Thursday, April 03, 2008
jen the hen

April 2, 1966. The night my mother died. She was 67 years old and had been struggling with cancer for a number of years. And it didn't help that the kind of cancer that she had went undiagnosed for two years. It was a rare kind of cancer called Paget's Disease: Cancer of the nipple. When it was finally diagnosed, it had already spread to her breast....Right after Thanksgiving of 1963, she had a Radical Mastectomy followed by Radiation and Chemo. By August of 1965 the cancer had returned.....and there were many hospitalizations that followed....the last of these hospitalizations, in late February, 1966. She never left that Hospital until her body was moved to Riverside.

My mothers early life was not an easy one. Her father died suddenly when she was nine years old. He was 45.
This was a terrible blow for her in every way, as it would be to any young child, but for her in particular, it was a disaster, because she lost the only parent that she felt really loved her. Her mother was left with no money and two young children. Those were hard years in every way. And then at 14, she had to leave school and go to work to help make ends meet. This was true for so very many young people in New York City back then......She met my father soon after her father died. He was only nine years old, too, just like her. And like my mother, he had to leave school at 14 and go to work.It is hard to imagine what their lives were like back in those days.....My mother worked as a seamstress for Bergdorf Goodman, which was a very fine women's clothing store in Manhattan---all of the clothes at BG were hand made at that time. There was no ready-to-wear back then. Sewing was a skill she had learned from her mother, who was an expert seamstress, too. Getting jobs back then was not easy, so it was a big thing to have been hired by Bergdorf Goodman.

When my mother was in her early 50's she took the High School Equivalency Test so she could finally get her diploma. She passed and then began college at Columbia University, in the city. My parents had married quite young and stayed married for twenty years---theirs was a very long relationship when you realize that they met at nine years old. I don't think she ever got over this failed relationship....I know she tried to make it work as did my father, in his way. They both went into Psychoanalysis back when it was considered a very radical strange thing to do. In fact, you were kind of considered pretty crazy if you did this, back then....(Oh how times have changed.....lol). It was my mother's interest in this "new" way that brought them both to Karen Horney....a then very famous Analyst....This did not save their marriage. But it did save her. And, in turn, all of us, too. I was ten years old when my parents separated....I'm not sure I ever got over this break-up either. It affected all of us in ways that still reverberate....Amazing, isn't it. All of us went into therapy along the way, too....And my brother actually became a Therapist, much later...A "Family" therapist, to boot! (He just gave a an important paper at this psychoanalytic conference in Portugal, a few days ago....so, the beat goes on.....). This picture above is before 'the fall'....At The Farm, in Pennsylvania.....All the ladies of the house....My Grandmother, (My Mother's Mother, My Mother, My Sister Gene, Me--sitting in front of My Mother, and my sister Robin, in the red sweater....I had lost all my hair from that terrible illness I had and it was still growing back in....Not a very happy looking group.......



These are just some sketchy facts about my mother.....I actually wrote a play about her death back in 1979-80. It started out as a kind of long short story and then somewhere along the way it became clear that it should be a play. It was done at Theatre West, Opening February 13, 1981, with a wonderful cast playing all the parts. In this play I dealt with my struggles with my mother back then when she was dying and in the present, as well....(Well, that 'present'....) So that there were two Naomi's portrayed by two different actresses. Betty Garrett played me in the "now", and Elizabeth Berger played me, back then, as a younger person.....Annie Guilbert played "Jen The Hen"....my mother. This was a kind of fun nickname that my friends and I gave my mother...She was like a 'Mother Hen', and all my friends just adored her.....Seemah Wilder, played my sister Robin, and Pamela Dunlap played my sister Gene with Alan Jordon playing my brother Gordon. I got the best reviews of my life with this play.....

When April 2nd comes around, it is difficult not to acknowledge and remember this special date, you know? Long before my mother actually died, I use to fear the day I would lose her. This picture above was taken backstage at The Belasco Theatre during the run of "Spoon River" in Betty's Dressing Room, by a fan of hers...this was just before my mother had her Mastectomy......


I was sure I would not live through that loss. I would turn 35, almost three months after she died. We had been living with my mothers illness for close to 5 years. Somehow we all got through those last few months.....I know my sister Gene and I were joined at the hip, throughout those last months....And that saved both of us.....! When I think of mother now, I think of all the many great things she taught us and exposed us to....The Theatre....Music....The Movies....Books.....just to name a few important ones that shaped my life. And there were values---deeper values that she instilled in all of us that I am very very grateful for.....a respect and love of all people, no matter the color of their skin or their religion. This shaped my life, too.In many many ways, she was way ahead of her time....Just the idea of going to an analyst alone, was way way ahead of the mainstream, back then.....My play, "Jen The Hen" detailed a lot of my problems and struggles with my mother in a dramatic theatrical way...and I think I was able to put a lot to rest through this process.....It is a wonderful thing when one can make "art" out of one's pain....It is a great thing, really.And I can look back now, most of the time, and remember mostly the good things that my mother gave me. One of the most important was always encouraging me in whatever I was doing. This is the greatest gift you can give your children, I think. Support their choices, even if you aren't sure they can or will succeed----And if you aren't sure, well...keep that to yourself! Cause you never know what someone is capable of doing or accomplishing given the chance to really put their whole heart into whatever it is....my mother gave me that kind of support, and I will always be eternally grateful to her for that.

It is sad that so much of her life after my father left was filled with all kinds of struggles connected to him.....most of them because of being who he was.....I have said this before---These were two people who never should have married and who never should have had children....but, that is not what happened.....She fell in love and in some way, she never fell out of love....And this is why she was so angry with him about almost everything as the years went on. Her expectations about his behavior were always way off. She knew in her mind that he would never be any different, but in her heart, she hoped against hope that somehow he would be different, that he would change...even Karen Horney told her that he would never ever change. But.....but....but.....So, she was always disappointed in him: In his behavior. Always. Especially where we, his children were concerned. He did disappoint each of us, too, of course. We too, hoped he would be different. That he would change. That just this once, he would come through. But he never did. And she rarely asked him for anything after they separated and divorced. In fact, I cannot even remember her asking him for anything until the Summer before she died. She asked him to come see her---she was in the Hospital at the time---it was August of 1965---and though the doctors hadn't said to her that she was going to die, she had this horror of having to depend on any of us, her children, if she lived a very long time and was as invalid.The doctors had told us that she would not live more than six months to a year. They did not tell her that. (I always wondered how they could know these things---I know statistically that was there 'best' guesstimate, and they were right on the money, I'm sorry to say....) Jen The Hen, envisioned a fairly long life as an invalid and wanted to make sure she could take care of herself. That would take money. Money she didn't feel she had. Money that she knew would be a drop in the bucket for him. So, going against her better judgement she asked me to ask him to come see her there at University Hospital, way over on the East Side of Manhattan. This series of pictures were taken in the winter of 1965, just before Christmas. These are the children of dear dear friends of mine, Ruth & Danny Franks (All grown up now, of course...)....from left to right, Susan, Michael & Joshua....My mother was crazy about them and they were crazy about her, too....They had come out to Great Neck to visit her....she was very ill and in a great deal of pain, but she was very very happy to see them.....


I did ask him and he came to the Hospital. He came with his wife. (No, she did not go into the room with him....she sat out in the waiting room with me and if memory serves, my sister Gene and maybe even my brother was there, too......) He went into her room by himself. No one else was there. Just he two of them. It had probably been 25 or 26 years since they had had a one to one "in person" conversation with one another.
And by the way, he knew what the doctors had told us. We told him this information, and the fact that she did not know this information: That she thought she would live for many many years.
None of us will ever know what that conversation was exactly.....but we did know what her intention was---to ask him to help her out financially so that she would not be a burden to any of us.

He had this terrifyingly angry face when he came out of her Hospital Room and into the Visitors Lounge....It was a look we were all familiar with....All he could say was, "She asked me for money.....". He was hurt that she did that. She was deeply hurt because he refused her request. Oil & Water. Her 'hopes' dashed once again....Deep inside her she knew this is what his response would be...But she hoped she would be wrong about this. She took a chance, and lost. (How humiliating was that??)How could he refuse to help her? They had this long long history...They had been married for twenty years.....They had four children together.....They had once been "in love". She was really seriously sick now, and she needed him to come through for her. She was in a way, testing him, and he failed the test. And she lost heart in some horrendously final way. She never got over asking him for help and him refusing it. Never. She said it was the biggest mistake she ever made in her life. Frankly, I think this 'happening'---this one last exchange---hastened her death. Her heart was broken, once again, by him.
All these thoughts flooded over me today, so I put them down on paper on this Anniversary of my mothers death. I cannot believe it is the 42nd Anniversary of her death. I dearly hope she is at peace finally.







More To Come.........







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56 Comments:
had this to say:

I felt tears roll down my cheeks when I read your story. It was sad. That picture of your mother above is so beautiful. There she looks like an angel.

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 2:54:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Oh, such a terrible story - but such a courageous one too. I felt so much for your mother, reading your story - how much she struggled and fought, and was finally defeated in every way - but WASN'T - because of what she passed on to you and to all her children.

I have found in life, too, that no matter how much you may hope and want for something in your heart, if it is not in the person to begin with, you cannot hope and want it into being, no matter how hard or how long you try. I am sorry that your mother carried this with her for so very long.

But you know, when I read "I think of all the many great things she taught us and exposed us to....The Theatre....Music....The Movies....Books.....just to name a few important ones that shaped my life" - that's my mother, too! And to be given a gift as infinite and priceless as that is so special, there are no words than can encompass it.

I think your mother was beyond remarkable, and I am sure she is at peace, she sounds like such a strong, good soul. Thank you for such an honest and beautiful post.

By the way, in that very first picture, she looks a lot like you!!!

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 3:11:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Dear Naomi, I wanted so much so 'cry' when I read this. What a wonderful tribute to your lovey beloved Mother.

You wrote..."One of the most important was always encouraging me in whatever I was doing. This is the greatest gift you can give your children, I think." ... I will always remembered that Naomi. Thank you so much for sharing this with me.

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 5:33:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Thank you for sharing your and her story. To make a play out of it, wonderful. There are many similarities between her desires for your father and my own mother, who never fell out of love with my father and had to ask him for money once. A story I will write one day. I love to hear family stories and see photos, you---your life. A farm in PA to NYC, lessons taught, Naomi.

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 6:24:00 AM PDT 

Blogger Mar
had this to say:

This was a wonderful tribute to your mother, she was a remarkable woman and a pretty lady too... You look a lot like her! I can't find the right words to say so I am just hoping, like you, that she is at peace finally. I am sure she is.

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 6:36:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

(hugs)

You are a very loving person. I've never asked, but is your mom's experience partial in shaping your decision to not marry? Sorry if that question is intrusive, I'm just curious...

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 8:00:00 AM PDT 

Blogger PI
had this to say:

I'm glad you have written about this Naomi' I usually find it to be a healing thing and there is so much pain and hurt and regret to deal with. My heart goes out to your mother. To ask and be refused - in a much lesser way I know how that feels. For it to happen when you are desperately ill must be beyond endurance. I can only hope she took comfort from you and your siblings.

I didn't know you had been very ill as a child. Poor little girl. I wish you had been one of my patients.

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 8:50:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Well, this is a day of rememberence for you. How can you forget something like this? I would bet that we all have our stories and our feelings about our parents.

I think that if I were to die, I would want the doctors to tell me. I would want to put things in order and live out my last days making ammends, loving the best I could and saying goodby. I bet you mom wouldn't have asked your father to come if she had known that she was dying.

My mom was only 57 years old when she died and it happened so fast it would make your head spin. ( I think I was 34 yrs old at the time.) She woke up in the morning and went to the bathroom. On her way back to the bedroom she had a heart attack and died right there. It was such a shock to us all and it took me a while to get over it. I cried my heart out for days.

My dad always said the he hoped that he would go the same way, quick. Of course it didn't happen that way at all. He ended up with a heart attack that didn't kill him and he had to wear an oxygen mask for 18 months before he died. By the time he died, I couldn't cry a tear. I was so happy that the Lord had finally taken him that I just couldn't cry. He will be dead now, 8 years on April 16th.

I loved both of my parents and will always be grateful that they were mine. You are right when you say that they teach us many things. From them I learned how to love, be responsible, be a good citizen and the most of all "the golden rule"; Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Thanks for sharing your story Naomi, it made me look back on the lives of my own parents. I am very blessed to have had them both. Have a good day and know that you have lots of friends that are thinking about you right now.

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 10:21:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi, I forgot to say that I loved all the pictures, especially the one with you and your mom together. I can see the resemblence.

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 10:23:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi
It takes great effort to delve into your personal past and that of your mother -- a personal past that includes pain, anger, disappointment, disbelief -- and share it with us.
I hope that it becomes a catharsis of sorts while being a tribute to this fine woman who figured so importantly in your life, in your emotional and personal make-up.
Thank you for sharing.
May your mother's neshama/soul be at peace, as you wish.
Pearl

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 10:45:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

A big anniversary in your life, my dear.

As my mother once said to me; some people should never be married - and certainly not to each other! With several failed marriages in just two generations, she is probably right....

I do sympathise with you over your mother and the memories, my own mother has some terrible memories of her own, which she shares with me periodically.

We all love your mother - because she gave us you. What better gift and legacy to leave the world?

cq

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 1:05:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I immediately saw the resemblance with you in that first picture of you mom. It's such a sad story though. I don't know how you felt about your father when he turned down your mother's request, but I myself would have been very angry. Sigh.

This story is touching all on it's own, but very much so for me because I've been obsessed with thoughts of my parents passing away, even though they're still relatively young (61 and 67 but not in great health), so I understood what you meant about worrying about your mother before she was even sick.

It's amazing that you were able to turn that into a play, it must have been very cathartic for you. Thanks for sharing this story Naomi.

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 1:44:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

This was beautifully written and shared with us. How fortunate you were to have a mother who truly belived in you and who taught you so many things.

Loved the photos...May this day bring you peace as you remember her and her life.

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 2:43:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Such a sad story. My mom was 69 when she died 7 years ago and I still miss her terribly. I don't think that ever goes away. *hugs* to you

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 3:37:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Wow. I understand the "difficulties" you've metioned before. That's hard to forgive.

Your mother was a brave woman to ask, not for herself or her comfort, but thinking of her children, HIS children, too. Some people get so wrapped up in their money and are afraid people "use" them for it, I guess.
I guess they miss out on a lot, too.

In the end, what will be remember of us? that's what's important.

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 4:21:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

in our heads we know that we cannot change others.. but in our heart we can not give up hope.

it would not do us a good thing if we ever gave up hope... it's a really big part of being a mother.

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 4:51:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

He could have made it possible for her to die happier. Bad scene....

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 6:20:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Very nice tribute to your mom.

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 7:00:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi, I am so sorry that this all happened, and that your father tossed away a perfect opportunity to help your mother die with some degree of serenity about the children.

She was beautiful when she was young.

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 8:39:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a wonderful tribute to your mother Naomi,eerily my own mothers "anniversary" was this week also, April 1st.
She was only 49 and died 3 weeks after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
As the oldest child and the only one capable of dealing with anything it was entirely up to me to organise funerals etc then at 51 only 17 months later Dad died.
I am sure your mother is at peace now and others have said she left us all a great gift in you.

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 9:02:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

dearest naomi - may your memories bring you peace, your story brought me to tears - your love and care so evident. love and hugs to you.

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 9:03:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

((HUGS))

What a tribute to your mother. She would have been terribly proud of you back then and now. And you wort e a play about your mother? How wonderful is that?

I'm sorry your father did what he did. Sometimes it is easier to forgive than to forget. Life has to go on and I have learnt that you have to forgive in your heart to move on in life.

What a post!!

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 10:16:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I've been a little blue since the year hit 2008 thinking how odd it was that this October will be the 10th anniversary of my Dad's death. I never thought beyond that. 20 or 30 or more years of remembering. I guess we never stop missing our departed loved ones, no matter how much time passes. Enjoy the good memories and try not to be sad. I do that because it would make my Dad sad if I were sad because of him. I'm sure your mother would feel the same.

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 11:33:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Your mother sounds like a very inspirational and courageous lady. The photo of her looking so sad is so touching. The disappointment you speak of seems so palpable in it. Disappointment in people you love, along with loss, are two of the hardest things to bear and get over I think. To have so much is so very sad. I cannot begin to understand why your father refused her a last request but then no-one outside a relationship, or even outside a family can really understand these things.

Youe mother was a beautiful, inteligent and compassionate woman. I suspect that as she was such a free thinking spirit she hoped others would be too and such a sensitive soul is very vulnerable to disappointment. This is what I picked up from what you wrote anyway (apologies if I am off the mark).

Friday, April 4, 2008 at 2:19:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi, thanks for sharing this. There is much here which is familiar, at least in regard to my parents' early lives, and in thoughts about my father's death.

Sometimes, because we see our parents a certain way when we are children, we forget they are humans, too. The things they went through and such.

My thoughts are with you.

Friday, April 4, 2008 at 5:47:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Oh Naomi this is such a tragic, very personal, story...it just broke my heart. And to think of all you and your siblings have carried. My mom came from a bizarre "love-hate" parents. Split up, get back together...the kids pay for this. I honestly think maybe 40 to 50 percent of marriages are mistakes and the kids pay for the non-compatibility.

I am also so sorry you were so young to have lost your mother. My thoughts are with you at this time, knowing you are remembering so much pain and emotion. Hugs Dear Naomi.

BTW I can see so much of you in your mother's young picture.

Friday, April 4, 2008 at 6:18:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

So beautiful and moving post about the anniversary of your Mother death, Naomi! Very, very touching homage to your dear Mom. Really I am without words to express what I feel reading your memories...
I love all photos, too. And thank you my dear for sharing your memories.

Friday, April 4, 2008 at 6:34:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

A beautiful and touchingly written tribute to your mother, Naomi!

Kudos to you for being able to write about it, put it into book/play form and have it produced on a stage. What a rush!

I'm sure you have heard often over the years that you look like your mother. Sometimes daughters don't like to be compared that way due to ambivalent feelings of long ago. But in your case, I would consider it a great compliment.

As parents go, I guess we all have a story to tell - some good, some bad - but you have the ability to look back from where you sit now and praise each for their gifts that they gave you.

I'm thankful to have met you and for a glimpse into your early life.

Love, Anne

Friday, April 4, 2008 at 9:26:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What a lovely remembrance about your dear Mother Naomi. You write so well. I have tears in my eyes reading this. It's so sad that your Dad let her down at the end like that, and him knowing that she was probably going to die. So very sad.

She was a dear lady and obviously such a wonderful mother! How precious you are to have had her!!
Big hugs to you!!

Friday, April 4, 2008 at 9:47:00 AM PDT 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

My heart ached so for you and for your mother reading this post because I'm all too familiar with her pain....not in relation to my parents loving marriage but with the terrible disappointment at the end of my own 26 year marriage. My story is not like hers but the heartbreak she knew is the same.

.

Friday, April 4, 2008 at 11:36:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What a wonderful meme to your Mom Naomi - well more than a meme; like a history book - so well written, so well documented. Very faschinating - thanks for sharing.

I was to young to try, but I've also heard about Psychoanalysis and their critics says 'it like a blind man, looking in a dark room, after a black cat, who is not there'.

I wish you a lovely weekend dear friend!

Friday, April 4, 2008 at 12:45:00 PM PDT 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

Your mother was not only stunning to look at on the outside, but also on the inside. What a very special woman she was.
I felt like I was reading a novella or short story here,Naomi, and I mean that in a complimentary way. I can't but feel after reading her story that sometimes, love just isn't enough.
I must say, knowing you as I do.....the best part of your mother shines on in you. And what a lovely tribute to her all these years later. Memories are so important. It'll be 5 years April 10 that my dad has been gone and I've been preparing a blog entry in my mind.
Terri
http://www.islandwriter.net

Friday, April 4, 2008 at 1:23:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi- I was so moved by this post, really. It is a story of personal courage and strength on many levels. I'm glad you have presented this to share with the world, preserved for future generations to understand. Thanks for opening up in this manner.
rick

Friday, April 4, 2008 at 5:02:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Once again Naomi, you have led a fascinating, though perhaps not always charmed life. Your description of your mothers dedication and strength reminds me of my mother and even more so, her mother who also died of cancer relatively young.

I must apologize here, in a public forum, for not visiting and more importantly commenting here as much as I used to. You are among a handful of early visitors to my blog and have been with me throughout the two plus years I have been blogging. It is incumbent upon me to remember where I came from and who helped me get where I am today.

Thank you for not pulling any punches.

Mike

Friday, April 4, 2008 at 6:12:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Your mother must have been a very special lady. And you too are a special lady to be able to write such a moving tribute to her.
She would be very proud of you, Naomi, just as you are obviously very proud of her.

Friday, April 4, 2008 at 7:02:00 PM PDT 

Blogger b13
had this to say:

This is a wonderful tribute to your mother. The ups and downs of life mold us into who we are and what we can accomplish. I haven't known you very long but have learned that you have accomplished much to be proud of. Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us.

Friday, April 4, 2008 at 10:07:00 PM PDT 

Anonymous the fat lady
had this to say:

One of the most wondrous things about Pearly Gates Estates is that everyone is as you wish them to be.

Close your eyes for a moment and you'll see your mother and father.

Jen waltzes with her Joe in one of those Bergdorf-Goodman gowns (that some other young seamstress has crafted.) He is attentive, loyal, kind and a prince in every way. She is estatic at everything he does for her. They live "where never is heard a discouraging word".

She is in a place where all her fondest dreams have come true, but you have kept her alive for us here on earth.

Bravo, Naomi, for your tribute.
Best Wishes, Jen, on the anniversary of your relocation to Pearly Gates Estates!

Saturday, April 5, 2008 at 1:28:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi,
I have never ever read a more honest and moving post. So emotional, my tears just "splashed" out.
I now see why you are so wise and kind and giving and caring.

I would vote for this post as
THE BLOGPOST OF THE YEAR 2008 AWARD


hugs
Tor

Saturday, April 5, 2008 at 5:20:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

what a beautiful post of your memories. One of the sad facts of life, I now believe, is that no one involved in divorce ever gets over it.It affects the rest of your life. I am divorced and it was unthinkable that I would do that to my children - but I had no choice. Even though I am remarried - it never goes away.

Saturday, April 5, 2008 at 7:23:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I would've loved to have seen your play, "Jen the Hen." After reading this, it's a shame it can't be reenacted.

This is an incredibly moving story about a woman of hope and courage, your mother. You told her story beautifully, and I love the photos you included. Your mom was a beautiful woman.

I don't think it was a mistake that she loved your father; the mistake was the way he responded to her. He could've been a lot kinder to the woman he met at 9, the mother of his beautiful children and the cancer patient that wouldn't be with him for much longer. It never ceases to amaze me how a man can let go of his feelings and act this way after a marriage of many years comes to an end. I don't think women let go so easily.

Again, this was a beautiful post, Naomi. Thanks for sharing.

Saturday, April 5, 2008 at 7:55:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Thank you for telling the story. Saying I enjoyed it sounds crass but I love reading about other families and their memories.

Saturday, April 5, 2008 at 8:41:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Such beautiful pictures of your mother--and yes, there is a strong family resemblance! How sad that your parents couldn't have had a bit of a coming together at the end and how disappointing that your dad, knowing she wasn't going to live very long, didn't agree to her request since he knew it would never even be needed. Ah well, we can never really know what goes on between two people. But it's certainly sad. My parents had one of the ugliest divorces on record yet years later, when my mother was dying of lung cancer, they had some very sweet talks and he even spoke at her funeral.

Naomi, is there any way Theatre West would do a revival of "Jen the Hen?" I simply MUST see it. Maybe Betty and Seemah could still be in it! Did you ever consider acting in it yourself, or would that have been too much for you?

Today would have been my grandmother's 98th birthday so I'm also in a wistful mood, thinking of the long-ago past.

Saturday, April 5, 2008 at 11:36:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Thank you for such a wonderful post. I loved all the pictues you have of your family and the actors, and all. What wonderful items to have, to help remember those who are in the past.

Here from Michele

Saturday, April 5, 2008 at 1:14:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

This was so heart wrenching to read. I could, in a small way, feel your mother's pain. I also felt anger towards your dad for being cold and cruel.
I noticed how much you and your mom look alike.
Her younger pictures are where I really saw the resemblance. I hate that she endured so much emotional pain, and then physical pain. I wish your dad would have shown her some loving compassion simply because she was his wife for those years and simply because she bore him four children. I guess he did not see the value in those things and people. It is very sad that his lack of heart caused so many people in his life so much pain.
I know you've shared much of this story before, but I thank you for sharing it again in honor of your mom's memory. I believe writing about it even now is therapy for you, just as the play was.
I'm in GA, and doing some blogging after a long day in Savannah. We had a nice day, but boy are we all pooped!! It was rainy and very humid.
It feels nice to be in the air conditioned hotel for a rest.

Saturday, April 5, 2008 at 5:26:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I was pulled right into your compelling story and the photos you shared here Naomi....

I just kept thinking about how much i would have loved to have met your Mom. She truly was ahead of her time.

I would also loved to have seen your play too.....did your siblings see it? What was their impression of it?

My mother too lost her father when she was 9 and he was 45. My grandmother was also a seamstress. :) Though my grandmother remarried when I was about 5 years old, she never ever got over the loss of the love of her life......and neither has my Mom.

Saturday, April 5, 2008 at 5:40:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Christine said it for me in her comment.

You have such a vivid way of describing things. And with the pictures? It was easy to imagine the scene in the hospital between your mother and father.

Saturday, April 5, 2008 at 6:03:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi, I came here by way of Toronto Pearl...what a beautiful expression of your mother's story. My dad died 42 years ago at the age of 41. It seems no amount of time can change the pain that is felt deep in our heart when someone special dies. Thank you for so bravely sharing this story.

Saturday, April 5, 2008 at 10:55:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

My god, how could someone so comfortably wealthy refuse a dying request like that? Your mom was such a strong woman, but also very humble. I can definitely see her in you, meaning your characteristics, generosity & tolerance of others. You are your mother's daughter. :)

My cousin that died of breast cancer told me (in 2007) that they've discovered breast cancer starts in the milk ducts. I haven't researched that, but reading about your mom's situation, I may do some reading on it.

Thank you for sharing this.

Sunday, April 6, 2008 at 1:21:00 AM PDT 

Blogger Bud
had this to say:

A beautifully moving tribute to your mom.She would be so proud of you.

Sunday, April 6, 2008 at 2:46:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What a beautiful tribute to your mother. Touching, interesting beyond words and lovingly written.

I love reading all of your stories. ALL of them.

And the photos are fantastic.

Sunday, April 6, 2008 at 6:12:00 AM PDT 

Blogger rpm
had this to say:

Naomi, your life has so many layers and what a wonderful thing that you are writing these memories down. Your mom was so strong and that's so disheartening that he turned her request down at the end. I love seeing the pictures of your mom.

My grandmother and grandfather divorced when my mom was very little and I don't think my grandmother ever asked him for anything and i don't think he ever provided anything for them after he left. My grandmother never remarried. Women are so strong to raise their children without help.

Monday, April 7, 2008 at 6:08:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I wonder if he ever regretted it and why, after knowing she wasn't going to live much more than 6 months, he couldn't have just said YES. In a way I'm sorry she asked him but I do think it was about way more than the money. Would he be there for her finally? So sad.

I'm glad I caught this post. I enjoyed the whole read. xo

Tuesday, April 8, 2008 at 7:07:00 AM PDT 

Blogger VV
had this to say:

Wow, what a deeply moving story in so many ways. In one way, it's so sad that he failed her and his children repeatedly. He was never worthy of her love. In another way, I see her love for him as the greatest gift he could ever receive. She kept expecting the best from him, and in the end, I believe he lost more than she did. Loving someone is not wrong, even if they disappoint you. I also believe we've all lived many lives, and she kept trying to elevate him and he continually refused. She gave him one last chance to rise to the occasion. He did not. Now she need never waste her energy on him again in any future lives.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at 10:51:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

My heart aches for her. It is so tragic to love someone who inexplicably cannot and will not be there for you. I hope she is at peace now, too, Naomi...

Friday, April 11, 2008 at 2:43:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Very sweet Naomi.
Disappointment of parents... such a hard thing to ever resolve internally.
~S

Monday, April 14, 2008 at 6:09:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

amen. that story moved me. insha-Allah she is in a good place now.

Saturday, April 19, 2008 at 1:32:00 AM PDT 

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