Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Mari’s Last Friday

RCT Staff

Those of you who wander this blog from time to time know I volunteer my photography skills regularly to Rochester Civic Theatre. And I’ve done so for, well, let’s say a few years. A theatre like this becomes something of a family. I’ve become friends with many who also volunteer – as actors, musicians, crew, set builders, etc. – and also theatre staff, current and past.

Folks come together from all over, with varied backgrounds, and work to bring performance art to the community and make it the very best they can. It’s very rewarding and fun, and I encourage everyone to become involved.

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Friday nights during the summer, RCT has their free patio concerts. Last Friday was the final one of the 2015 summer. Sad to see summer come to an end, and this was yet another sign that autumn will be on its way soon. But it was sad for a different reason. A family reason.

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Mari has been a rock of sanity and calm at RCT for several years. She’s been the go-to person for me. Headshots go to Mari for the program. Questions about this or that? I contact Mari. She’s been a stage manager. She’s been on stage. She’s at many of the events we attend.

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Mari came to us from Japan. Her cultural background was very different from the typical American’s making for countless discussions. Yet I think she’d say she’d become American in many ways. All the best ways.

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Mari’s visa was finally set to expire with no more possible extensions. So, this weekend she headed back to her homeland to start the next part of her life. Back in Japan.

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And those of us here begin the next part of our life. Life far from Mari. A life without her joy so easily accessible. And we thank the technological times in which we live, knowing she’ll be closer than she’d have been just few years ago.

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I took my Canon cameras to the event Friday. I was asked to shoot some video of a few special comments and song. And, I wandered around to capture some moments in stills as Mari said goodbye for now to many of her American friends. So glad I did.

I wanted to put together a post with some of the shots and to honor Mari and the impact she’s had on so many of us. But, to be truthful, it’s hard to find words that do it justice.

We love you, Mari! Japan had better treat you well. Keep in touch, and we will see you again!

Cousin Ron – Remembering

I come from a family of two children, my sister and me. Grace and I got along pretty well as brother and sister (except maybe that time I needed stitches…), but she was several years my senior. She was six years ahead of me in school, started college and moved out of the house in the late ’60s before I started high school.

In our extended Italian family, most of mom’s siblings had few children. Sort of odd for an Italian family, but that’s how it was. Uncle Mike was the exception. But mom was nearly the youngest of her siblings and my folks were older parents, so I actually had no first cousins my age. In fact, there were children of my first cousins older than me. But my cousin Ron was only three years older than me. He was the only child of my mom’s sister Mary. We spent a lot of time at Aunt Mary’s house and with her family at our house. Ron and I got along great, and looking back, we were in many ways like what I imagine brothers are like.

I looked forward to visiting with Ron (back then, he was Ronny – oh, and I was Anthony!). I never really considered that he was so much older than me but didn’t seem to mind hanging out with me. When you’re 6 or 7, three years is a lot.

When my parents passed, I did some sorting through old photos. There are many more to go through, but I brought a few home. Looking through them yesterday, it struck me how there are snapshots of events, and there’s Ron, often beside me.

Usually with a smile on his face – happy to be there. Happy to be with me.

Ron introduced me to comic books. He always had an assortment at his home that he let me read. Mom never bought me a comic book – dad probably thought they weren’t great reading for his son. Or maybe I just didn’t ask. But Ron had all the classics and knew them well. This was the era of the Batman TV show which we both disliked. I think we were too young to understand the tongue-in-cheek campiness of the show. Years later when I saw the Batman movie (the original cast one, not one of the newer serious movies), I was rolling on the floor laughing at lines like, “Hand me the bat-shark repellent, Robin!” Ron was there watching it with me.

We moved into a new development in 1960 on the far-north border of Columbus. As in, there were farm fields from our house north. Morse Road, for those who know Columbus, was a two-lane road, and there was an old airport just off Morse. Ron once told me about going into the airport buildings and finding a very old Coke machine with some rather sketchy bottles of Coke still in it.

As they began expanding the subdivision northward, we had a great place to explore. Houses under construction. Scrap wood to haul home. I think it was scrap. A bulldozer to play in. Or maybe, a bulldozer to start up. I vaguely remember we were shocked that the engine started and took off home. Like I said, we found mischief like I suspect brothers do.

We got older and interests changed. But Ron and I remained pretty close. My elementary school was grades 1 through 8, and high school was 9 through 12. I played football in 7th grade, pleasing my sports-loving father. But our “league” had a weight limit – 125 lbs. I barely made the cut-off, and for one game, I wasn’t allowed to play. By eighth grade, there was no way I’d be anywhere near 125 lbs. I was nearly the size I am now. The coach’s son, on the other hand, was a more typical size (tiny in my view at the time!). So there was no way he was going to move us to a bigger league. What to do.

I’d been taking drum lessons for a few years, looking forward to marching and concert bands in high school. Ron was in the band – he was a HS Junior then, and suggested why don’t I come by for a practice and see if the band director would let me play. We had a small school and a small band, so yeah, I could play. The snares were all taken, but there was an extra set of cymbals. So I joined the band in 8th grade and would spend 5 years playing – a wonderful part of my life. And it was Ron who got me there.

I got to spend two of those years with Ron in the band. We didn’t have a real home field then, so we played games at one or the other of the two local public high schools. We had to find our own transportation. Dad took me sometimes, but luckily Ron was driving by then. He had basically exclusive use of his father’s 1964 Dodge Dart. Ah, the Dart!

There was the time we were driving to one of those high schools, Northland HS. Northland HS is situated sort of in the middle of a housing development. We were on our way there and trying to remember which road do we turn on. They look a lot alike. Wrong choice – cul-de-sac. We got to the end and did the u-turn in the circle at the end of the road. As we reversed direction, there was a line of cars leading all the way back to the intersection. For some reason, they had all followed us! It was strange, but something I remember.

At the time, the Columbus outer belt, I-270, was under construction. There was a completed section at our end of town that went from High Street in Worthington to Cleveland Ave near Westerville. About 4 miles. That should be enough to get the Dart to 100 miles per hour. If we drove east, with the wind. It was, but not by a lot.

There was some road up north, near the reservoir, where Ron knew if you hit this hill going fast enough, you could get air. It was fun, so we’d do it repeatedly. Then we’d head to some pizza joint he knew about where the owner would fix an extra cheese pizza that had a ton of cheese. I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else. We’d play pinball or just talk.

After the football games, many of the band members would head out for pizza and pop. There were two or three places we’d frequent. One night, we decided on the place on Indianola Rd. I don’t remember the name, but it was near Cooke. When we got there, we had a decent size crowd, but there was some problem. I think it might have been closed for some reason, but we just couldn’t stay there. But many of the kids had been dropped off. There weren’t enough cars and those that were there started heading out (to our favorite, Fortes on Cleveland Ave.).

Ron had the Dart, and I was riding shotgun. He looks around and says, I think we’ll fit! So we start piling in. And piling in. And piling in. Way more people sitting on the seats than the seats were meant to hold. Then more people laying on top of the seated people. Or at their feet, or behind their heads. Wherever.

We disagree about the count. I remember the total being 11. Ron swears it was 13. In a 1964 Dodge Dart. I already mentioned that I was adult size already. Ron was big. I don’t think the remaining 9 or 11 averaged out to tiny. Ron remembered someone’s head was under his arm. Yeah, that was me. We drove down Morse Rd (the wider version close to what’s there now). It was fairly late and traffic then was light that time of night. There was a red light ahead and stopped at the light was a police car! What to do? Do we drive up next to it like there’s nothing odd and take a chance of him looking over at the car, window-to-window with bodies? Or do we stop 100 feet back. That can’t be good.

Ron slowed way down, didn’t stop, but we were discussing it all the way. Then the light turned green and the cruiser took off. Whew! We made it to Fortes in one piece. But that’s an experience I will never forget.

There was the time Ron called and asked if I wanted to play football. I’d ride my bike the 3 miles to a park near his house. We’d play tackle football, Ron and a bunch of his friends, and me – the kid. Oh yeah, no helmets, no pads. I likely had a concussion at one of these events when I was airborne and landed on my head. But I road my bike back home, happy to have had some fun playing football.

After Ron graduated, we spent a lot less time together, mostly only at family gatherings. Thanksgiving was always at our house. Christmas was at Aunt Erma’s. I did college, my skydiving thing, then graduated and left Columbus. I returned to serve as an usher for Ron’s wedding, but we only saw each other on and off over the years. Somehow, when we got together, we always had something to talk about. I’m not sure how that worked, but I guess brothers are sort of like that.

One of the hallmarks of our Italian family was food. We loved food. We loved to eat. A downside to this was diabetes. It took my grandmother and has afflicted many in my family. Yesterday, it took my cousin Ron from us. His life these past few years has probably not been the best, but he still seemed pretty up beat considering, even when I saw him last summer after dad’s funeral.

As I sat and thought about the stories I can remember, I was amazed how many came to mind. Not just the packed Dart, although that one pops in my head first. And I’m amazed how kind he was to a young kid. But I was his cousin. I was family. And that meant a lot to Ron. I’ll miss you, cousin.

2011 Year at a Close

Two-thousand eleven is nearly done. I guess I’d say it’s been a very full year with its ups and downs like any other year. It’s been a great year for my photography, and I know I’ve grown as a photographer. Whatever we do, growing and improving should always be a goal. There is always something new, something we haven’t thought of before, or an angle or perspective we’ve not explored.

Kem was my most recent subject, a totally enjoyable shoot with many different poses, many different shots, lots of moving around of lights. Lynne was a huge help. I posted this shot on my Facebook page, too. While this wasn’t exactly what we were after (we were shooting full-length and 3/4 shots), it was there in my set of photos waiting to be seen. We knew her expression in this shot was great and it would be one of our final picks, but making it into a close-up wasn’t expected.

The year started off with a wonderful winter trip to Yosemite, my first visit to that wonderful National Park. I think it would be difficult for anyone with any reasonable skill at photography to not come away with several great photos. There are great photos everywhere. We went up to Tunnel View to shoot the valley as the sun set. We also had a full moon rising which made for a spectacular scene. With my camera on a tripod, I was shooting different photos and playing with some HDR exposures and some panorama shots, but at one point I noticed the colors on the LCD display.

The magenta was unexpected, and I looked up – naked eyed – to see that, yes, the sky really was magenta. It’s way too easy to become lost in the viewfinder and miss what’s actually around you. A good lesson, and I captured a good photograph, too.

I again attended Photoshop World in Vegas this year. As my skills improve and change, I find myself attending classes with different topics, looking for insights and inspiration to expand my boundaries. I’ll hopefully attend some other workshop or classes this year, but I’m still searching for the right one.

I continued to volunteer at Rochester Civic Theatre, mainly via my photography but occasionally working backstage or helping install some IT gear. I already have the list of shows for next season, and I’ve started – barely – on the posters to be unveiled in April. I’ve been shooting the show photos and head shots for several years now, but it’s still fun and still brings something new with each show. I’m thinking Chicago this spring will have a lot of the cool lighting I like.

I’ve also had an opportunity to shoot shows in Austin, MN at Riverland Community College. Besides the enjoyment of photographing a show, I’ve seen a couple shows for the first time.

I’ve had other interesting projects. I finally shot my The Elements personal project. I’m thinking of some other possibilities for the future, trying my hand at other abstract ideas. And I recently was able to shoot some cool sports shots. Have I mentioned how much I like creative lighting?

And in 2011, my sister and I lost our father. He lived a full and very long life, suffered with dementia for several years. So, while his passing wasn’t exactly a surprise, the timing, so soon after mom’s passing, wasn’t the best. What is the best?

But as the year closes, I begin a new journey of sorts, transcribing the box of letters mom wrote to dad when he was in Asia during WW II. Like photography, it’s a way of preserving some moments for the future. She wrote him every day, so there are many, many letters. Wish me luck.

I want to wish you and your family and friends all the best in 2012. Let’s hope for a safer and more peaceful world.

The Elements – A Personal Project

About this time last year, I had the idea to depict the four classic elements photographically. My first thought was to use actual images of fire, water, earth, and air, arrange them somehow creatively, maybe do some interesting post-processing.

After thinking about it briefly, I decided it would be interesting, but it would not be all that compelling. Other than placing them together in some arrangement, there would be nothing visually tying them to one another. And, it would not be much of a stretch for me. Working on a personal project should stretch my creativity and my skills.

Instead, I had this crazy idea to use human subjects and light to evoke the elements without explicity showing them. It would be abstract and force me to think and create.

In time, I started sketching forms on paper. Some came to me easier than others. I think Fire was the first one. Air stumped me for a while. Not surprising since air is itself, not visual. But I had some decent ideas, I thought.

Then, I stashed away my sketches and moved on with the many things that life has presented over the past year. In the back of my mind, I still had this project mulling around. Would I ever get off my duff and move it forward?

At some point, I decided having dancers as my models would be ideal. Dancers are used to creating images with their bodies and movement and would be more likely to hold the positions I wanted while I stumble around with my gear. Fortunately, Lynne and I know some dancers from our association with the theatre.

This summer, I finally started putting out feelers. Would you be interested in modeling for me for this crazy project I’m doing? Who do you know who could help? I had two dancers, Missy and Morgan, who were interested right away. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to make the date I eventually set. They would have been great – and I may ask them again if I decide to do something like this in the future.

I knew some of the dancers would be leaving for college, so I bit the bullet and set a date. It was going to actually happen! I pulled out my sketches and redrew them, this time planning out the lighting in more detail. On the day of the shoot, I had Tony Carlson, Ben Parrish, Julie Benirschke, Katie House, and Britta Logdahl. The were a terrific group to work with.

After the shoot, it was time to complete the images in Photoshop. I wanted to use the models and the lighting as I shot it and just expand on those elements. I refrained from doing too much in post. In the end, I wanted the focus to be my beautiful subjects and their forms.

I feel good with the outcome. It was a lot of fun from the early planning to the final edits. Photography is a wonderful art with so many opportunities to create.

Bob Drumm – a memorial

Dad was born in 1915, the second son of young couple in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father, William DeGroff, a descendant of French Canadians (I’ve been told), died soon after. His mother remarried to Robert Wethington, had another son, was widowed once again, then married for a third time to Lilburn Richards. She had two more sons with Lilburn.

I mention all this because my dad’s childhood was very much affected by the life and times of his mother and her family. When still just a young boy, his mother’s childless sister took Bob in and raised him as her own. She was married to Clarence Drumm. I’ll probably never know the real facts regarding whether he was sent to the Drumms or they took him. The latter seems to be the prevailing story, but Clarence and his wife Myrtle were mom and dad for Bob. He officially changed his name as a young adult.

He didn’t break ties with his birth mother. We have a couple photos of her with all five of her boys taken some time in the early 1930s judging by his apparent age. While I was growing up, we kept in touch with his two oldest brothers who lived in Cincinnati. We’d meet “half way” between Columbus and Cincinnati, usually at a state park, for a family reunion nearly every year. My uncles Billy and James I barely know. But when dad, Billy, and James were all together once, I realized their mother had very strong genes. All five of the boys had a resemblance despite having three different fathers. Very strong. Spittin’ image strong.

Dad moved around a lot spending time in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and eventually in Columbus. He said he attended 15 schools before he finished high school. He attended Columbus Central High School, I think for his entire high school years. It’s now the Center of Science and Industry building right in downtown. There, he was attracted to a small Italian girl named Mamie. He’d sit behind her in an auditorium and toss peanuts at her. She’d become the love of his life.

Dad was an athlete. In high school, he was the football team’s quarterback. This was the era of minimal pads and leather helmets. It was a tough game then, and he loved it. Dad considered football a thinking man’s game, full of strategy. He’d tell me about the cleats they wore, with long mud cleats for rainy days. Things that we’d worry about causing injuries today.

In the football off-season, dad wrestled and ran track. He always insisted wrestling was the ultimate fighting form again emphasizing the thinking aspect. In his wrestling career which included wrestling many years later in the Army, he was never pinned. Never. He was immensely proud of that. He’d been beaten, but never by a pin.

My favorite story concerning his athletic career, though, has to be the state meet he attended while in high school. One of his favorite events was hurdles. He claims no one beat him off the line, and “no one” includes a quick young man he raced against who would go on to Olympic fame – Jesse Owens. Dad says he beat Jesse off the line, but as he crossed the last hurdle, Owens was crossing the finish line. I love this story.

Dad and mom would remain together through the difficult years of the depression. They put off marriage because of it. Dad worked for a time in New Jersey for White Castle, when they still made hamburgers by hand. He worked for Roosevelt’s WPA building streets. He later landed a job at Timken Roller Bearing Co and soon after, Bob and Mamie were married. They would spend over 71 years together.

Having children proved troublesome, and meanwhile, a new world war raged. Dad was older than the kids being drafted, but as the war continued, older and older young men were called to service. Dad was drafted into the army, and after training for Signal Corps, was sent to the Pacific theater. There, he traveled through India, Burma, and China. He spent time on the Burma Road, climbed mountains of the Himalayas, but generally, and thankfully, avoided action.

He disliked the military, but he loved to travel, to see other places and cultures. Dad was not quiet about the war and would talk at length about it, recounting story after story. He’d talk about the ship journeys to and from Asia, about having to backtrack around the Philippines on the way home due to a typhoon. Dad talked about making his way into a camp where some officer blasted him about not saluting properly. Dad told the fellow, you go spend three months in the jungle and we’ll see how you salute. Dad was a quiet man, but he had attitude and you could provoke a reaction.

After the war, dad and mom were finally able to have kids – two of us. But it wasn’t easy and there were miscarriages along the way. During this time, dad decided he needed more than a high school education. He attended a technical school where a teacher told him, you should go to Ohio State. You’d do well there. He, and I’m sure mom, made this decision – he’d attend OSU at night while keeping his full-time day job to support the family. It was tough, but dad was always strong and motivated. A year after I was born, he graduated. With other possible jobs looming, he was given a promotion at Timken. Less pay, but better potential. It’s a lesson he’d give me so often – make your life choices with your eye on the future.

Dad’s love of the outdoors, of traveling, continued. Carefully managing their finances, thanks in no small part to mom, we began taking vacations. First to nearby places, then to some of our wonderful National Parks. In 1968, we did our biggest yet – two full weeks! My sister, approaching high school graduation and college, would no longer join us on these trips. Like so many other families in the 60s, we rented a camper, attached it to the car, and drove from Ohio to Colorado. I had my little Kodak Instamatic that I’ve discussed here before, and I did my best to document the trip.

We’d later visit the Grand Canyon, making our way to California on the fledgling interstates, where they existed. Dad loved the mountains and the scenery. In his retirement, he organized trips for the senior group they belonged to. Dad and mom would travel to Hawaii (mom’s first time in a plane). They’d visit World’s Fairs.

Like many folks in Columbus, dad was a Buckeye fan long before he attended OSU. There are stories about him hopping the fence to see a game, for instance. Mom and dad would buy season tickets for as far back as I can remember. I went to many games with dad as a kid, watching Woody Hayes and his team. We’d usually sit in B deck which is covered by C deck and out of the rain – mom preferred that! But there are posts, so you might miss a few plays. Yet, when the rain started, it seemed like a good plan.

I attended the last three home games against Michigan for which they had season tickets. It was fun to go, especially when we’d win! But dad was becoming forgetful. He’d forget where he parked at the airport when he came for me. He’d forget the story he told me 15 minutes earlier and tell it again. Hearing loss would add to the mix and make it increasingly difficult to converse in any meaningful way.

His mind, while having problems with memory, remained sharp in other ways. He’d go to the neurologist who’d ask him to count backwards from 100 by 7s. She’d tell mom she never saw anyone do it so quickly. He always enjoyed math, enjoyed learning math tricks. He loved puns and wordplay, something my sister and I share. He felt an education was more important than practically anything else. Somehow, it was fitting that his brain would hold on to those things.

Someone told me dementia is sometimes called the long goodbye. It is. Dad sort of faded away. Lost touch and pulled inward making me wonder just what is really going on inside. Then, he’d hear something and make a funny comment or say something that just seemed so appropriate, and I’d think, yes, he’s still in there somewhere.

For Christmas 2006, my sister Grace suggested we get the family together and go some place warm. Her daughter, Claire, lives in Florida so Florida became our destination. We rented a house and had all our immediate family there. It was something very special. Both my parents were mobile, mom could cook, dad could see the ocean, walk on the beach, sit next to his niece on the sand.

Dad left us to be with Mamie on June 21. He was done here. He gave his children the gift of life, a passion for learning, and a proud heritage. I would be happy to do half as much.

Mamie Drumm – a memorial

In the late 1800s, two Italian immigrants to the US met and in 1901 they married. They lived in Roseto, PA named after their home town in Italy. Work took them to Columbus, Ohio along with many other Italians. There, they raised their family. Born in 1917, was little “Baby Rogers” who they called Mamie. She was the youngest female of the six children who survived to adulthood with only Danny being younger.

Mamie was always proud of her Italian heritage. Things were done the “Italian” way or the “American” way. Never mind that she was as American as any other native-born citizen.

She attended high school at Columbus Central High, and if I remember this right, she was the only one of the six kids who graduated from high school. At Central, she met Bob, an athlete through and through. He was the football quarterback, the track star, the wrestler who, through his career, was never pinned. He became the love of her life. They stuck together through the Great Depression, waiting until jobs and income were sufficient to support themselves as husband and wife.

Although he was 26 years old, Bob was drafted into the Army to serve in the signal corps in the Pacific theater of World War II. He spent two years in the Pacific while Mamie managed the household alone. She took a factory job like millions of her female peers. They wrote to each other constantly.

Their early lives together were not easy. But Mamie had been a strong child and became a strong adult. She could take control of a situation and knew how things were to be done. She was a good cook who knew how to make all the staple Italian foods. She had done much of the cooking for her family as her mother began to suffer the symptoms of diabetes, and brought those skills to her marriage. But she was not afraid to branch out, try new recipes, make them her own.

Her mother-in-law made fabulous pies that Bob loved. Pies were not something she had had growing up, but she learned to make them in spite of her mother-in-law’s reluctance to show her how. Pies became her trademark, the culinary wonder that everyone who tasted them would crave. People fought over her pies at bake sales. They made sure they were there to claim the pies before the sale even began.

Pies became my favorite dessert. I judge the quality of a pastry chef’s pie by comparing a cherry pie to Mom’s. Few make the grade.

Over the years, Mamie had several pregnancies but only two children. Illness would always spook her, and I think she always feared losing a child. Tradition was strong in Mamie, but somehow she expanded herself beyond the norm. This began, no doubt, by falling in love with and marrying a fellow who was in no way Italian. French, German, Irish – she called his heritage “League of Nations.”

She adapted to the new ways of doing things to spring from the 1950s. No more coal fired furnace. A refrigerator in place of the ice box. A washing machine without wringers. She wasn’t afraid to use convenience foods, and in the early 1960s, she left the house to work in retail, earning money she could use to put her kids through college. With Bob going back to school to get a degree in Physics and her two children eventually earning advanced degrees, she’d refer to herself as the “dummy” in the family. We all knew this was not close to true.

Mamie had an incredible mind and the most gifted memory I’ve ever known. She knew the birthday, marriage dates, relationships, children of children of relatives I didn’t know I had. It was truly incredible. Dates and places – she’d recall without a second thought.

She managed the family finances, kept a budget scrupulously. I always figured it came from living through the depression, but I don’t know others who managed things so well.

Aside from her miscarriages, Mamie had more than her share of physical ailments. I could never count all the many operations she had. And several happened in an age when, frankly, surgery was still pretty iffy. But notwithstanding physical issues, she had an incredible strength. These problems were not going to stop her and barely slow her down. If the house needed cleaning, by God, she was going to clean it.

And her own ills did not interfere with her providing assistance to others. One of her sisters is sick, she’d do her laundry. She’d clean her house. It was expected – it’s just how things were done. Someone comes over to visit from out of town? You give up your bed for the guest.

Her kids didn’t always follow the path she expected. Her daughter attended marches protesting the war in Vietnam. Her son took up skydiving as a weekly activity. Both left Columbus and her, to stake out their own lives. She missed us, but understood.

Whatever we needed to do, no matter how she felt about it, was okay. Accepted. Of all the lessons we learned from Mamie, acceptance and unconditional love were the most important. The world could learn so much from her.

Mamie was proud of what her children had become and what they had done with their lives. Her children trumped everything else.

In 2006, my sister Grace suggested we get the whole family together for a Christmas in Florida. It was a great idea and terrific Christmas. Living in upstate New York and then in Minnesota, I spent the holidays at home with my family. The one year we drove to Ohio for a surprise visit for Thanksgiving, we hit a snow storm along Lake Eire that reminded us why we didn’t travel for the holidays. So, gathering with the Drumms for Christmas was special.

And walking on the beach at Christmas time is a fun break from the nearly inevitable white Christmases we have here. Mom and Dad, around 90 years old then, were still quite mobile, and I think they enjoyed us all being together a lot. Especially Mom.

The past few months have been rough. When you are in your nineties, little things add up and your body just can’t deal with problems like it once did. The hospital visits suddenly became frequent, and recovery less successful. When I saw Mom in July, she looked okay but was using the walker regularly. In August, we had to move them to be closer to one of us. Mom had never before lived outside of Columbus.

Her health continued to suffer, but her strength – perhaps stubbornness – prevailed again and again. I think she amazed many of the caregivers who provided assistance. In the end, she waited until she was doing better, done being in a hospital, to leave us. It had to be on her own terms.

My mother was not a saint, not without faults. She was human like all of us. But she was passionate about life and family. She was determined and knew how things should be – were supposed to be – and tried to control those things as best she could. But she adapted in spite of herself, in surprising ways, and, when things seemed out of control, she let love guide her. She did her best, she gave what she could and more. She lived and prospered through the Great Depression and WWII, and 71 years of marriage to the same man. And she made the best pies I’ve ever tasted. How many of us can say as much.

I’ll miss you, Mom…

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