Thursday, June 21, 2012


I've sadly neglected this blog.  It's often the way things work in life, I suppose.  We start something new with such enthusiasm only to succumb to demands of day to day, leaving our creative spirit on the shelf for another time.

I remember when my mom got a bread maker as a gift from my sister.  My mom was elated.  Annie and I strategized the best storage for the monster of a machine, since counter space is always a precious commodity in any kitchen.  My mother wouldn't hear of putting the behemoth away in the cabinet; "I'm going to make bread every day!", she insisted.

Every day became once every couple of weeks, which quickly became another appliance stored in my parent's garage.  I'd bet a dollar that it's still hanging around somewhere on a shelf along with cans of WD40 and rusty screws.

Intentions and execution aren't always in sync.  I started this blog to keep a memory alive-- to be reminded of the joy that my mom brought to my life.  I'm supposed to be channeling her creative spirit, damn it!  Unfortunately, that energy hasn't hit me quite as easily of late. 

Having shelved blog writing for so long frankly makes me feel scared and guilty.  I'm worried that by not putting something out "there" into the universe, I'm losing bits of my mom along the way.  I have wanted to cling to the memories of my mother, not just for my sake, but for children's as well.  They were both super small when she died.  I want them to have a piece of her; the thought that they have lost out on knowing her makes me so deeply sad.

People often throw out cliches about loss- "you will carry her spirit on to your children- they will know her through you".  I wanted to punch the first person who told me that, honestly.   But hell, the cliche has resonated with me lately.  

I see my mom in my kids every day.  I see her in my son's profile (he has her cheeks), his quick wit, and his gentle tending to his little sister.  I see her in my daughter's zest for life and her natural talent for making happiness contagious.  They, in truth, are carrying my mother's spirit- not the other way around.  They embody all that I loved about her and need to keep alive for myself.  They are absolutely, without a doubt, already infused with her love.

So, maybe inspiration will hit me more often and I'll be able to "bake bread" every day.  Maybe not.  I can still achieve my intended purpose just by paying attention and staying checked into the beauty of my day to day. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Saint on Wheels?

Part of the reason behind this blog, as I said in my first post, is to create a space for myself that will serve as a tribute to my mom.  Loretta Lord was something special; she left her mark with everyone that knew her.  She made people's lives just a little brighter.  I can't recall how many times I have heard just how inspirational my mother was.  "Saint Loretta!", many of her friends would exclaim.

I can't explain why exactly, but the idea of my mom as a Saint royally pisses me off.  Yes, my mom was a strong woman.  She was kind, empathetic and loving.  And she embodied grace in a way that only those who are truly spiritual-- those who channel a divine force, can.

Yet, Saint?  No.  She was flesh and bone, and well... my mother.  She was absolutely without a doubt human, with same faults and foibles that all humans possess.  

One of those human quirks of my mother's came in the form of bad driving.  She was infamous among family and friends for the scrapes she got herself into when she was in the car.  Picture the little blue haired woman who could hardly see over the steering wheel.  That was mom.  It's a cliche and over-exaggerated visual, but it gives you the general idea.

Of all the driving horrors I have heard over the years, it's hard to know where to begin.  There was the time when she took my oldest sister on her first date with her beau (now husband) to the roller rink.  Traffic circles were very common in those days.  Mom couldn't maneuver circle traffic properly and wound up going around multiple (at least 10-15) times before finally getting off at the right stop.

There was the time when she managed to drive over a cement parking barrier, leaving her car like a helpless beached whale in the supermarket lot.  My brother-in-law came to her rescue and managed to save the beached car and my mother's hide.

There was the time when she hit the iron gate at the Old Rutgers campus as she was pulling through on her way to work.  Not only did she cause damage to the car, but she created a long line of agitated professors and administrators late for their morning classes.

After my mom passed,  I inherited her car for a brief period.  It was a maroon monstrosity-- all decked out in bumper stickers publicizing the Democratic party.  Parking the car felt like docking a boat.  Accelerating to proper speed took a good five minutes; braking took another five.  The spirit of my mother was alive and well in that car, and I was channeling her (awful) driving skills.

But, I have to admit, I loved every minute I had in that car.  I've come to realize that the most infuriating traits of our loved ones are often the ones we come to miss the most.  When we love, truly unconditionally, we love all the quirks, flaws and imperfections just as much as we love all of their goodness.

The maroon tank blew a gasket a few months ago.  It was not worth repairing.  I hate to admit just how much I miss that car.  The car that I'm driving now is zippy, fun and much more efficient.  But, it lacks something.  It lacks the soul of my beautiful, imperfect, non-Saintly mother.  And for that, I will shed a few more tears in mourning.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

(Embracing) The Fart Button

One of my mom's favorite things in life was a good bargain. Nabbing 30 cans of peas for ten cents or sweet talking a garage sale holder out of their entire stock of plaid shirts for a dollar was an absolute thrill.

No matter that there isn't a soul in our family that eats canned peas, and the plaid shirts were three sizes too large for anyone in the house. A bargain is a bargain after all.

We cleaned mom's pantry while we were all camping in her house during the last few weeks of her life. We found at least 10 containers of Mentadent toothpaste-- no doubt purchased during the Clinton administration. If a bomb dropped, we'd all have peas and clean teeth. Thank heavens.

Toys were a particularly exciting score for my mom; she had all kinds of odds and ends for the kids to play with. On each visit to Nana's, my son would pull back the easy chair. He'd squeal in delight at the island of misfit toys hidden in the corner behind it: a mish-mosh of Lincoln Logs, retro (potentially lead painted) toys, and random monopoly money. Stuff most moms dread and would throw away when nobody was looking. In the eyes of my son, though, it was a treasure trove.

One day after spending some time with Nana, Aidan came home with a particularly special prize. A fart button. Yes. A key-chain with five (count 'em, five) buttons- each of which sounded off a unique fart. Aidan was just about two at the time. He was elated.

Who the hell gives a two year old a fart button?

For the record, I'm not a prude. I actually think farts are pretty damned hilarious. But, I'm still not quite sure whether or not it's appropriate to pass on my sixth grade sense of humor to my children.

When I was about to share these thoughts with my mom, I didn't have the heart. I saw the excitement in her eyes about getting this toy. She was so proud of this find and wanted nothing more than to see my son happy. And happy he was.

So began a life of co-existing with "Farty". Aidan would attach Farty's key chain to one of his Thomas the Tank Engine trains and tow it along like any old train coach. Sometimes Farty was a phone; sometimes a stage for Aidan's GI Joe men. Pretty status quo, run of the mill toddler imagination stuff.

Still, Farty was an unwelcome house guest and I was determined to kick him to the curb.

A few months later, while in the process of moving into a new home, we began sorting out our old things. This would be my chance! Plop! Farty went into a trash bag. Whew! Life with Farty was over! As I put the bag of toys into my husband's trunk, I let out a sigh of relief. I had significantly reduced my son's chances of being "that kid" who made arm pit fart noises in class.

Then life became a whirlwind. I gave birth to our second child, our house purchase fell through, my mom was gravely ill. A day out of the hospital, I was looking at new houses and making contingency plans on living arrangements for the four of us. I was at my mother's nearly every day with my kids in tow just to see her, to be with her. It was the scariest, most intensely emotional time I have ever experienced. Life priorities became ultra simplified; family, love, food, shelter.

It's not until times like this that you realize how much useless junk we worry about on a daily basis. Obsessing over Farty fell completely off my radar.

Then it happened.

My mom had passed and we were settled into our current home. We purchased a new car and began to clear out my husband's old Echo to prepare it for the dealership. There in the trunk, tucked behind the usual pile of stuff was a black garbage bag. When we opened it, we were greeted with a cacophony of farts. I picked out the colorful key-chain, happy to be reunited with a keepsake that held memories of mom.

Farty has other uses these days. Aidan used Farty as a loud speaker in his pretend grocery store. Each button he pressed sent me into hysterics.

I'm pretty certain that Farty's return is no coincidence. He belonged with us and we with him. My mom knew this all along. In her parting words of wisdom, I can imagine her saying:

"Lighten up, Col! Farts are just plain funny".

Thursday, July 1, 2010



[greys] noun, verb, graced, grac·ing.
elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.
a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment.
favor or good will.

Grace Kelly-- that was my mom's celebrity look-alike in her youth. When she passed, my father gave us all a copy of her graduation picture, depicting her likeness to the fallen star. She was beautiful. In so many ways.

The name of my mother's doppelganger has lead me to think of the word "grace". Of all the descriptors in our language, grace is probably the last word I think I embody. I've always thought of graceful people as those are able to balance a book on their head while serving tea. Someone who excelled in ballet and never farts in public. Who always says the right thing. Kind of southern belle like; a vision of perfectness in an imperfect world.

And that's not me. Far from it.

Yet, I know my mother was a graceful woman. Not that she was a southern belle, oh no. She learned to curse in her later years, and she was a rabble-rouser. She wrote incendiary editorial letters about politics, religion and even on one occasion-- pickles. She let my nieces and nephews slide down her stairs in a blanket and eat peanut butter from the jar. And then let the dog lick it off their fingers.

My mother exuded grace by seeing the good in all people and things. By enjoying life in all its little wonders, like sidewalk chalk, ice pops and bubbles. By showing empathy to an overwhelmed, tired new dad by telling him that no one loves babies at 4am.

I remember watching her in conversation. She listened with all her being. She offered her gentle wisdom, but only when people really wanted to hear it. She was absolutely engaged, present in the moment. Perhaps that's why she had no many people who loved her.

I miss her so much. There are times that I wish they could figure out a way to bottle someone's essence. Every once in awhile, I'd open that bottle and let it envelope me. Like a cushy robe and a hot bowl of soup.

My blog is this in a nutshell: an attempt at capturing the essence of my mom through writing. My mother was a writer; what better way to channel her? I don't aspire to be the embodiment of true grace like she was-- those are tall shoes to fill. But I hope to feel closer to her spirit through words.