Keeping up with Mom

Rural upstate New York where I grew up

My mom, now 89, is a work of art. Read along as I share some of her paintings and drawings.

She was drawn into a family that can best be described as Brady Bunch + One. She was the One. Her mother’s first husband died, and she was left with two girls. Her father’s first wife died, and he was left with two boys and two girls. The widow and the widower married and had my mom.

Mom did at least 12 furniture drawings for a class at Syracuse.


Mom says she majored in art in high school and that her art teacher said she should go to college. The woman recommended two colleges; Syracuse University was the closer one to Montclair, New Jersey, so off she went. Four years later she had a fine arts degree and married my dad. It was a match made in Greek heaven: She was the sorority president; he was the fraternity president. That set a course for the rest of their lives, as they would always be president of their various service organizations in a lifetime of volunteerism.

Mom did her career in a symmetry of 19s. For 19 years she raised us five kids: me, Nancy, Peter, Roberta, and Matthew. The next 19 years she taught elementary school. After retiring from teaching, she worked for 19 years designing homes–more than 200 projects that dot the landscape of Sacramento County and beyond. She designed their own house in rural Elk Grove–transforming it from a barn to a very spacious home where her large family could fit comfortably. However, several years ago when the state of California added thousands of new building codes, Mom said that was enough and retired from her design work.

Christ Church, Hudson, NY–she drew this when we moved so the church could sell prints as a fundraiser.

I inherited none of Mom’s visual artistry. Instead, I enjoy painting pictures with words. I think of Mom, though, when I write–trying to bring truth onto a page in the most pleasing way possible. And diagonals. Notice the various diagonals in these works of art. They move the eye around. I think writers can do diagonals, too–with metaphorical language and well-done description that make you pause and reflect.

My favorite: We used to take the ferry to cross the Hudson River.










My mom has taught me so much. I hope that whatever I leave behind me is a decently sized fraction of the beauty she has given us–through her artwork, her design work, her work as an educator, her volunteerism, her generosity, her tremendous gift of hospitality, and her love for family and friends.

I love you, Mom.




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