Today being Mothers' Day, I figured I'd write about mom. Mom, simply put, is the best... always has been. There are five of us, so we were never inundated with consumer goods, but the house was full of books, and there was always money for enrichment programs, classes, trips to cultural and historic sites. Mom raised us with a set of high expectations, but gave us a tremendous amount of freedom. People always assumed that she was a strict disciplinarian, but she never had to be- she laid down her rules, she explained why she demanded this sort of behavior, and we lived up to her high standards. Rule number one, of course, was that you had to perform well academically, and the other rules pretty much proceeded from there (regarding attendance, she told us, "The only reason you'll miss a day of school is due to a death in the family... yours."). She gave us plenty of opportunities for constructive recreation, so we really didn't have time to screw up or pick up bad habits.
Sometimes times were tough (mom had to pawn her accordion to buy medicine for one of us) but there was always enough food on the table so that friends could stop by... and they did. The door was always open, and company was a constant. One summer, my college roommate stayed with us so he could work in a Manhattan office rather than a Neenah foundry. Many times, I'd come home from work and find friends over (they had spare key privileges), putting a case of beer on ice and raiding the fridge. When my brother Sweetums took a round-the-world trip, he told people, "If you are visiting New York, call ahead, and stop by", and people did. No matter where you came from, or what you looked like, or what language you spoke at home, the door was open. As can be imagined, there are a lot of "adopted" children, from all parts of the globe.
The door is still always open. Old family friends still stop by in the course of their travels, she has co-workers who call her "ma", and she is a pillar of her neighborhood. Yeah, mom kicks ass. I'll be heading down to Virginia later this week to hang out with mom, and to party with the family of a classmate of my brother Vincenzo who is a member of the extended family. The extended family consists of thousands of people, by the way. Mom wouldn't have things any other way.