My mom’s favorite food was “a good hotdog”. Even when my father, late in life, became financially successful and could afford nice restaurants, my mom was true blue. Zero affectations, she was as down to earth as they come. Yes, her jokes were sometimes “dirty”. She mixed it up as she covered some “cleaner” material too.
Once he could afford it, my father loved to buy her nice things, but never full price – always from Loehmann’s or other outlets. But still nice. My mom on the other hand, till the end, loved flea markets. She’d be so proud of her 50 cents purchases. Unlike many wives back in the day, instead of smidging the truth a bit about the price and saying it was less expensive, my mom would go the other direction. She would tell my dad it cost more, because he wanted her to have the things they could never afford. It was cute. Mom would say – I got this dress for 75 cents, but don’t tell your father!
Mom always worked hard. For many years she worked at my dad’s dry cleaning shop. Later she worked for the NY State Vocational Rehabilitation department. She would come home from work, throw dinner together, and joke, “I’m fast. Fast but lousy but fast.“ She actually was a great cook.
Later, after Dad’s career change, Mom and Dad sometimes travelled in fancy circles. She hated pretensions. She’d often say, “Look, I’m just a poor girl from the Bronx” or “Your father dresses me up like I’m a paper doll. I’m just as happy in my flea market outfits” or “You can take a girl out of the Bronx, but you can’t take the Bronx out of the girl” (I’m not sure if I imagined that last saying or if she’d actually say it!)
My Dad’s side of this is quite colorful too; I can’t wait to delve into it. But not yet.
My takeaway? I learned from her what’s important. I’ve definitely gotten caught up in superficial stuff and have had to pull myself back. But I have a solid anchor; it’s who you are that’s important, not what you have. ©
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