I probably spent more time with my mom than any other person on this planet. The first nineteen years until I moved out. Then some years later when I relocated to San Diego I spent six months sleeping on a fold-out in her apartment while I figured out what my next move would be. She was very patent with a late blooming son. Later when I returned to college I lost a roommate and she had to quit her job because of health, so we became roommates when I was in my late twenties. She believed in me, and was the first person to read my first novel, because she retyped ever page (she was very good) so that my manuscript would be presentable when I sent it in.
Born Lulu Estelle Allen, my mother changed her name when she began her singing career in 1936. Leaving her home town of Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1939 she moved to Chicago where she lived for a short while with her oldest brother, Lyle, and his wife Mabel.
While there she was told by her close friend Norman Luboff that the Xavier Cugat Orchestra was in the city and auditioning singers. She won a spot as a back-up singer. My mother traveled around the country, recorded albums, worked in films with the band, played live on radio and at many USO concerts and met my father, Raymond Elias Gonzalez. They were married in 1944.
My mother was widowed twice. First in 1950 when my father died of complications of pneumonia and a reaction to penicillin. My adoptive father, Felix E. Feist, died in 1965. They had been married since 1955, and he was pretty much the only father I knew.
She was a rabid Dodgers fan from the day they signed Jackie Robinson until the day they traded her beloved Dusty Baker to the hated Giants--for which she never forgave them, At that point she turned her back on them and embraced the San Diego Padres in her adopted home town. That was 1984 when the Padres won their first National League Pennant, so she picked a good time to switch loyalties. She suffered and rejoiced with the Padres from that point on, listening to just about every game on radio if she couldn't watch on TV. Legally blind from macular degeneration for the last ten years, she could still rise, bathe and dress herself, get down and make her own breakfast, and go shopping until about two years ago. Since then she's had assistance.
Late in life mom developed Alzheimer's and the last three and a half years have been difficult. But throughout that time she managed to stay mostly independent, living in her own home all but the last three weeks of her life. She was the second youngest of eleven children, surviving them all but one, her younger brother Lloyd. She is also survived by my younger brother, a younger half-sister, a bunch of grandkids and a lot of sweet memories and a few dark ones. Mom traveled, sang, and raised two sons and a step-daughter. To say her last days were good would be false, but they were managed, and the best they could be. Her life was just that, a life. There were great memories and some not-so-great, but she touched a lot of hearts. Since the Alzheimer's began, I've been missing my mom. I miss her even more today than every before.
Copyright 10th March 2010 by Raymond E. Feist.
No reproduction without permission.