Happy Mother’s Day, Mama. Miss You…

I was raised by my grandmother.  I always called her Mama.  She had a heavy hand that was calloused with housework, smelled of cigarettes (Pall Mall red, no filters) and fingernails yellowed by nicotine.  Pall Mall red, no filters robbed me of her in 2005.

Mama on stairs

This is my mama years and years before I existed. She worked on John Street in lower Manhattan.

She was never one for hugs and kisses but through her toughness, I always knew that she loved me and was devoted to me.  She sang to me, spoke some yiddish to me (everyone thought she was Italian, too) and taught me how to cook.  But the most important thing she ever gave me was her unconditional love.  Sometimes it meant discipline but even when that was the case, it was because she believed in me and wanted me to be the best person I could be.

When I think of my mama, this is who I see.  Not necessarily eating pepperoni but the woman with the silver hair (usually with a "permanent" because it was easier to care for) wearing a housedress (which HAD TO have two pockets so she could carry her tissues, a pack of Pall Mall red, no filters and her Bic -- people smoked inside their houses in the '70s) who hated to have her picture taken (so many photos were candids like this one) in our apartment on Barclay Avenue in Flushing.

When I think of my mama, this is who I see. Not necessarily eating pepperoni but the woman with the silver hair (usually with a “permanent” because it was easier to care for) wearing a housedress (which HAD TO have two pockets so she could carry her tissues, a pack of Pall Mall red, no filters and her Bic — people smoked inside their houses in the ’70s) who hated to have her picture taken (so many photos were candids like this one) in our apartment on Barclay Avenue in Flushing.

It’s Mother’s Day.  Today I got to see my gorgeous-but-growing-up-way-too-quickly little girl play soccer.  I love her unconditionally and I hope she knows it even though I’m not all that great with hugs and kisses either.  Whenever I am in the kitchen, she helps me cook.  I tell her “this is the way Mama taught me.”  Oftentimes now she’s the one cooking for me — and she’s really good at it — and she does a lot of things “Mama’s” way.  I miss you, Mama.  I think your Pall Mall red, no filters short-changed us a lot of Mother’s Days together.  But that’s OK.  Now more than ever I treasure the time we had when you were on this earth with me and I know you are here with me always.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama.

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