Walkabout. Mom Edition.
I got released from the doctor yesterday to hike, something that has eluded me for the last two months as my foot healed after my mid-October surgery. I’m supposed to start out with a half hour and build up every other day, but we’ll see how that plays out. It felt good to be out in the park and the preserve again. Today is my mom’s birthday. She would have been 102! I thought about her a lot when I walked. She was really an amazing woman. She was born and grew up in Pittsburgh in a large, wealthy family. She dated fellows with names like Carnegie, Mellon, and Heinz. She went to Miss Simon’s Finishing School and married my father later than most girls of her generation. She was an accomplished portrait artist and I have some great drawings that she did in graphite of celebrities of the time.
When my father was diagnosed with emphysema when I was 12, we moved from New York to Tucson because it had a dry climate which was the cure in those days. She left her world behind her, and when my father could no longer work, she built a business as a silk screen and ceramic artist. She was an early member of DeGrazia’s guild and did both his work and her own work. She sold her silk screens at Tom Bahti’s in Tucson and would drive the back road through Florence to Phoenix and sell her work at the Biltmore. She loved the desert. She thought sahuaros held the souls of ancient people. In the desert, she found a collapsed sahuaro, cut off the end, pulled out the thorns, made a mold of it, and cast ceramic wind chimes from it. She even used a cast of the dried flower to hang with it.
She daily cooked hamburger meat for birds and a roadrunner who would peck on her arcadia door and visit her. She loved quail, an image she often used artistically—a small bevy of which ran alongside me this morning, chirping and cackling and raising a ruckus as they scampered through the low brush, as if they wanted my mother to know it was time to be fed.