In Character

Mom was a bit of a diva, and I as I write that a chuckle escapes. A bit of a diva. For as long as I can remember, Elizabeth would prepare her day by getting into character. Her hair,  wardrobe, jewelry and accessories, were all considered carefully for the roles she would play over the next few hours. Was she going to talk her way into a job for which she was in no way qualified? Or did she need to blend in with the crowd while she played undercover detective? If she happened into Gucci that day, was she buying or selling?

Make no mistake; she was earthy and really funny in a Lucille Ball kind of way. Every adventure would create a laugh, if not at the time then certainly over the years that followed. But I suspect many of those events were strategically choreographed to lead to an almost certain story that would be retold with ever ripening drama.

Elizabeth would change her character as swiftly as a costume change, and thought nothing of a name change from one social circle to another. She would start a new life with every address move, shedding whatever mischief she had caused like a soiled coat, with me along in tow.

As I look back I realize she was also something of a frustrated stage mother. She sent me to acting school, ballet school, guitar, modeling and baton lessons. My absolute lack of motivation (and probably talent) agonized her to no end I’m sure. At one point I was actually supposed to be on a Saturday morning kid’s show, but when taping day began I begged out. And I pleaded to not do a job modeling kid’s clothes in a Sears catalog. I suffered from total stage fright at the time, and eventually she gave up on me and my lame excuses. Besides, it was she who was always the star of the show.

When Mom died, she had taken care of all her loose ends, paying her debts and planning her last month’s budget down to a few cents. Up to the final months she kept her nail and hair appointments, looking as beautiful and charming as ever. She had already given away many of her belongings to those who would cherish them the most. Her apartment was clean and she told me exactly where I could find important records. She was clear in her final wishes, including who would carry out what assignment. The doctors and nurses were her willing subjects and we all fell into line out of love and respect, doing as we were told, when we were told to do it. She did not suffer, she made sure of that. Up to the very end, she wrote the script and was in control of the show, down to the cast and lighting.