My Mom (A Belated Mother’s Day Story)

My mother and yours truly in the late 1940s

Not many days go by when I don’t think of my mother, Elaine Scheinin. This has been true since her passing in 1994. She lives on in my mind because she was an exceptionally fine person. Honest, warm and unpretentious. And blessed with an openness that few could resist. Pretty much everyone that knew her was crazy about her.

If I remember my output correctly, I’ve written about her only once before. That was in an article about the late, famed jazz pianist Thelonious Monk (click here if you’d like to read it). My mom, a jazz fan, became part of that article because she once spoke with Monk on the phone in 1976. Drawing up her courage, she took the initiative to obtain and dial his number (Monk, a Manhattanite, somewhat surprisingly did not have an unlisted phone number). She hoped to ask him if he knew that WKCR, a New York City radio station, was in the midst of airing a multi-day tribute to him and his music.

Monk answered the phone. Yes, he was very aware of the tribute. And he thanked my mother for calling him. I was sitting with her when she reached out to the great musician, and the incident left me awe-struck. Hers was a spontaneous and innocent act of good-heartedness and caring. She would have been disappointed if Monk somehow missed out on the love being shown to him on the radio.

Now, here’s the thing. I think of my mother often not only because of her enviable natural state of being, but also because of what happened to her in her middle age and how she responded to that tragedy. In 1969, when she was 49, her retinas hemorrhaged badly, a consequence of diabetes. She lost her sight, living the remaining 25 years of her life in total darkness. The pain I felt was intense. And it hasn’t lessened. Her blindness was, and in memory remains, heartbreaking to me.

For nearly all of those 25 years she didn’t complain, didn’t bemoan her fate. She suffered, but she almost always kept it to herself. At a party once, though, I overheard one of her sisters-in-law say this to her: “It’s a shame about your vision.” To which my mother responded, “You have no idea.” Those few words pretty much said it all.

Basically, my mom soldiered on, remaining the person she always had been, bright and optimistic, fully continuing her household work and community involvement. In the early 1990s, though, diabetes struck again, ravaging her body and ultimately her mind. “Why do bad things happen to good people?” has been asked by countless folks. The answer is that good people are not immune to the slings and arrows, and lightening bolts, of life. If only they were.

Ideally, I’d have liked to have published this remembrance on Mother’s Day. But I didn’t complete it in time. Better late than never, as the saying goes. Many of us are fortunate to have been raised by loving, good people. I surely was. My father was ace too. And so, I wish a Happy Mother’s Day, belatedly, to the fine ladies who give their heart and soul, selflessly, to their children. And I accompany that wish with a major tip of the hat.

122 thoughts on “My Mom (A Belated Mother’s Day Story)

  1. Becky Ross Michael May 20, 2019 / 12:59 am

    Such a lovely and touching tribute to your mother, Neil. She sounds like a wonderful person, and you were very lucky. I absolutely love the story about her calling Thelonius Monk on the phone:)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Suzanne [Life At No.22] May 20, 2019 / 1:23 am

    What I love about this post is that you described her qualities as an exceptional person and not just her motherly traits. She as a strong woman as losing her sight would’ve been tough on her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 20, 2019 / 9:20 am

      Hi Suzanne. She dealt with her problems very well. As I say in the story, she soldiered on.

      Like

  3. We Travel Happy May 20, 2019 / 1:24 am

    Such a heart-warming story. Thank you for sharing, a pleasant reminder for me to always be grateful for and to the mother I still have. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sheree May 20, 2019 / 1:41 am

    A lovely tribute to your mother who was evidently a truly exceptional person. You haven’t missed Mothers’ Day because it’s on different Sundays in various countries. For example, next Sunday is Mothering Sunday in France.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 20, 2019 / 9:27 am

      Hi Sheree. For some reason I never wrote much about my mother before. I’m glad I wrote this article.

      Like

  5. Still the Lucky Few May 20, 2019 / 6:11 am

    I was very moved by your story. It’s good to know that an exceptional parent can be so lovingly acknowledged and remembered by a son.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. cath May 20, 2019 / 6:14 am

    What a beautiful selection of memories you have, Neil. Thanks for sharing them, and in a way I’m glad you missed mother’s day with this. It’s good to have the reminder of who’s important in our lives on more than an annual basis.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dave Astor May 20, 2019 / 6:42 am

    Beautiful tribute to your mother, Neil. Loved the Thelonious Monk story, and very sorry your mother had to deal with those serious health issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 20, 2019 / 9:34 am

      Hi Dave. Glad you liked this piece. My brother was an announcer on the station that aired the Monk tribute (it’s Columbia University’s station). My brother was a very big jazz fan. Because of him, my mother became a jazz fan too.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. joylennick May 20, 2019 / 7:26 am

    Hi Neil, You and your mother deserved each other ! Such evident love there…..I shed more than one tear on reading how she lost her sight. Being a jazz fan myself, I loved that your Mom phoned Thelonious Monk too. Hugs x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 20, 2019 / 9:40 am

      Hi Joy, and many thanks for adding your thoughts. For some reason, the Monk occasion is one of my strongest memories of my mother. I suppose that’s because it was such an unusual thing to have happened.

      Like

  9. joyce hamilton May 20, 2019 / 8:00 am

    Beautiful tribute to your mother!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Laurie Graves May 20, 2019 / 9:46 am

    Never too late is right! A touching, beautiful tribute to a wonderful woman who handled her tribulations with courage. Also, what a darling picture of you and your mom. Such wonderful, curly hair you had.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Robert Parker May 20, 2019 / 10:18 am

    Hi Neil – this is a nice tribute, and I’m glad you wrote it, it wouldn’t hurt to have Mother’s Day pretty much weekly, they deserve it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Imelda May 20, 2019 / 11:17 am

    What a brave and gracious woman your mother was. Salute to loving mothers and great women.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Paddy Tobin May 20, 2019 / 2:14 pm

    A good woman! You were lucky to have had here and it’s good to remember her.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Mahvish (towhomitmayconcern) May 20, 2019 / 2:30 pm

    So, I read your blog this morning (my morning) and I’ve been walking around all day imagining what it must have been like to live that kind of life from both her perspective and yours. I imagination failed. Seems both amazing and terrifying. She sounds beautiful. May she rest in peace. May you two be reunited in the best of places, Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. sniderjerry May 20, 2019 / 3:43 pm

    A great Mom! A great Son! A great Story! Thank you for writing it. All the best. Jerry

    Liked by 1 person

  16. andrewcferguson May 20, 2019 / 5:10 pm

    Great tribute, Neil! I’m finding it true too that memories of your parents after they’ve gone are always with us, and we always miss them.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Isabelle May 20, 2019 / 5:41 pm

    I’m very touched by your mother’s story. It was heartbreaking to hear about her lost vision. My mother too lost the vision of her left eye. Your words reminded me to spend more time with her, listening to her and having little conversations with her.

    Your mother was a wonderful woman, brave and exceptional. The picture is beautiful. So much love in it. Take care, Isabelle

    Liked by 1 person

  18. alhenry May 20, 2019 / 5:51 pm

    As a mother, I can’t help being touched by your subject matter. I especially love the Thelonius Monk story. In addition to your mother;s generosity of spirit on that occasion, what I loved about it was that she did not think “celebrity” who is above me, someone I must impress and/or cannot possibly speak to (as most would, I think), but “fellow being” who is beside me. That sense of self and the way we are all connected is too seldom seen.

    Lovely tribute, Neil.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 20, 2019 / 7:55 pm

      Hi Amy. My mother probably was a little nervous about dialing Monk’s number, but dial it she did. She wanted to make sure that he knew about the tribute being paid to him on the radio.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Helen Devries May 20, 2019 / 6:01 pm

    What a wonderful woman! You were so lucky to have her as your mother.
    I liked her ringing Thelonius Monk…just the simple way she would ring a friend or neighbour to let them know they were on the box.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 20, 2019 / 7:57 pm

      Hi there, Helen. I’m very glad that I was sitting in the kitchen with her when she decided to call Monk. It was really something to witness.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 20, 2019 / 7:58 pm

      Hi. Yes, my mother wasn’t self-centered at all. She spent a lot of time being concerned about, and showing concern to others.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. viewfromoverthehill May 20, 2019 / 8:06 pm

    Yeah to your mom Neil: Not only was she special in other ways, but she also managed to raise you to be the thoughtful, fine person you are. It is never too late to honor her. Muriel

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Joe May 20, 2019 / 8:36 pm

    Lovely tribute to your remarkable mother in the 25th year of her passing, Neil. She will certainly live on forever in your memory.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 20, 2019 / 9:55 pm

      Hey there, Joe. As always, I’m glad to hear from you. Many thanks for your fine words and for adding to the conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Alyson May 21, 2019 / 5:01 am

    A lovely tribute Neil. “Why do bad things happen to good people?” – It just never seems fair does it.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. lievelee May 21, 2019 / 9:14 am

    A lovely tribute, Neil. And yes, it should be Mother’s Day every day of the year… But it’s good to know, as a mother myself, that respect and gratitude will eventually come… albeit possibly after I have gone…

    Lieve

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 21, 2019 / 10:18 am

      Respect and gratitude will be yours, if they already aren’t.

      Many thanks for adding your thoughts, Lieve. See you!

      Liked by 1 person

  24. JT Twissel May 21, 2019 / 1:57 pm

    Such a beautiful tribune. Doesn’t matter that it’s a little late – as they always say, it’s the thought that counts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 21, 2019 / 3:36 pm

      Hi JT. I don’t write about the past all that much, but I’m glad to have written this one.

      Like

  25. K E Garland May 21, 2019 / 2:35 pm

    Very nice Neil! I’m always fascinated by people who do not complain about any aspect of their lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 21, 2019 / 3:41 pm

      Hi Kathy. That’s an interesting point. I wonder if there are more complainers than non-complainers, or vice versa.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. cincinnatibabyhead May 21, 2019 / 2:37 pm

    If that piece doesn’t leave a person feeling better I don’t what will. I gotta go, I’m bursting with the feel goods.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Paula B May 21, 2019 / 6:34 pm

    Thank you for sharing your exquisite remembrance of your mother and of her tremendous courage.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. ckennedyhola May 21, 2019 / 7:14 pm

    Hi Neil– What a lovely tribute to your mom! I especially enjoy the story of her impromptu call. So many fans of musicians or other artists reach out because they want something–an autograph–a big break if they are an artist as well. However, your mother wanted to selflessly give something: some good news that she didn’t want this musician to miss out on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 21, 2019 / 7:55 pm

      Hello there, Cecilia. I wonder if other strangers called Monk to let him know about the radio tribute to him. That would be very interesting to know. Have a great rest of the week. See ya.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Debra May 21, 2019 / 8:54 pm

    Since you turned out so well, Neil, I figured you had at least one great parent.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Pam Lazos May 21, 2019 / 9:32 pm

    Oh Neil, your mother sounds divine. What a lovely soul and what a fighter! My mother was in that same camp. She suffered with scleroderma for 30 years, but it never stopped her and she never complained. I don’t know if they make people like that any more. I complain way more than my mom ever did and my kids are worse than me — haha! You delivered a glowing tribute to a wonderful woman.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. candidkay May 21, 2019 / 11:11 pm

    I am sure she’d be honored by such a lovely tribute. I know I would be if my boys wrote something like this. She sounds like a brave soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. eden baylee May 22, 2019 / 12:16 am

    I’m reading this late, but I’m happy not to have missed this touching tribute to your mother.

    Thank you for sharing her story.

    eden

    Liked by 1 person

  33. johnlmalone May 23, 2019 / 3:30 am

    My mother was good too and suffered terribly after dad died young. She had a saying, “it’s a tragedy to grow old’. Mothers are often the strength of families. It is right they have a day dedicated to them. A loving tribute.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. George May 23, 2019 / 2:16 pm

    That is such a beautiful eulogy to someone who was clearly a remarkable woman, as well as bring, simply, your Mum. That was very moving to read. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. theburningheart May 24, 2019 / 1:28 pm

    A fine tribute Neil, better late, than never, which remind me of doing so myself, it’s funny when you see good old mom, every day, how little thought some of us give to her, then when she is gone, hardly a day go by, we do not think of her. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  36. selizabryangmailcom May 24, 2019 / 4:11 pm

    Yeah, it’s interesting how much the older generation, our parents especially, seemed to live by that “stiff upper lip” credo, isn’t it? An admirable quality which is fast fading. I know I definitely complain a hell of a lot more than my parents ever did, for one thing! 🙂

    The way you describe your mother, it’s no wonder pretty much everyone was crazy about her. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 24, 2019 / 6:41 pm

      Hi there, Stacey. I do plenty of complaining too, usually about little things that shouldn’t even bother me.

      Like

  37. America On Coffee May 25, 2019 / 7:46 pm

    A loving warm-hearted, virtuous tribute Neil! Your mom is special!! Hope you are having a relaxing day, Neil! And, thank you for always sharing love!!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Crystal Byers May 28, 2019 / 6:28 pm

    Neil, so much irony in Yeah, Another Blogger. I hope your memoir is in the making and that you save me a copy. I love this episode starring your mother.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. jeanleesworld May 31, 2019 / 6:07 am

    A powerful reminder of the hearts we hold close, and why. Hers was a fire that could not be doused. Thank you for sharing, my friend! xxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s