#6 …A Few More Words About ” Ruthie “

April 20, 2016

My mother was the baby of her family and she could get away with a lot more at home, especially with her father, than her siblings.  She was an” ear ” witness, from her three older sisters, of all the deprivations they had lived through as a result of her fathers, binge drinking.  Aunt Lilly had nothing but contempt for her father but my mother saw herself as his defender.

When it came to protecting her family or people she loved, my mother had no limits.  Were you going to the hospital overnight?  OK where is the cot? ,  because she wouldn’t be going home..no way !.  Not getting attention from the nurses?  Think of Shirley McLean in “Terms of Endearment”.

When I think of who else in the Gore – Tenety  family is that protective, especially with animals, my daughter Maurine comes to mind as carrying that gene.  There is simply no length of sacrifice or spending  to which she won’t go to balance  the scales.  And, that includes adopting orphan, ugly Christmas trees !

And, my mom was afraid of no man. There is a story that my mom and dad were at a beer garden with my aunt Lilly and Uncle Harry. My uncle Joe was there,  separately , at the bar when he was confronted and punched by another man.  My mother didn’t wait for my father and Uncle Harry to act .  She was up, across the room and on the assailants back in a flash.

My mother was spirited in a spirited age.  She was a flapper who could do the Charleston or Black Bottom all night, every night without drinking or compromising her standards.  She had a slew of girlfriends who loved to go out dancing.  My father, with his two left feet,  was her wet blanket. But she went along with his behavior of being ” a stay at  home” because   she respected his idealistic behavior and his dreams for the family.  It wasn’t till after he died in 1966, forty years later ,that she gradually  got the ‘ go out ” bug again…only this time it was BINGO.  She would drive to Delray, Florida BINGO almost every night for the next thirty years  often accompanied by my sister Beth.  Yes, she was still driving ALONE at age 95 and had no intention of stopping.

.flaper and mom and dad0002mom bridsmaid

But,  the two things I remember most about my mother,  is how much she loved her mother …and my mother’s unorthodox way of thinking and feeling about things.

My father was easy to understand, …age 1-14.. ” do as I say “, after age 14 ” just ask yourself what a man would do and do it .”
Even today, when confronted by a tough choice, I ask myself what would my father do. It almost never fails to clarify the situation.

My mother’s reactions were  a lot more difficult to predict.  But,  you were on the right path if you understood the relationship between Jesus and Mary. .

My mother believed that Jesus would do anything for his mother and my mother prayed to Mary, often, to intercede on her behalf with her son , Jesus.  At age 96, she phoned me before she died to reassure me that the Giants would beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl.. She died the next day, but upstairs, the fix was in. Now, just imagine my reaction when David Tyree caught that ball on his helmet. I knew what it was, just Jesus complying with his mother’s wishes. And I knew where my mother was and what she was up to..

It took me a long time to realize it, but my mother expected me to interact with her the way Jesus interacted with Mary. This had nothing to do with being Catholic. My mother was not a big fan of the Roman Catholic  Church Organization , but absolutely she  had faith in Jesus as her go to guy  and absolutely revered his mother.

As a half Jew, my interaction with my parents was not clear cut Catholic or Jewish. My father would make a point to wake me on Sunday mornings to tell me to get out of bed and go to Mass. Just as my mother would light Jewish candles for someone in his family who had died. My father donated a whole row of pews to our local church.  And, even after my father had died, my mother insisted on helping support his mother with a monthly check.

My maternal grandmother loved real estate and , luckily, she  inherited some money  and used it to purchase a two family house, and she used the money she was accumulating from the rental apartment to build a three room bungalow . She wanted me to have a yard to play in, so when I was three, 1939, she moved out and I and my parents moved in.

It was about that time that I remember my mother would allow me to leave my ” youth bed ”  to join her in bed after my father left for work. I was always an early riser and couldn’t wait for the day to begin. I had no intention of sleeping and my mother would often open one eye to remind me ” little boy – be careful .” laugh before seven and cry before eleven “. One time , she offered me a dollar if I could just lie still for five minutes.

That morning visit to my mom was my schooling in moralistic behavior. She told me stories and these stories were designed to elicit an immediate  reaction from me which she could test against her Jesus benchmark. Sometimes she fabricated stories about people and animals. She told me about the time she refused entry to her birthday party to a poor little girl who had no gift. She got a reaction from me alright……pure anger. But, you better believe from that time on everyone was welcome to my parties gift or no gift.

My mother was always for the disadvantaged and the under dog. It was she who told me Jesus had said…what you do to the least of mine  ( she included all animals ),  you do to me. Result, till this very day I would never harm a living creature as small as an ant. And, if truth be told I  consider all animals my equal.  I have no time or respect for anyone who turns his back on an animal suffering , and I see naive, defenseless pigs as part of my spiritual constituency.  Have a party while a pig’s head roasts on a spit…Get me out of here !  And, don’t give me any crap about conservation or domain over animals as a license to do what you want to them..

On the other hand my mother taught me to be careful of people who calculate rather than ” feel ” ….including some women. When I laughingly reminded her she was a woman…she would say ” that’s different…I’m your mother “.

It wasn’t till much later on ( college ) that they began to make me feel special. One time I went  to my mother and wondered  why my life needed to be complicated by  being half Jewish and half Irish.  She said,  You get down on your knees and thank God. You have a Jewish brain, an Irish heart, and you look like your parents. Isn’t that advantage enough ?

And, the one time I was really up against it  legally ( being unjustly sued for trademark infringement ), I  went to my mother expressing regret that I hadn’t gone to law school. Her reply, ” Richard you are not a lawyer, you are a lawyer’s lawyer. Now stop this nonsense and start using your brain ! ” Hows that for a confidence booster !

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