A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Mother's Day is a bit sad for me, because my mother has been dead for so many years.

She was born Ezabela Otelia Adamczyk in Enfield, Connecticut, on April 14, 1914. She was the only one of nine brothers and sisters to graduate from high school. They said she used to read the dictionary at night to improve her vocabulary.

After graduating from Cathedral High School in Springfield, Massachusetts--with much better grades than I ever got--she attended Bay Path College in Longmeadow, at that time a finishing school for women. Energetic and ambitious, she used to pay her younger sisters to do her chores so she could be out and about. She wanted to get the hell out of the neighborhood, and she did.

On the eve of World War II, she married a man thirteen years her senior. He was dignified, college-educated, not Polish, and not from the neighborhood. He reminded her of one of her heroes, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Off he went to England as a master sargeant, while she stayed behind and worked in Pratt & Whitney, making airplane parts. She also taught herself to cook and clean--all those things she'd avoided as long as she had little sisters to bribe.

Her nickname was Nifty, because everything she did, she did so well. Once my sister and I were born, she put aside school and work, dancing and dressing herself so fine, and devoted herself to being a Mom. Right down to the Toll House cookies coming out of the oven as we walked in from school.

She was a nifty mother. And grandmother, too, until heart disease and cancer and kidney failure knocked her out, one, two, three. I sometimes wonder how my life would have turned out had she been around for the last twenty years to straighten me out.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.