My mother was an actress, or at least she wanted to be. She and my father moved to New York City in 1960 after they were married so they could perform on Broadway. When Mother became pregnant with me, reality set in.
I was born in New York City on June 1st, 1961. After living in Boulder, Colorado, and Tucson, Arizona, my family settled in Sheridan, Wyoming, in 1973. Although my mother never performed on Broadway, she and my father were involved in community theater wherever we lived.
Mother also did a lot of acting at home. My earliest memories were of her and Dad arguing over money. When they argued, after having seen them in plays, I thought the fight was just another theatrical production. I’d stop what I was doing, sneak into the room as if into a theater after a play had started, and quietly find a seat. At the end of the play, the actors simply walked off stage with no applause, curtain call, or light change.
Fight about the Money became a nightly performance and sometimes ran during the day. As I grew older, the need to fight about money became scarce, but plenty of other home theatrical productions took place. Since Mother hated it when Dad invited people for dinner without checking with her, Fight about the Guests was occasionally performed. Mother didn’t think the dog should be allowed to lounge on the couch, although the cats were encouraged to do so. Fight about the Animals was another performance to be anticipated.
One day in Tucson, we returned home to find that our electricity had been shut off because a payment had not been made. At the time, Mother was going for her Master’s degree in education from the local university, and Dad was teaching at the university in Tempe and wouldn’t be home that night. For the benefit of the power company, a production of Poor Me was staged, and we got our lights turned back on.
When I moved into an apartment as an adult, Mother drove me to K-Mart to shop for furniture and other accessories. We found a bookcase I liked, but it had to be taken home in a box and assembled. Since Dad spent the previous day swearing and grunting, as he put together a dining room table, we didn’t think he wanted to do that again. Because there were two assembled bookcases on display, the sales staff in the furniture department was treated to another performance of Poor Me, and we got to take home one that was already put together.
Mother wasn’t just an actress. She was also a rock, instrumental in getting me out of the ArizonaStateSchool for the Deaf and Blind after a teacher threatened to put me in a special class for the mentally retarded. Once I was in public school, she read materials to me that weren’t in accessible formats and helped me with homework, even though she was busy with teaching, theater, and other obligations. When I was on the high school speech team, she coached me in dramatic interpretation. When I was sick, she was always there with chicken soup and Coke, telling me to eat and drink slowly and if it tasted good, it would stay down.
Through all my life’s trials and tribulations: school, college, work, she was there with a shoulder to cry on, a hug, and a listening ear. She died in 1999 of cancer. She will always be remembered as someone who could act and love.