My mother was the eye of the storm in our house.
From the moment she got up to the wee hours of the morning she would be filled with passion and vitality. Big belly laughs would roll through the rooms as she shook her hips while whistling, dancing, scatting* and snapping herself through the day…
(*For the younger generation – scatting is a free-form improvised way of singing jazz that became popular in the 1960’s. It was pioneered by Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Tormé, and Louis Armstrong.)
We all moved around her in a swirl of energy. She was happy, strong, smart, vivacious, sexy, cool and funny. She was also fair and discerning in teaching us manners and discipline, and her boundaries were clear to us; but if we misbehaved, the four of us plus Boy, the dog, knew we had to run!
I say this with affectionate humor of course, because that was another era and that’s just the way it was done, old school parenting! After all, she was a triple Taurus, and you just don’t mess with a triple Taurus.
To say my mother had a colorful personality is a complete understatement. She was like an exploding rainbow, and she always brought technicolor into the room. She also had an amazing way of making anyone in her radius feel listened to, seen and loved. To receive a large warm laugh from her was like having your soul embraced, and it changed you. This is not an exaggeration; I saw her change people’s lives with her warmth and love.
She always loved and lived for her art and music: Oscar Peterson, Erroll Garner, Count Basie, Joe Pass, Stephane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt, Wynton Marsalis, Kenny Burrell, Barney Kessel, Bill Evans, Ella, Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee, Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan; the list was long and lingering as each musician brought her to another and she would go on endless, intimate journeys absorbed with each one of them as she studied their sound, history and lineage.
When she was home there wasn’t a moment that our record player stayed motionless. Jazz wafted through our fluffy pink house in Los Angeles. The windows were always wide open, and the scent of evening Jasmine and warm rose sailed in on a gentle breeze. Plumes of frankincense and myrrh hung in the air while golden, glittering sun rays cast long, filtered light beams making shadows that would swing across the walls to the beat of our mom.
Happy Mother’s Day to our beloved Mother. We love you and miss you fiercely. Happy Mother’s Day to all Mama’s everywhere, and happy Mother’s Day to our planet, Mother Earth.