My Amazing Mother

My mother was truly exceptional, but growing up, it somehow seemed normal that we had couture quality Easter coats she made us every year or that my sister and her dolls always had matching outfits or that she could accurately sketch portraits of the children at our summer club in under a minute or even that her hair was in a perfect French twist secured by a million bobbie pins by the time I came down to breakfast every morning. In an age long before blogs, Martha Stewart or Project Runway, my mother’s creative energy knew no bounds.

A talented artist, who had a long career in various incarnations, her work surrounded us. Childhood guests would embarrassingly giggle as they passed the nude statue in our living room, that we would have to explain was “art.”

We knew that she and my father had met when she served in the Red Cross as an art therapist. My father was a wounded WWII Army Air Corps pilot, recovering at Walter Reed where she was stationed at the time – a very greatest generation story.

And while we knew she had a glamorous side, she was of course just our mom, who could frequently be found at her sewing machine, creating some chic outfit or trying her hand at slipcovers (a one time fling), curtains or later, bedspreads for my college dorm – matching ones for me and my roommate. My first apartment proudly featured the quilt she crafted (my sister received one as well) – each star made from the fabric of a dress she had created for one of us.

Every year she made giant gingerbread houses for my sister’s and my class Christmas parties, adorned with cookies decorated with each student’s name. And every holiday, no matter how minor, required a fully coordinated tablescape. On sick days, we were always thrilled to use our special clown mats with the squeeky nose and sip our favorite orange “freezes,” a secret recipe guaranteed to assuage scratchy throats. While culinary skills were actually not my mother’s forte (my lucky dog was the secret under-the-table recipient of our least favorite dinners), she excelled at sweet treats.

But her real talents emerged at her drawing/painting table and at the sewing machine. Her prints of our local landmarks, some of which are shown above, were sold for years at the Historic Hudson Valley gift shop and her watercolors were occasionally exhibited in local venues.

What I remember most fondly, however, were the charming notes and cards she made. How enchanting is the scene above she drew for my sister or the adorable anniversary card she handmade for me and my husband.


These little enclosure and place cards were very popular at local gift shops  – I still have several sets that I am so glad I saved.

My sister had an important corporate job for years. She had to dress appropriately for all types of functions and my mother made her many beautiful outfits. How perfect that peplums are back!!

And for my sister’s business trips, my mother made her personalized lingerie and shoe bags (the monogrammed bag in the set was MIA when I took this shot)

Of course the holidays saw extra festive creations. My sister still brings her special velvet Christmas stocking to my house every year. And my husband comes to breakfast in his luxurious cashmere bathrobe she made him for a landmark birthday.

My mother made sure my sister’s dog, Hank, was always the best dressed.

As my family grew, my children became the subjects of her creative output – my daughters the recipients of her sartorial talents. I wish I had a better photo of this incredible coat – it’s the most beautiful fabric with exquisite detailing. Every time one of my girls wore it (with matching beret), we were stopped to ask where it was purchased.

And each Halloween, my mother presented the children with sketches from which to choose their costume. Here were some options for the boys.

 

Unlike the commercial variety, my mother’s costumes outlived the trends. My youngest wore many of the same that her older siblings had – all with great little details – check out the pink inside the leopard’s ears.

And of course she was delighted to reprise the role of my little devil

While I have long ago given up trying to fill my mother’s large (literal and figurative) shoes (she wore a 10AAAA), her marvelous creative output keeps her legacy alive for me, my sister and my family. Many say that as we women age we become more and more like our mothers – for me that would be a very very good thing.


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42 Responses to My Amazing Mother

  1. Jessica says:

    What a lovely tribute and beautiful post, Stacey! I remember you telling me all about your mother one day as we rode the train home from the city. How wonderful you still have so much to remember her by!

  2. cecy j says:

    What a wonderful post Stacey. You look so much like her and have so many of the same amazing talents. Cheers + Happy Mother’s Day to you.

  3. Mae says:

    What an amazing tribute to an amazing lady. How fortunate you were to have her as your mother and to have such wonderful memories of her. I should have known that you’d have such artistic roots! Thanks for sharing. Loved this! PS you must wear the suit on Wednesday for Spring Market. Or, if not that, then I demand the leopard suit!!

  4. What a beautiful tribute post to your remarkable mother, I read this post with such joy. Thank you for sharing Stacey – happy mothers day xx

  5. How truly fortunate you & your sister are to have those 10AAAA pumps to fill Stacey. A gorgeous woman, not only amazingly talented, but most important of all, so giving of her time and such love of her family. These are the woman and mothers we want to celebrate today, Mother’s Day. Wishing you a very happy Mother’s Day!
    (and thanks for sharing your mother with us all)

  6. Such a wonderful, touching post, Stacey. Your Mother was beautiful inside and out.
    Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  7. bruce barone says:

    Beautiful!

    Brought tears to my eyes.

  8. pve says:

    What a beautiful Mother! I love how she shared her talents with many and it seemed to bring her just as much joy. Wishing you a splendid Mother’s day.
    pve

  9. This is a beautiful post and tribute to your absolutely lovely and super-creative mother!! Amazing indeed! You can feel her spirit in everything she made and I love all of it. Historic Hudson Valley was so lucky to have her prints… her sculpture, how marvelous and the costume drawings are incredibly charming – right to the finished leopard with pink ears! I can imagine she would be delighted by Quintessence and all of your own creative endeavors. Happy Mother’s Day to you, Stacey! ox

  10. p gaye tapp says:

    Loved this story, I marvel at the time it takes for mothers to Mother & create a beautiful way of Life for themselves and their families. Each and every thing you’ve shared here about your mom is a delight. pure Art in the details. That Coat is liable to be copied outright by some designer any moment!

  11. Chedva says:

    Stacey, what a wonderful post.

  12. We just adore this lovely tribute to your beautiful and super-talented mother. There is so much love in everything she made. Happy Mother’s Day!

  13. Marcy says:

    What a lovely woman, Stacey! Thank you for sharing so many details – and Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  14. Lovely tribute to a talented women…your MOM

  15. Sounds like your Mother was a very filled person in many ways both creative and personally through her family. I think that’s all we can all really hope for. Happy Mother’s Day to you and your family Stacey. Enjoy your day!

    Hugs!
    Debra

  16. Lucrecia says:

    Lovely post. Happy day for all the mother`s that makes the world better for their children.

  17. Elle says:

    You ARE her in so many ways…..happy mothers day. Xo

  18. Kari Kotulsky says:

    Stacey now I know where you get your beautiful hair and looks from! That is what Mother’s Day is all about sharing our wonderful memories. Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  19. dr pat allen says:

    Dear Stacey and T,
    I knew your mother for many many years and loved having her as part of my life. She was interesting, curious, empathic, creative and always always joyful. My mother who just had a 93rd birthday remembers the Darien art dates that she shared with your mother with great fondness. In an age where there are so many bad mother stories (real at times, alas) it is heartening to read about your mother and my friend.

    Dr. Pat

  20. Dash says:

    That was a beautiful tribute to your Mother, I feel quite teary! What an amazing and talented woman.
    X

  21. Laurie says:

    All mothers have some special gifts, but your mother’s were extraordinary. Thank you for sharing her with us. Happy Mother’s Day, Stacey.

  22. linda pederson says:

    This brought tears to my eyes-How very lucky you are to have all of your treasured memories.

  23. Catherine Stephenson says:

    What a lovely remembrance!

  24. Thank you for sharing your amazing mother and her gifts of being in the present moment and daring to express a creative life . So inspiring to me, as a mother and grandmother to see the impact goodness and love can have on the future. I had a mother who could not mature beyond her internal pain enough to be really present; nevertheless, she had many loving aspects and great taste which I am only beginning to give credit for my own creative bend. Her’s wishing a super fantastic Mother’s Day. Mary

  25. Erika says:

    What extraordinary memories you have of your amazing mother! I love the beautiful outfit she created for your sister. What a legacy! Thank you for sharing ;)

  26. Betty Baker says:

    What an incredible lady your mother was.It is days like Mother’s Day that we remember all these wonderful they did to make us the women we are today. She was so beautiful, talented and it must have been a thrill to just be around her. Happy Mother’s Day to you.

  27. Bridget Rudner says:

    A truly touching post for Mother’s Day!

  28. What a remarkable wealth of talent and creativity. Thank you for sharing all of this. Sewing machines and I have never seen eye-to-eye, so I am doubly impressed with her brilliance in this arena.

    I hope you have a splendid Mother’s Day!

  29. thank you stacey for sharing this wonderful and uber talented woman with us. i wonder if she shared your talent for the written word?
    beautiful post
    debra

  30. Irma says:

    I hope my kids can remember me half as brilliantly. Beautiful.

  31. Carla Aston says:

    Lovely post and tribute to your Mother. I love those sketches of the children’s costumes. No doubt you received your appreciation for art and aesthetics from her.

  32. Krista says:

    I loved reading about your wonderful memories of your mother, Stacey. Sounds like she was an incredibly kind and giving woman – on top of being insanely creative (hmmmm…. sound link anyone you know)? Must run in the family! :-)
    Thank you so much for sharing and Happy Mother’s Day to you!
    Krista

  33. Wow! What treasures you have from your Mother. You have her talented spirit. Happy Mother’s Day to you.

  34. Ann says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your mom. She sounds like a fabulous creative and talented mom – and looked like she enjoyed everything she did. She reminds me of a Rita Hayworth or Katherine Hepburn in your photo. I love that she gave you all options for your Halloween costumes. How fun it must have been to have her for a mom……and what a gift to have all that beautiful art work to serve as a reminder of her true talents for generations to come. Beautiful.

  35. Not only is it wonderful to have such an amazing Mother…but the ability to recognize it and value it is something to be cherished now as well…We celebrated my Mother’s 75th with a surprise party here last night…it just leaves me wanting to do even more…life is short and family is precious. Happy Mother’s Day. Mona

  36. kayce hughes says:

    Wow. What a talented artist!

  37. Sandy Donn says:

    How fabulous to grow up surrounded by such love and inspiration – an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing your mother’s gifts.

  38. That was an amazing post! What an incredibly talented woman. Like mother like daughter! I hope you had a wonderful mother’s day.

  39. the zhush says:

    WoW! what a tribute and what a legacy of talent! No doubt your mom would have been thrilled and so proud of Quintessence! So touched by this post.

  40. lindab says:

    Only reading this now. What a beautiful legacy. Not only the things themselves, but the love in every stitch, in every stroke of the brush or pen. Lovely works of creativity. My grandmother sewed and knitted for my sister and me. Matching coats and dresses, similar outfits for our dolls. Baby sweaters and blankets for her great grandchildren, all the while running her own business, which was a rooming house in New Bedford, MA. Where she found time for everything in a day I do not know, but I do remember that she was rarely still. We would go down to the beach in S. Dartmouth for the day when we visited her and, oh, it was a happy day when she would join us for a couple of hours at lunch time…bringing the deviled eggs and cucumber sandwiches. But her laugh, her smile, her warmth were all we truly craved and these were always, always at hand. Such women are a blessing on this earth and you are so fortunate to have had one in your mother. Thank you for posting a portion of her story.

  41. Dear Stacey – I have just read this tribute to an incredible mother and am astonished at her talents. Not only truly beautiful and talented but her output was extraordinary!. What a wonderful childhood you girls had!….. It makes me extra sad that my old mother – 89 is lost to dementia, unable to walk, is blind and unable to talk. Reading this has reminded me of her talents and love and care as well! Thank you!

  42. Lynne Culp says:

    Your mother’s work is so beautiful (as was she). My mother-in-law was also an extremely talented seamstress who actually tailored for me a beautiful fake leopard coat that everyone admired and a ‘groovy’ sixties culotte jumpsuit that was the envy of all of my friends. Because of several moves I made, I did not keep them. You, however, have been smarter and kept pictures and examples.

    I often wonder if women of that generation actually had more talents or was it just that they were restricted to the domestic arena and determined to shine bright within. Your mother is definitely a jewel of the era.

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