On June 19 1931, probably a tricky day to be born, mom came into a generous and musical family in Pittsford, New York. Delmar, her dad, played trumpet and mellophone and Beverly would soon be a piano star. It being the depression, the story goes that her father walked to work as a carpenter about 8 miles each way to earn a day wage of 25 cents (about $20 when adjusted for 80 years of inflation). Still, with a house a block away from the rail station, the inevitable dinner guests, one per day, would show up having jumped the train just as it slowed down after the bridge over the Eerie Canal. Their house was marked and Delmar never removed the mark though their third and fourth Child had just been born.
Catherine Faulkner Spellman, their mom also worked as a schoolteacher before all the children. She was funny, hummed a lot, and baked the best pie (remember the crust!?) even though she did submit us to strawberry rhubarb now and then and I still don’t know why.
Jack, Diane, Beverly and Delma Lynn, known locally as Chink, became a war hero, children’s clothing store owner, music professor, and teacher respectively to narrow it down. But the tall handsome Dad they had, though full of life, died young. With Jack enlisted to fight World War II, Diane began her lifelong battle to win a self made rat race that keep us all working hard in fear of not living up to her standards. Ah but it was that motivation that kept her own three sons ahead of the curve.
A video of Mom’s highlights would start and end with huge parties, filled by a lot of water sports at Canandaigua and piano duets with Beverly and with a cigarette smoking sequence for sure.
How much does it take to nurse a son through five years in the hospital? Mike and I only knew the home-version as a series of housekeepers tried to keep us in line while Tad battled and mom worked, a legendary hound to nurses and doctors alike. And she took him to Toronto, San Diego, Baltimore for 35 years.
She made me leave when Tad was dying in 2002 and that was her only mistake.
She said her job was done right then and there, but lived until May 20, 2005. I’d wheel her out to see sunsets and she’d have me light up a cigarette even post-hospice in her last three days. Tough one she was, and on her own terms.