The earliest walking photos reminded me of the time she spent with me not only in mastering the physical aspect of walking but also instilling curiosity. This she did by reading to me, everything she could muster and that existed in some part of our (then) Milwaukee home - from fantasy stories (e.g. Peter and the Wolf) to science passages about the planets from The Book of Knowledge.
Therein I devoured as many astronomy articles as I could - by age 7. Whenever I encountered a difficult word, mom would define it for me, but after a time she gave me my own dictionary to find it myself. It was an inestimable contribution to my future education and set me on the course to independent learning.
- An early culmination of her efforts resulted in me winning the top Science Fair prize at Pace High. Above with my proud physics teacher, Mr. Webb, and below that an image from a piece done in The Miami Herald on my project.
Two months later it was time for the Senior Prom, and mom was not enthused by my initial choice (left) of Eileen for Prom date. (I'd already taken her to a number of Pace High dances as well as to Venetian Pool.) She wanted me to take Barbara, the daughter of a friend of hers instead - who also happened to be the Captain of the Pace High cheerleading squad. Not wishing to let her down I agreed. We all had a terrific time, Barb and myself dancing cheek to cheek until 4 a.m. before leaving for the breakfast .
Meanwhile, mom and dad served as chaperones (with other Pace parents) at Miami's Everglades Hotel, until they left at midnight, unable to keep eyes open any longer (especially dad!).
Years later, I recalled from this photo above- taken in July, 1967- - how mom arrived at my apartment on Canal St. in New Orleans (with the whole clan in tow) after I'd left Loyola to work for a couple years to save money. At the time she worried my food choices weren't the type needed for health so re-stocked my fridge with her own purchases. The whole family remained in N.O. for 10 days and at the end, she reminded me that while working for an oil company might seem terrific for now - it was not the end- and I had to go back to finish my degree.
Flush with enough cash, I left the oil co. in 1969 and completed my degree in astronomy with a minor in mathematics. The photo shows my proud mom with me outside the Beta dorm at the Univ. of South Florida. Then four years serving in Peace Corps followed by my wedding to Janice, and the image below shows the two of us standing with mom and dad near the main table at the reception
The talk of everyone at the wedding reception was how mom - unable to control the mother in her- patted my hair (she sat in the church row behind us) to help eliminate some wild strands.
After the wedding we got to show her and dad some of the island, And she posed with the newlyweds in the photo below - before we went on our honeymoon:
They then got to see much more of Barbados when they returned in 1988 - even going to Harrisons Cave, and Mom learning to surf while we stayed at a Bathsheba beach house..
My last in person contact with mom was in July,2009 at the time of my dad's death and funeral. Two days after the funeral, I visited her in her Port Charlotte retirement home apt. and we poured through old family photo albums. The occasion was almost magical in the sense that her memory was vivid and she was lucid enough for us to have an extended conversation. Within two more years, this ability was lost as she grew more afflicted by the Alzheimer's that ultimately would claim her life.