November 5, 2012
It is hard to believe that my Mom passed away one year ago today. We have made it through a year of celebrations already without her present. It is amazing to say the least, as we all seem to be doing just fine as we know she is free from pain that wasn’t going to get better. We also know that she is around us all the time as is our stepdad, Charlie, and my Mom’s mother, Mary. They were all characters and seem to like to remind us of it in small ways.
As I don’t know if I will get by her grave today due to an appointment in New Hampshire and, as happens all the time around here, unexpected things came up and kids dropping by to visit made time fly and it is now dark here by 4:30, so the cemetery was closed.
I thought a way to remember her would be to share some of her wonderful stories of a difficult childhood that she could turn into laughter till our sides hurt. My mother had way more than NINE lives and she made the best of them.
Judith Ann Campbell was born on July 24, 1938 to Mary Gordon Campbell and John Campbell. Judy had an older sister, Joanie, who was born 7 years earlier. They live in a home in Quincy, Massachusetts and Mom’s first major brush with death came when she was just 2 months old. It was The Great New England Hurricane that hit shore on September 21, 1938. My mom was upstairs in her crib when a tree was uprooted, landed on the house and the limbs came to rest across her crib. I have pictures of the house that I found in my Nana’s pictures that clearly show this was not a tall tale! (I would post them, but I seem to have no luck posting pictures on my blog). “Someone” knew my mother had things to do in life apparently.
Being younger by seven years did not stop my mother from being the most clever, annoying, troublemaker to her sister, Joanie. I will try not to make this too long, but here are some of my favorite stories that my Aunt Joanie agreed my mother did to her over the years. They are not in any particular order, but I will start with one where my aunt actually got the better of my mom.
Back in the 1940’s, sledding was done by unrolling trash cans, piling your friends on and flying down the street and most likely praying the whole time. My aunt, again being seven years older, was doing just that one very great sledding day. My mom was probably all of six or seven years old and was determined not to miss out. Fully outfitted in her snow gear, she started the long climb up the steep street so she could get a sled ride. Apparently she only made in halfway up when to her surprise she saw her sister and friends barreling right at her and there was no way for them to stop and no place for my mom to move to quickly enough and was FLATTENED by the sled. I can still hear my mom telling the story and we would be laughing till our sides hurt because here she was telling the story, so a gang of teenagers certainly did not stop her mischievous ways!
My mother learned early what things were most important to Joanie and went out of her way to get to those things locked in the closet or a jewelry box. She would pick the locks and have her way. The best would be when she would master the closet door and gather all Joanie’s prized Barbie dolls and strip them, mix up the clothes and leave the whole mess on Joanie’s bed. My mother was quite pleased with herself. One can only imagine the words that flew out of Joanie’s mouth and the chasing of my mother through the house!
Joanie got a new bike for her birthday when she was a teenager. It was shiny and red and “a grown up bike”. I think Joanie got to ride it the first day she had it. Her mistake was not hiding it at a friend’s house. My mother got her hands on it the very next day. I was too big for her, of course, but nothing deterred my mom. Well that was until she rode through some hedges and straight into a TREE, wrecking the bike and having the nerve to leave it and just go home as if nothing had happened. What a joy she was to have around!
Halloween back then was very different than it is now. Neighborhoods were the boundaries and everyone knew you. What could my mother have possibly done to infuriate Joanie on Halloween? Simple for my mom; she went out trick-or-treating in Joanie’s costume before Joanie was home. Then my mom went out in her own costume and got more goodies. So what’s wrong with being clever? When Joanie went out with her friends, the neighbors did not give her any candy and told her she had already been around! By now, I am sure Joanie was pretty fast at figuring out it was mom. I think mom was ingenious and daring! Joanie must have thought other things.
The last Mom and Aunt Joanie story I will tell is truly the best. Aunt Joanie was very neat and always planned ahead for what she would wear to school and lay it out on the bed first thing in the morning. My mother was the opposite. So putting that famous brain to work, mom would get washed up first in the morning. Then while Joanie was washing up, my mom would go into Joanie’s room (picking the lock), dress in Joanie’s nice neat outfit and bolt out the door before Joanie was even done in the bathroom. Infuriating, but so funny to hear it from my mother and have my aunt nod her head in agreement to the story. More infuriating was the fact that my mother would only do this on days she did not have anything ready or liked Joanie’s outfit better leaving Joanie never quite knowing on what day she was going to duped by mom again!
Now I bet you all wish you had known my Mom! To my friends that did know her and heard these stories sitting at my house at the kitchen table, I hope I brought back some fun memories. Mom, I love you and thank you for watching over us now. Love, Kathi