Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Happy Birthday Mom!

This is my favorite picture of my mom, Ruth Marcus Williams, taken in the summer of 1934 when she was 5 years old. She is sitting in the back of 2020 East 29th Street in Brooklyn. Her parents had just divorced formally, after a 5 year separation. So she effectively grew up in a one parent household. She was always ahead of her time.

She was a talented woman, played piano and sang. Mostly Broadway show stuff. She was trained in voice and had planned on a career in the theater when she met my Dad, who was about to graduate Maritime High School and go to sea. Good thing they didn't, or else I wouldn't be writing this.

My Mom was sick, from the time I was 5 years old, until she died of the complications from pancreatic cancer 25 years later. I never really knew her before she was ill. I do have some warm recollections of her before she got sick, but they are clouded in the haze of early childhood. I remember being young enough to have a "sink" bath, that is, being washed in the kitchen sink rather than the tub, so I must have been about 3 or 4 years old. I can remember her calling out to my brother and I from the 4th floor window of our apartment on Bedford Avenue and Kings Highway, and even throwing down change wrapped in a paper towel for ice cream. I don't think anything can dislodge those memories from my mind.

I can also still recall her stripped dress and her dresser drawer full of kerchiefs. I know that I have printed this here before, but indulge me as I remember her with these lyrics, written several years ago while thinking about her at the piano; the beach; and just sitting on the sofa reading a book and being my Mom.

I can still see you there,
standing by the door.
Wearing your red kerchief and your coat.

And though I think I see your face
so clearly in my mind,
I know I'll never see you anymore.

I can still hear your voice
it's ringing in my head.
I can hear the words to every song.

Time's the perfect bandit,
it will steal your heart away.
It's robbed me just a little at a time.

And though I think I hear your voice,
So clearly in my mind,
I know I'll never hear it anymore.

Happy Birthday Mom. I still think of you as you were before all the illness. I know that's how you wanted it to be.

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