing era. His music a careful
mixture of swing, jazz, improvisation which received praise from
audiences and critics alike. With each passing year I appreciate and
love it more and more. It filled longings in my mother unrealized, it
does the same for me.
The complexities of human behavior, the
the natural. world hold the same fascination for me, now a senior, as
they did many moons ago. Writing and enjoying each day my current
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
story list and biography
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