Saturday, May 10, 2008

happy mother’s day

It’s frustrating to be so far away on Mother’s Day—I wish we could be in Oscoda celebrating with Mom. Especially this time of year—I’ve never been to Oscoda in the spring. Every other season, yes, but not spring.

This afternoon, I cut some more lilacs for the house. The look and the smell of them always evokes memories of spending time in Wyandotte, Michigan when I was a little girl. We’d be visiting my grandparents, who lived on Maple Street—the same house Mom grew up in. Or sitting on the front steps of the house on Ninth Street, where I spent the first four years of my life.

Lee Fleming and Alice Fleming, October 1957
Sitting on the porch with Mom in October, 1957, at our house on 9th Street, which was across the street from a beautiful old cemetery.

Wyandotte is an old town southwest of Detroit on the Detroit River. Its most-famous former residents are Lucille Ball and Lee Majors. Wyandotte is a city that clings to traditions—it is represented in Congress by John Dingell, who was elected to Congress before I was born and is still there. (I’m 52.) There are lots of lovely (and many unlovely) old houses and beautiful old parks and cemeteries and there were lilac bushes everywhere—huge, old, lush lilac bushes. In Wyandotte, around Mother’s Day, when the lilacs bloomed, it was a wonderment just to stand still and breathe.

Alice Dunn, 1945
Alice Elaine Dunn at 10 years old, in 1945 (click to enlarge)

So lilacs and Wyandotte and my mother are forever bound together in my mind. I loved going with her to see my grandparents and my mother’s sisters and the Fitch (or maybe it was Futch) family, who lived next door to my grandparents. I loved listening to Mom and her sisters talk—the Dunn sisters were known (and feared) for their wicked, intelligent wit. I loved hearing stories about Mom’s school days and how she was the homecoming queen in high school and made the honor roll always and how she met Dad and all kinds of stories. So sitting here smelling the lilacs is making me miss Mom even more than ever. Dad sent this picture he took of her yesterday. As a Mother’s Day present, he treated her to a full salon treatment. The flowers on the table are her winnings from Friday-night Bingo at the American Legion. Looking at this photo, I was struck by how much she still looks like she did when she was ten—the bone structure and the eyes and the smile.

image
Alice Fleming, taken by James Fleming, on May 10, 2008. (click to enlarge)

(hi-res version of this photo for printing) Stanley and I are planning to go to Oscoda at the end of this month for a quick visit—I’m really looking forward to it.

posted by lee on 05/10/08 at 10:27 PM

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