My mother said she loved me whenever she and my sister and I sat down on the tattered couch in our three room furnished apartment in the Blackstone Mansions on the South side of Chicago getting ready to go over the new song sheet. In the mid-40’s, they published a weekly magazine that had the lyrics to all the songs on “The Hit Parade” for that week. The magazine was no more than 12 or 14 pages and the corner drug store had the latest one each Friday. It took us about an hour or so to get through the songs. It was one of the few activities that the three of us did together. My father seldom joined in except from the other room if it was a song he liked. I loved listening to my Mother’s voice. It had a sort of Bessie Smith tone to it. I even learned not to mind my sister’s tone-deaf renditions because for that one hour during the week, nobody had another place to go. It didn’t matter if there were paper curtains on the windows. Or dirty dishes in the sink. It didn’t even matter that we would see a cockroach or two in the bathroom in t he middle of the night. It just mattered that we sang the lyrics to the right tunes while we sat very close together …the three of us on the couch.
My mother said she loved me the day she packed her bags and walked out the door not telling us where she was going or when she would be back. My father didn’t seem to feel the need to explain anything more to my sister and me. We just continued our routine…my father went to work…my sister and I went to school. I was as devastated as a seven year old could be. I wrote my Mother a letter but didn’t know where to send it. My Father took me to the new Disney movie to cheer me up. I cried most of the time in the theatre. He didn’t ask me why. And then one day, without any explanation, my Mother called and said she was coming home. Our life eased back to the way it was.
My mother said she loved me after letting me know that there was no money for college and no real interest on the part of my parents in sending me there. They hadn’t stopped me from applying to schools but maybe they just didn’t know I was doing it. We had never discussed finances, or lack there of, so when I told her I needed a check for the deposit, I was blindsided by the realization that the experience of a college education would never be mine. Working days and going to school nights was the replacement. Years later during the ceremony when my eldest son was graduating from college, I looked at her and said, “How could you not have wanted this for me”? She wiped the tears from my face, shrugged her shoulders and smiled, “I never thought about it, Honey”.
My mother said she loved me when she and my father explained there would be no big wedding for me. I would not be walking down the aisle on my father’s arm, wearing a white wedding dress with a matching veil trailing behind me. I would not dance the first dance with my husband in front of family and friends. I would not have a five tiered wedding cake baked in our bakery and decorated by my father’s hands. Instead, I was married in the livingroom in a pink dress with a pink wedding cake made by strangers in front of the immediate family and my three best friends.
On the day my Mother passed away, I was sitting next to the hospital bed which we had set up in the livingroom of her apartment. She was going in and out of consciousness while I held on to her hand and I softly sang a Jewish lullaby that was one of her favorites.
She looked up and said “I love you” and closed her eyes. I knew I would never hear those words from her again. I leaned over and kissed her forehead and whispered, “I love you, too, Mom.”
Brenda Mutchnick: My career started out in the world of Advertising – where I honed my marketing skills through a ten year assocation with Clinton Frank Advertising in both Chicago and Los Angeles.
I joined Paramount Pictures in 1974 and have since remained in the entertainment marketing arena, holding key executive positions at both Paramount and 20th Century Fox.
I founded Roooster Entertainment, an entertainment marketing company in 1998, creating and developing materials for a wide variety of motion picture, television, cable, video and corporate clients.
My first children’s book, A Noteworthy Tale, was published by Abrams Books and translated into three languages. I have lectured on television, film and video marketing at UCLA, USC and Fordham University and am an active member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Currently, I reside in Beverly Hills while working on a book of essays covering subject matter from childhood to career to lovers to marriage to aging.
I am 77 years old … but only chronologically!