Created by Joey on 15/03/2012
Anyone who knew our mom even just a little bit knows what a terrific sense of humor she had. She was really quick-witted, and a master at the snappy comeback. She was also really goofy and would make us laugh a lot – even if she didn’t intend to -- and a lot of what made her funny was her wonderful ability to laugh at herself right along with the rest of us. Her mixed metaphors and malapropisms – malaMOMisms – are Thaxter family lore. The clothing designer Geoffrey Beene was always “Godfrey Bean” to our mom. She never could get the expression, “yada, yada, yada” right – it always came out “ya-di-ta, ya-di-ta, ya-di-ta.” And just 2 days before she passed, she left us with this classic, when in a moment of semi-coherence she said to our dad, “Well, I guess I’m up shit creek without a rowboat.”
And another endearing quality about Mom – she always spoke with authority and conviction, especially when she didn’t have the foggiest idea what she was talking about. We used to spend our summer vacations at Huntington Lake and we had a little ski boat that didn’t have a lot of power – especially up at that high altitude -- and there was one time when someone asked my dad, just out of curiosity, what mix of oil to gasoline he used for the boat and when my dad told him, this guy said something like, “wow, that’s pretty high,” and without missing a beat and with the seeming authority of a chemical engineer my mother said, “Well, you have to in this altitude.”
And our dad just looked at her and shook his head and said, “Jo Anne – it doesn’t have anything at all to do with the altitude,” and thus was born in our family what we call an “altitude statement.” You know exactly what I mean -- when someone boldly makes a pronouncement as if he’s the ultimate authority on the subject and you just know he knows absolutely nothing about it. That’s an altitude statement. We’ve used that expression in our family vocabulary for more than 40 years, and it originated with Mom, and God Bless her, she was famous for them.
You’ve heard about our mom’s love for her family and for her husband, and in closing, I want to share one of the most beautiful memories we have for our dad’s love for her. It was on Mom’s 50th birthday, and as we were all gathered around the dinner table, Dad stood up to speak in her honor. He told us that it was important to him to honor Mom out loud, in public, rather than in a private note that only she would see, and that he’d intended to write something original to read, but he could never get past the words, “this good woman.” And then one day he came across a poem and he decided that’s what he’d read. The poem’s called “I Chose Your Mother,” and I won’t read it now, but the gist is a father saying to his kids, “Look, I know I’m not perfect, and I’ve done some stupid things and made mistakes along the way, but just remember this, my children, it was I who chose your mother for you.”
Thanks, Dad. You picked a really, really good one.
I love you Mom, and I’ll miss you every day of the rest of my life.
Lynne at mom's bedside, as always.