|Approximately 18 years old
From what my half-sister has told me, my mother was quite a “party girl”. She also was very vain and self-absorbed, this according to my youngest aunt. Before my aunt died she passed along this tidbit to my sister. I never considered my mother's always being dressed well, wearing make-up and having her hair done, as vain. I thought she took pride in her appearance as she was a working mother. The self-absorbed part, I understood. Upon hearing that my mother enjoyed fun and was always up for a good time when she was younger definitely puzzled me as I only knew her as dour and needy.
My mother told me a story once about when she was in the early days of dating my father. Tequila was recently introduced to the wild children of New York. My mother and father were at a party enjoying the benefits of the juice of the blue agave to the max. She was sitting on a couch with one leg tucked up underneath her. As the tequila took hold of the party goers, my mother needed to pee. She made an attempt to rise but realized she had lost her leg! Looking down and seeing only one leg, the logical tequila conclusion was the other leg had departed for parts unknown. She announced to the soused group that her leg had gone missing. Her friends, being ever helpful, began a search. Apparently the searching lasted several minutes before a less intoxicated member of the group suggested she look under her skirt. Hilarity ensued when the missing leg was found.
My kids adore this story. I laugh when I re-tell it but still have difficulty in seeing this drunk, happy, silly, care-free woman as the mother I knew.
My maternal grandparents had emigrated from Scotland between 1902 and 1906. They had lost four children to a measles epidemic in Scotland and decided to leave their motherland for the golden streets of New York, New York, United States of America. My grandfather came first. His name was so common that I cannot find him on the Ellis Island documents. I was able to find my grandmother along with three of my aunts. They arrived at Ellis Island in 1906 with the grand sum of $36.00 USD and were released to my grandfather. In America they produced three more daughters and a son along with several miscarriages and a still birth. My grandfather was a master carpenter, an alcoholic and a union supporter. My grandmother was a homemaker and did piecework sewing for extra money.
By 1938 my mother was a widow with a four year-old daughter. She'd been through a World War, The Great Depression, a second marriage, pregnancy, the untimely and unnecessary death of her husband and had moved back home to her parents and siblings with my half- sister in tow. She'd also begun working at The New York Telephone Company as a switchboard operator. This was a career path she followed until she retired in 1978.
The reason I started down this pot-hole filled memory lane was a recent conversation I had with my kids. They were talking about family Christmases and how great they were when they were growing up. With my family in New York and Mulder's family 1.5 hours away, when my kids were young, we stayed home for Christmas. Our next door neighbors were close friends. Herman and Sheila were older than us, had three teenage sons and were a really nice family. They were also Jewish but were totally in love with all things Christmas. They all would come over for the traditional Christmas Eve and Christmas day dinner and festivities. We all had a fantastic time every year. We'd also celebrate Passover with them as well as birthdays, anniversary’s, etc. My children have fond memories of “family” (yes – Herman, Sheila and their boys are family!) Christmases when they were young. Me, not so much.
I have no memories of any “family” Christmas, Easter, and/or Thanksgiving celebrations. Wait! I lie! I do have a memory of going to someone's home one Easter. I was wearing an extremely scratchy white blouse and a pink wool suit. We got stuck on the Long Island Expressway for hours on the unusually warm Easter Sunday and I ended up arriving at whoever house it was in my underpants and undershirt with my lacy socks and patent leather maryjanes. So, no. Not any happy memories of any “family” holidays.
What I'm telling you here are my memories, they are the truth as I see it. I'm going to continue on with posts like this because I'm hoping that by digging into my past, I'll improve my present and future.