Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Happy Birthday Freda Pfeffer!

Tomorrow is my mother's 96th birthday.

To put this in historical context, until my mother was nine years old, women couldn't vote in her home state of North Carolina. To give it a more personal touch, my mother left her hometown of Winston Salem (where John Phillip Sousa gave a concert at her high school) when she was eighteen, and she hasn't been back in more than seventy five years.

My mother has an apartment in an assisted living facility. She reads two newspapers a day, one or two books a week, and watches Newshour on PBS nightly. She loves figure skating (Scott Hamilton and Sasha Cohen are her favorites, and we're talking about going to Stars On Ice if the schedule works out), and enjoys tennis (she roots for the Williams sisters). She clips out the sports section of the Daily News for me and any articles she finds about American Idol.

I read an essay once that said mothers can be at their best at different stages of their children's lives. Some mothers are great with infants, others with teenagers. My mother is the best mother of adults I've ever seen. She is tolerant,generous, supportive, undemanding, and always willing to listen. My friends love her (can you blame them?). She also has an extraordinary talent for adapting to whatever life throws her way. Of all her skills, that's the one I most try to learn from her.

She's getting two small birthday celebrations this week. Today my brother, sister-in-law and I will pop in. Alan and Esther are bringing a cake, and we'll go to her brand new computer (Alan and Esther gave her one a couple of weeks ago) and check out her e-mails (she hasn't been practicing her internet skills because of the U.S. Open taking so much time). Tomorrow she and I will have brunch at the Goshen Diner, followed by a trip to the place where she used to do her volunteer work (and where I still do mine). I already got the cake (although tragically I jostled it, and the cake now reads Happy Birthday eda). People will be delighted to see her there, no matter what the cake says.

Next Monday the Quill Award winners will be announced. Since Barnes & Noble listed Life As We Knew It as an also ran from the getgo, I don't anticipate LAWKI winning. I've already gone through my Kubler-Ross stages of grieving (denial was my favorite, with rage a close second).

But the reality is, it doesn't matter. Next Monday my mother will be 96 and she will still love me.


Mr. Cavin said...

Wow, after that first sentence, I was going to proudly tell you I, too, was a North Carolinian. Of course that soured after your second sentence. Still, I don’t understand: no matter what state your mother moved to, there, also, women were unable to vote before 1920. In NC there were vocal (co-ed) suffragette activists from several years before your mother was born. This is not finishing last in the race of the enlightened here, though nothing much worth bragging about either. To be fair, NC also attempted to vote down the nineteenth amendment--not the first time I have been proud to issue from the losing side of something. Still, I say NCs civil rights record speaks for itself over and over.

I run on. Happy birthday to your mom.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Well, I put in the part about women not being able to vote in NC for stylistic reasons (my being a writer and all), but I was pretty sure there were places in the U.S. that did allow women to vote before 1920.

A quick trip to Wikipedia just now confirms that. Some of the western territories/states allowed women the vote, and apparently Illinois had limited suffrage for women.

I doubt my mother much cared about these things in her childhood, but I've never known her to miss an election, up to and including this past November.

My guess is her gift for adaptability (and thus lack of interest in looking back) has more to do with her failure to return to Winston Salem than anything about North Carolina itself.

And I'll be delighted to pass along your birthday greetings. The more the merrier!

Marci said...

I suspect that your mom was too busy being the world's greatest Mom of Adults to have time to go back to North Carolina. If someone had proposed a trip, I'll bet she would have gone.

Just to put things in perspective, in 1911 women still wore their skirts long, automobiles were a novelty, but the first race at Monte Carlo and the first Indie 500 were run that year, World War I hadn't been fought yet and Europe was still mostly a continent of Monarchies. New Mexico and Arizona were not yet states and movies were in their infancy.

So Happy Birthday Freda! If there was a Moms' Hall of Fame, she'd be in it!