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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Uploaded: May 8, 2014

I sent my mother a Mother's Day card over the weekend, but don't expect this blog to be a sappy paean to my mother or mothers in general. Our relationship isn't at the warm, fuzzy level.

My mother, and she's always referred to as "mother," and not "mom," or "mama," or "ma," or "mommy," turned 98 in January. She lives in a very nice, upscale retirement community in Scarborough, Maine. She moved from Palm Beach, Florida to Maine to be near my brother and his sons.

My brother Martin is a Law Professor and Associate Dean at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. He and my Sister-in-Law, Linda, are able to visit mother regularly and chauffeur her around to family functions at their home in Portland or their oldest son's home in Freeport.

I visited them last fall in Freeport and took some photos of mother and other family members. I'm posting one of mother taking her teeth out, which is very unusual for her. She lost her front teeth in 1930 when she was 16. I never saw her take out the bridge until last year.

Mother used to be very concerned about fitting in and looking perfect. She has a weight problem and yo-yoed the same 40 lbs. from 140 to 180 and back again for over 40 years. She always wanted to look stylish and proper for every event.

She wanted me to be socially perfect too, and I'm not nor do I want to be. Her idea of being perfect was to meet all of the societal standards of the day. For example she used to think she was tall. She was actually 5'4" which is average height even during the 1930s, but she would not date any man less than 5'10. In those days the woman was always supposed to be shorter and younger than her date. My father was 5'10" and about 5 years older than mother.

Mother always found something to criticize me about ? my hair, my weight, my income, my clothes. Now that she's losing her eyesight to Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), she doesn't see well enough to comment on my appearance, but she still criticizes my lack of social interaction and wasteful spending. She's right about the spending. I do need to get that under control.

Mother has some very good qualities. She's generous and gives my brother, sister, and I a tax free gift towards our inheritance every year. She also contributes to many worthwhile causes. I remember many years ago there was a hurricane in Mississippi and she contributed $100 to a relief fund. This was at least 50 years ago when $100 was real money.

She's very good at managing her money. She likes some expensive things like Ferragamo shoes and cashmere sweaters, but having grown up in the Great Depression of the 1930's, she's very frugal most of the time.

A few months ago I was speaking to her on the phone and she said she didn't put her hearing aids on because they made her ears itch. I was having the same problem and bought some ear drops from the Vermont Country Store. I had them send her a bottle too. I didn't consider it expensive at $15.

Well she phoned to tell me I shouldn't have wasted so much money on the ear drops. I thought I was doing a nice thing. She said her Doctor recommended ear drops that cost $3 or $4, and the Vermont Country Store inflates the prices on everything. She's right. I fall for a lot of mail order hype.

Mother had a new pacemaker put in last year. My brother said she had a hard time recovering from the surgery, but when I visited her last September she was fully recovered and trotting around on her rollator like the Energizer Bunny.

Long life is in her genes and mine too I suppose. Her mother, who lived with us, died at 98, but she was frail and had a live-in attendant. Mother's Grandfather lived to be 103 and a Great Aunt in Hungary lived to at least 100. That was in the 1920s and '30s before improvements geriatric medicine and bionic replacement parts.

I'm not going to visit Maine this year. I might go back for mother's 100th birthday in 2016. She was born in January, which isn't the best time to visit Maine. I'll see if she or my brother is planning a celebration for the fall of 2015 or the spring of 2016.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on May 9, 2014 at 9:10 am

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

Thanks for Sharing Roz. You're very fortunate to still have her.

My mother passed away at the too-young age of 65 about 10 years ago. She was a great lady.


Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 9, 2014 at 5:34 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.


My father died 31 years ago at 72. He was only one year older than I am now. I plan to write about him for Father's Day.

Mother called me this afternoon to thank me for the card. It was a perfect card for her. The front of the card said, "To a Classically Great Mother." It was an audio card. When she opened it up it played a chorus singing the opening bars of Beethoven's 5th Symphony.

Mother was a classically trained pianist. When I was growing up she would play Chopin and Beethoven on a Knabe Grand piano. She was very good technically, but lacked some of the expression necessary to be a professional concert pianist. She can't play anymore because of arthritis in her hands.

I told her I wrote my blog about her and she wants me to mail her a copy. I know she will probably say I'm exaggerating my description of some of her traits. She might be right.

We talked about the 100th birthday party and she agreed January would not be a good time to hold it. She will speak to my brother and sister-in-law about holding it next year. They are in Charleston, SC now visiting her mother, who just turned 90.


Posted by Sigmund, a resident of Danville,
on May 12, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Roz: when your "looking perfect" Mom sees that pic, you better hope you're still faster than she is.

Posted by Sigmund, a resident of Danville,
on May 12, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Roz: when your "looking perfect" Mom sees that pic, you better hope you're still faster than she is.

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 13, 2014 at 12:01 am

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.


Well she's in Maine and I'm in California. That's one of the reasons I'm in California.

Posted by Ms. bunny, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 15, 2014 at 7:45 am

Yeah Roz, you really are blessed to still have your Mom with you, even at a distance. I miss mine so much...Stellar woman in every sense of the word. She was my best friend in all this world. Gentle, soft spoken, very intelligent and a heart as big as the sea. Very philanthropic and visionary, always.

Your mother has lived through some tumultuous times as well and sounds rather stoic though less than "touchy-feely" to some degree! Still, she must be quite a gal! I is good you are able to appreciate 'both sides' and see objectively as you do. One can garner much peace in that viewpoint I surmise.

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 15, 2014 at 4:01 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

Ms. Bunny,

It's nice to have good, warm memories of your mother. My memories are not warm and fuzzy, but I tried to be balanced and give my mother credit for her good points. She does have many.

My memories of my father are much warmer. He died in 1983 and I miss him every day. I plan to write about him on Father's day.

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