The familiar all pervasive smell of Norrell perfume and cigarettes wafting in the air as I sat on the floor watching Captain Kangaroo eating my Quisp Cereal… Click, Clack, Click , Clack went the staccato sound of her Joseph’s Salon of Shoes platforms as she scurried around the house in her blur of a hurry. Her dark brown, pinstriped suit (I guess you would call it that even though it was a blazer with matching “Hot Pants”) was her de rigueur attire. Perfectly coiffed brunette bun hairpiece, and ringlets framing her face, false eyelashes, red lipstick and blue eye shadow with just a slip of black eyeliner. She was fascinating. She was my mother.
My mother was glamour, brains and balls! She was a warrior of the late 60’s and on. Armed with a brief case, a Parliament in between perfectly manicured fingers and tireless ambition. She flew across the country habitually mistaken for a stewardess and soon to be kicked out of the local ladies Mahjong club for not giving it “enough personal attention”.
I didn’t know anyone like her. She was captivating, fascinating, frightening and compelling. My friends Moms were apron wearing, cookie baking, snack serving Mrs. Brady clones. Mrs. Brown, My Mom, was an anomaly, a force of nature, larger than life at all of 5 feet. (Ok 5’5 in heels).
My Mom wrote a book, invented the “Furniture Fashion Show”, started a mail order microwave cookware business with a retail shop to follow. (Yes, I was a victim of many unsuccessful attempts to actually brown a chicken in that thing). She was on Phil Donahue and the Oprah Winfrey show. She was a National Spoke Woman for Armstrong and Whirlpool corporations. I could go on and on about her myriad of pursuits and accomplishments.
I thought I wanted a Mrs. Brady Mom but my Mom was a star with more chutzpah than anyone else I have ever met in life. She is smart, funny, fashionable and has more stories than anyone I know. It actually took me time to catch up to her computer agility.
Growing up with a feminist mother was confusing and at times it felt simply abnormal. But if my Mom weren’t who she was, I wouldn’t be who I am. As matter of fact, women like my mother were the pioneers who taught many of us perseverance and endurance. She didn’t have to burn her bra or participate in any sort of demonstration. She just had to stay true to herself. No more “Hot Pants”. Now armed with an iPad and a roster of clients who still use her as a publicist, she remains larger than life. She is my hero.