It's a tradition on Mother's Day weekend. Tony pays tribute to the memory of his beloved mom.
The “White” Carnation
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I do it once a year and it always draws close scrutiny. On the Friday before Mother’s Day, I don a white carnation on my lapel. The boutonniere is of course symbolic of the devotion I have for the single most important person in my life, my loving mother. I wear it to commemorate her. You see ever since I arrived at WSAZ , the carnation has been a tribute to my mom who passed away shortly after I relocated to West Virginia.
When asked what made my mom so special, I start with her golden touch with people. If you met mom, you instantly liked her. She treated all people with a kind word and warm heart. When people come to my house and tour my dwelling, I show them mom’s debutante portrait from the 1930s. “Meet Miss America 1938” I am known to say.
Sure, mom wasn’t Miss America “officially”, but her beauty was stunning none the less. I guess what made mom’s beauty so endearing is that she felt uncomfortable if I made a fuss about it. Of course that shyness made mom all the more beautiful.
To this day, when I meet someone my age that still has their mother, I am jealous. You see, mom died when I was only 30, leaving me with a ton of memories for sure, but a lot of missed opportunities.
One of my fondest memories with mom was our weekly Saturday shopping spree to the famous South Philly Italian market. We would walk to 9th street where apples were bought from one vendor, bananas from another and peaches from still another.
It took me until my teen-age years to understand how mom was molding me as both a good friend/citizen and capitalist at the same time. By buying from all the vendors, we were supporting our fellow Italians. We were a close knit group in South Philly.
Mom also knew a good bargain when she saw it, so at a time when money was scant, mom made her budget go a long way.
On the way back, there was a carrot dangling for me as I carried the heavy bags of fruit and produce. In summer mom would treat me to a water ice and in winter a confection at the candy store. Green spearment leaves were my fav!
Since the baseball, football or basketball pick up games started at 12 noon sharp at Palumbo's playground, mom made it known, the faster we did our job, the quicker I could be playing. So in effect, mom was also a master psychologist too!
Perhaps the story that best tells about our relationship takes me back to grad school at Penn State. I came home for 3 weeks on spring break in 1981 with the sole purpose of studying for my Master Comprehensive exam. Think of the comps as a no holds barred test where everything and anything in meteorology is fair game. Most of my buddies were staying at Happy Valley another year, but I wanted out into the real world. So I attempted to write my thesis (A real yawner titled “a Methodology on Tiros-N Radiance Data”) and study for the comps in the same term. Suicidal? Perhaps.
But mom knew how driven I was so she formulated a game plan where I did the studying and she took care of the rest. Up and atom at 8 AM, a nice breakfast was waiting for me. Plenty of fruit would get me off on the right foot, mom surmised.
If I happened to put the TV on (hey, I was in love with Holly from the Price is Right probably because she was a cute red head like mom), mom would quickly remind me what I was trying to do (remember, my friends studied for 6 months, here I was studying for 3 weeks).
Midday lunch included a nice kiss and my favorite combo, home made soup and sandwich. Back to work by 1, with the afternoon filled with Differential Equations (I learned to derive the Classius Claperon equation in my sleep…and sure enough, it was worth a whopping 10 points on my exam!) and Quasi-Geostrophic Vorticity theory.
A late afternoon errand for mom broke the monotony before dinner. Mom let me select the menu every night, which meant lots of Italian dishes like Veal Parmigianino and Baked Macaroni. DePalma’s crusty Italian bread and a green bean salad (of course in a spicy sauce) were staples!
After an hour or so of evening study, mom encouraged me to go out with my friends. She knew all work and no play made Anthony a dull boy.
Anyway, after 3 weeks of this routine, it was back to Penn State for a “judgment” Saturday. I had 8 hours to show what I knew. It was pass and get your Masters degree or fail and be in limbo.
Anyway, I opened the exam that spring morning, browsed thru the questions and within 5 minutes I knew I had passed. All that was left was to spend the next 8 hours writing down what I had learned over a lifetime. I thought of my mom at 8:05 that morning. You see we had passed the exam together!
I could tell you all sorts of stories about how my mom nurtured the talent that God gave me. How she raised me to be a good Christian, how she taught me how to be a capitalist, how she agonized when I was sick and relished in my successes. But all you need to know is that my mom was the single most important person in my life. It’s no wonder I say a prayer for her every night before I go to bed and why on this weekend starting Friday night I don the white carnation in her honor and memory. Oh yeah, there is a tear in my eye too.
I love you Mom!