Am I My Mother?
My mother, Lillian Kahn, was born in Buffalo, New York on the day Wilbur and Orville Wright flew the world’s first successful airplane, the Wright Flyer, at Kitty Hawk. (Imagine how they would feel if plopped down in Logan Airport in 2008!) Anyhow, for those of you who haven’t heard that date as often as I have over the years, it was December 17, 1903. Note: I’ve never been to Kitty Hawk, but I enjoyed all the hoopla on the 100th anniversary four years ago.
Mom was one of six children, and she didn’t have all the advantages I’ve enjoyed in life—like a college education, lots of travel and a fulfilling career. However, she and her siblings were a great bunch, and I could fill an entire blog with tales of that clan.
Growing up, when people told me I looked like Mom, I couldn’t really see it, but I knew she was pretty and so I always said “thank you”. But I shall never forget how shocked I was by an event that occurred one day while visiting her in her concrete-skyscraper-Florida-beach-front-apartment. After running an errand, I was in the elevator on the way up to her floor when a perfect stranger stepped in. Without missing a beat, she said, “Why you must be Lillian’s daughter!”
Comments like that became rather frequent over the years, but it wasn’t until I caught a certain angle’s glimpse of myself in a bathroom mirror one day, that I was struck by how much I really do look like my mother. But am I my mother redux?
On her many visits to our Ridge Road home, Mom always wanted to be helpful. She would ask if I had any mending she could do. She enjoyed keeping her hands busy while watching some sports event with her grandsons. I remember at some point she began asking me to thread the needle for her. It was easy with my young eyes, and I didn’t think twice about it.
Mom died in 1989 when she was almost 86 years old.
Last month Peter and I were visiting our son Seth who lives in New York City. We had been to a theatre matinee, and were going to order in dinner at his co-op so we could watch a Patriots playoff game. In the afternoon, I had noticed that the lining of his overcoat was hanging a bit, and I offered to fix it. We stopped on the way home to buy some thread. And while he and his father concentrated on the game, I mended his overcoat. I was too stubborn (proud?) to ask him to thread the needle for me so I struggled to do it myself.
Am I my mother?