Today I came across the old-fashioned piece of luggage Mom sometimes used and I looked inside. I had done the same thing last week and found the scissor collection that my Mom had amassed. Today I found several things that I left inside that are more than indicative of Mom, kind of a signature of sorts.
I cannot remember whether it occurred in late 1959 or early 1960, but after my Dad died on June 11, 1959, my Mom decided to let go of the house he and she had rehabbed from a disastrous state in the Mount Pleasant area of Cleveland (11401 Dove Avenue) and move to the suburbs. She moved us to Parma, and purchased a small bungalow that they called a Cape Cod (never looked that way to me) with the cash she had received from the sale of her Cleveland home. My Dad had received a four-year scholarship to John Carroll University (then, a college) and was unable to use it, having to go to work to help support his Dad who pretty much never worked. My mom graduated from high school, being the first female in the family to do so, all while fighting her parents who expected her to go to work. My dad, when he died, worked for the Eastman Kodak Company and had risen from photo finisher to some other title, my mom was convinced he was on an upward track. Luckily, they had had the foresight to have insurance that ended up paying for their Cleveland home upon my Dad’s death and she was able to move us away.
Parma was where we moved and despite my complaints about it, I was provided with a great public school education that easily allowed me to flow into the university when I graduated. My Mom loved the town and I will say that it had many services, but I really could not deal with the narrow-minded, tightly ethnic atmosphere and the nastiness of many of my peers. The nastiness started right away in elementary school, a stark contrast to what I had been used to in Cleveland Public schools and then a Cleveland Catholic school. I remember being made fun of for this and for that, but mainly because I was not an accomplished sports player.
Parma, again, did give me the academic background to move on and also the desire to leave it, with the idea of never having to return. This was not to be as my mom lived there until 2003 when the arrival of dementia and a knee replacement finally slowed her down and necessitated finding some way of helping her, a very independent lady who had never remarried. She had come close, but as I understand it, the only suitor who had provided her with an engagement ring decided that he was not willing to put me through college and dumped my Mom. The irony was that my Mom had stockpiled all of my Social Security and Veterans’ checks (which were supposed to be used for my welfare) and I had enough to pay for four years at Ohio University with enough left over to by a Ford Pinto. In the end, the break up with Stanley Laskowski was a good thing as he was incessantly jealous whenever my Mom would go anywhere and she agreed that it would not have been a good thing to marry him.
So the old suitcase sits at the door, the funny sunglasses my Mom would often wear over her regular glasses (also often funny), and a piece of Parma lying on top. A fitting goodbye to Mom and a long, fruitful life.