Saturday, February 28, 2009
Happy Birthday, Bette Hayes!
Today is my mom’s birthday—she turns 93 years young! Now that’s a lot of years. Think historically for a moment: what were things like in 1916? The First World War was raging; a lot of folks in the country (which covered way more territory than it does at present) still used the horse & buggy for transportation. The age of radio had yet to dawn—my mother still talks about how her family would gather around the radio in the evenings when one did come into her home.
She has mentioned to me that she has a memory of Armistice Day—she says people took to the streets banging pots & pans in celebration of “the War to End All Wars” coming to an end. She saw the transition to automobiles; lived thru the Great Depression & the New Deal; saw World War II from the West Coast, where blackouts in anticipation of air raids were a regular occurrence—not to mention rationing. She witnessed the beginning of the TV age, the turmoil of the 60s, saw the moon walk (I know that, because I was there watching it too), & has seen the rise of computers, the turn of a new millennium & the election of an African-American man as president.
& of course, there are so many memories on a personal level. She & my father were married in November of 1941 & remained married until his death in November 2005; a full 64 years of marriage. She visited every one of the 50 states, as well as Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Great Britain & Ireland, & Morocco. She lived in the Boston area growing up, & lived in the Bay Area, in San Leandro, during World War II (my father was stationed in the Pacific—he served in the Seabees). Later they lived in Ventura, then made the long drive back east to Vermont, my Dad’s home state. They built a home together on the GI Bill (& with my father’s excellent carpentry skills), where my sister & I were raised. In retirement, they moved to Florida for a milder climate & lots of fishing. For the past year, my mother has returned to the Boston area to be close to my sister & her family.
Longevity is something we all hope for—it’s difficult to think about the extinction of our “self.” Of course, such longevity comes with a price—the price of losing loved ones & friends. My mother has always persevered thru this with her characteristic Yankee grit & stoical outlook. Although she’s in her 90s, she continues to read voraciously, work on the Sunday Times crossword, keep busy with various sewing projects, & has even taken up drawing thru classes at the place she lives.
So: happy birthday, Ma—this post is just a token of Eberle & my respect for the life you’ve led. We all love you lots!
Top pic: My mother at a mere 82 trying to start a snowball fight. This was taken in June of 1998 at about 7,000 feet on the road between McCall & Burgdorf.
Second pic: My mother & father’s wedding portrait, November 1941
Third pic: from l-r: my sister Naomi, myself (qua hippie ne’er-do-well), my mother & father in December 1974 on a snowshoe excursion in Vermont. Pic was taken by my brother-in-law, Mort Rosenberg.
Fourth pic: Christmas 1986 in Westminster, VT: My niece Jessie, my brother-in-law Mort Rosenberg, my sister Naomi, my nephew Ethan, my very own self, my mother & my father