Seventeen years ago, Sept 20th, my mom was killed in a car accident when the whole family was in Boston for my brothers wedding. I was 36 years old, a recently divorced single mom with two children ages 8 and 4. My mother loved me with the kind of unconditional love I feel for my own children. She was the most powerful force in my life giving me the wings to take off and live the life that I wanted. She supported me through my painful divorce from a husband who wasn't happy and shared so many difficult traits of my father. There are days that I would do just about anything to see or talk to Mom.
Mom, Phyllis, was a brilliant, sensitive, creative and loving woman. I see her photo every day in my living room and remember her just as beautiful as that day. Mom grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a large Irish Catholic family. She had three sisters and one brother. Her immediate family was quite large because her mother, Leila, and her sister, Helen, married two brothers. She attended St Philip Neri school. She went to a special high school/college program at the University of Chicago. When Phyllis was 27 years old she married Roman. I was the oldest of her four children.
Palette 'n Pen was the name of her art studio. She was an artist that created magic with a paintbrush and calligraphy pen. Her paintings hang in just about every room of my home as the palette she used include my favorite colors. She painted with watercolor, oil and acrylic on canvas. Also, she was a Master Calligrapher specializing in illumination using gold leaf.
Impulsively, I left for Chicago last weekend and spent time with my family on the day of the anniversary of the of the car accident. It has been a long time since I have been to her grave, but instead of going there, Aunt Florence, her sister, and I went by the house that she designed and I grew up in. Fortunately, the current owner was in the driveway and graciously gave us a tour of the house and all the remodeling that had been done. His daughter, Natalie, who is now in her 20's grew up in the same bedroom that I had. Isn't that special?! The house looks stunning filled with the most beautiful art in every room. I was most taken by the feeling that the rooms were so much smaller than I remember ... but I haven't been in the house for over 25 years.
Over the years I have hear my moms voice and words echo out of me. She is still so much a part of my life.