She was born in her grandmother’s cabin on the desolate plains of northern Minnesota. Such a setting brought to her an intense longing for glamour and romance. She found it in novels, Hollywood movies, with friends and, for a time, in each of her marriages.
But she was also a mother. Along the way, she gave birth to seven children. Her third child was a blue-eyed whirlwind described by many as all boy. When she was 32 (how young that seems now), a car accident took her son’s life. I doubt any mother ever recovers from a child’s death. She didn’t. Not totally.
Despite her loss she journeyed on, though perhaps with less spirit. She found stability in raising her children, in keeping house, baking breads and pastries, reading. In selling Avon. How appropriate for her to turn to selling cosmetics and perfumes. She did well with it, earning honors and awards. For nearly four decades, Avon helped her find the glamour and recognition she craved.
At some point I came to see that she never seemed to plan. Although she worked hard, for her life simply happened. The realization disturbed me. It wasn’t my way. But somehow things seemed to work out for her.
I spoke at her funeral. It was only as I wrote out my words that I put shape to the thought that she had been the ultimate pantser. She had lived her life by the seat of her pants, seemingly sliding from one event to the next. Making it up as she went. Of course we writers know there’s something to be said for pantsers.
It’s been 18 months since she left us. Today would have been her 81st birthday.
Happy birthday, Mom. I love you.