Because we shared a birthday cake for most of my life, I feel it only fitting that I put up a post about my mom on what would have been her 87th birthday.
Yesterday, my wife and I stopped at a Chik-Fil-A in Lebanon, TN.
We were enjoying our lunch when one of the employees came over to our table. She asked us if everything was okay. We assured her it was. The name on her employee tag was "Gloria."
Seeing her name got me thinking about my mom. Once I was back on the road, I started thinking about all the friends Mom had.
There were a few who are part of my earliest memories. Judy Klaus, Joyce Able, Penny Castiglia (my sister Peggy's Godmother). A lot of these friends I was taught to call "Aunt" even though they weren't blood relatives.
As I look back I realize these people played a part in my mom's life before I was born. She really cared for them. For those reasons alone they deserved my respect.
No matter where we lived Mom was always friends with our neighbors.
Because she was friends with them, my dad and the rest of the family were usually friends with them too.
I've already mentioned mom's friendship with Bessy Kish in a previous post. Over the years we lived on Green Street, I can remember mom was friends with: Natalie Barron, Lois Deihl (pronounced "Deal"), Judy Brunieo, Ethel Kegly, Ann Walker, Andrea Vaughn, and Clara May Hammerstone. Those were just a few I can remember there were more.
Even after we moved away from "the new projects", Ann Walker, Judy Brunieo, and Lois Deihl remained lifelong friends.
When we moved to Brainard Street my mom became friends with Lynn Van Syckle and Joann Gilbert. Lois Deihl and Judy Brunieo also moved to Brainard Street and their friendship continued.
When I was about 9 or 10, my parents started going to and became active in church. This resulted in my mom making new friends. She became best friends with Carol Casterline.
Mom even made friends with people she met through my social contacts.
When I was in kindergarten I took a liking to a little girl in my class named Vickie Tolerico.
One day, without permission or any adult knowing before hand, I decided to walk home with Vickie instead of going to my house.
Her mother, Lillian, was very surprised to see that her daughter had brought home a little boy. She had to call my mom and let her know I was there. I don't remember getting into much trouble for doing that but I probably got some kind of punishment.
Nevertheless, from that initial contact, the two mothers became friends. Eventually, Lillian and Rex Tolerico became my parents' best friends. More about that a little later.
One summer, when I was a teenager, I helped out a friend of a friend from church, with their Vacation Bible School.
Linda Brazille, whose two young daughters went to the VBS, gave me a ride to the church and back during those two weeks. My mom became friends with Linda.
Gloria Havens was a very social person. My parents, as a couple were very social people.
They loved to play board games and cards with their friends and family members.
As I was growing up there were an uncountable number of nights that my aunts and uncles, cousins, and their friends got together at someone's house to play cards (pinochle, and hearts were their favorites) or Pokeno.
Pokeno is a game similar to Bingo but uses the values of playing cards that are drawn as players try to cover poker hands on their game boards. They made it a little more interesting by playing for money. Don't worry it was only pennies.
I mentioned the Tolericos earlier. Lillian and Rex were the friends that mom & dad played board games with the most.
Both my sister, Shari, and I have memories of playing with their kids, Vicki; Rex the 3rd; and Mary, in their basement while our parents played games at the kitchen table on a Saturday night.
As the years went along and they got more involved with the church, mom and dad's social life involved spending time with fellow members.
As my mom got older and her health declined, especially her ability to walk due to her "bad knees" and her eyesight. She was somewhat limited to what she could do outside of the house.
But that didn't stop her. Her involve-ment as a "social worker" type of friend to some and a close friend type to others.
For Mom, the telephone had always been a means of staying connected with friends. But it was mostly just for conversation.
If my mom was at home, there was a good chance she was on the phone with one of her friends. Most of the time it was with best friend, Carol.
As she got older, the phone became a means for my mom to stay connected with everyone. This was in the days before smartphones and the internet. She just couldn't get around much anymore but she still stayed in touch.
I can only imagine what my mom would do with the social media technology of today. She would be a pro at it.
I have only skimmed the surface when it comes to the pool that was my mother's social life. The friendships I've mentioned are but a fraction of the people whose lives she touched with friendship and service.
Although she's not here, I can truthfully say that my mother's example of extending the hand of friendship and caring about others has been carried forward by my sisters and their families.
As for me? Well, I'm no where near as social nor do I have a whole lot of close friends.
But I am trying to get better. What I want to do in the near future will require me to be social on a level close to that of my mom's. It's a little bit out of my comfort zone.
I am blessed by the fact that, I still have her example to guide me.
Thanks for the legacy, mom. I love you and miss you everyday.