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Nice post. Your mother sounds like mine in many ways.

catherine jackson

When I go visit my 96 year old great uncle at assisted living, I have to throw my gum away before I get there or he will look intently at me and say "Ladies do not chew gum". It is such a joke at the facility that the receptionist now reminds me to get rid of it if I forget!

arupa freeman

This is a tangential commente, but I post it here for fans of herstory. This interesting essay reminded me of a book I haven't thought of in 60 years: GRANDMA CALLED IT CARNAL, by Bertha Damon, published in 1938. Bertha was raised in Bridgeport, Connecticut by her grandmother, a devotee of Henry David Thoreau, whose aim was that they be vegetarians and live on 27cents a week, a goal she never quite achieved. It is a delightful read. Thanks for this herstory, Liz.

julie graddy

I love the photograph of your mother, which accidentally, I suppose, captures the shadowness of her personality as you describe it and the faint regret in her face. Julie

The Feminist Grandma

Mother had some big sorrows in her life. I love that photo too.

The Feminist Grandma

Arupa, thank you for the book recommendation - I wonder if Books Inc has it before they close.

The Feminist Grandma

If you were mean and wanted to stir him up, you could tell him you are NOT a lady. Lady was a fighting word when I was a young feminist, but it takes a lot more than that to start a fight with me now.

The Feminist Grandma

Wendy - Thanks! Mothering is a very complicated job.


love this one, ms liz. i like what esther said, and i think she's right. but omigoodness how that automatic "vulgar" comes into my head from time to time. another i remember is using "passed away" for died, "home" for house, "lay" instead of lie. such a precarious tightrope to walk through life, with a scented hankie to one's aristocratic nose keeping out the stink of hoi polloi.
you are such a good writerator.

David Ruhland

Damn, Liz, your mother must have died shortly after we lost touch. I loved your post.. it's warm, funny and ultimately respectful. And, tangentially, back in 1970 I packed 4 other people in my VW bug and we headed out for ice cream in Ann Arbor. I got on US23 and started driving south and decided I'd turn back as soon as anyone suggested that we do so. No one did. We ended up in Key West. We all looked like hippies (I'm sure that was vulgar) but stopped in Cordele (of all places) for breakfast...where the waitress, who was very nice, walked up to us and said "we don't see things like this in Cordele everyday." Keep on posting; you are indeed a wonderful writer... David PS: I'm assuming Esther is Richard's spouse??

The Feminist Grandma

David - I hope the poor pal in the middle of the back seat had stronger fortification or sedative than ice cream!
(Yes, Esther is Richard's wife.)

Dar Gaines

Liz: I remember your mother. We had lunch in NYC. She gave us black bean soup. And one time I saw your parents in Cambridge, with you -- so long ago. I am very glad to read your blog and to find that you are alive and well. Your blog is so terrific, I can't stop reading it, and I've got things to do!



Dar - wonderful wonderful to get a note from you!! I'm so glad you like the blog, and I hope you'll tell your 10,000 friends (I remember you as gregarious.)

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