That she gave and more and taught me to give the same to my own daughters. She was successful in making me strong and independent and to never feel like I couldn’t do something just because I was a girl.
I could talk to my mom about anything. And well after I achieved adulthood, I still relied upon her for advice. Should I be a doctor? What kind of a doctor? Should I leave academic medicine to build a shoe factory? Although super smart in ways that I am not (she was a brilliant school teacher and had an amazing understanding of the English language), my mother did not have much scientific experience, other than being married to my scientific genius father and typing his Chemistry PhD thesis. Nonetheless, she so very clearly understood my research and would often help me articulate its impact.
I remember my mom being much dismayed by the poor footwear choices for women. She would tell me about her own mother being physically disabled from wearing high-heeled shoes. And when I was five-years old, and my grandmother, who lived in New York, came to visit us in San Diego, I was struck with the fact that it was painful for her to walk.
Years later, when I discovered the biomechanical link between high-heeled shoes and knee osteoarthritis, I could hardly wait to come home to tell my mom about it. By that time, she was living with us, caring for our first daughter, Jayme, while I worked. My mom must have read to her nearly every minute of the day. She continued to live with us and did the same with our second and third daughters, Kellyn and Zoe. In so doing, my mom successfully passed on her love for books to our daughters.
My mom was always well ahead of her times and, all along, the sweetest person you could ever meet. She passed away seventy-two days ago on February 28, 2014, shortly after Jayme was accepted to Oxford to “read” English, and seventeen days before what would have been her 91st birthday. One of our dear friends said to me, “I know this time of reflection must be hard. A mother’s bond is the most elemental bond.” Indeed it is hard. Even though my mother had fairly severe dementia (such that we no longer could enjoy the conversations we used to have) for several years, she always knew who I was. And although she had difficulty recognizing objects, she always lit up when I showed her my latest OESH design. I loved giving her the very first pair of any new style we made just as much as she loved wearing them.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.