Front and Center, Mama

By Sandra Sylvester | May 13, 2012
Photo by: Sandra Sylvester My mother, Evangeline, in red, and Aunt Virginia Poletti, now 101, enjoying their retirement on the whale rock in Sprice Head.

Knox County — This tribute to my mother was written to be read at a party for her 80th birthday. I was not able to be there. Her birthday was in May, so I offer this to honor her special day as well as for all the mothers out there on Mother’s Day.

She’s a woman of few words who believes her role is best played behind the scenes. Well today is the exception because today your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, husband and other family and friends here today would like you to step front and center so that we may say..”God Bless You’’ and “Happy 80th Birthday.”

Mama, you’re the glue that holds this family together.

You taught us our manners.

You taught us respect.

You taught us what is right and proper.

You’re the string around our fingers and the one who pulls most at our heartstrings.

Anyone who ever said that Yankees are cold and inhospitable never spent any time at your house. You had four children but adopted four times who knows how many more. If a guest came to visit more than once, you assumed they really enjoyed themselves the first time and, therefore, you adopted them and they were no longer a guest but adopted as one of the family.

And who can forget all the good food you’ve cooked for us over the years. (Remember when the pressure cooker blew up down on Mcloud Street?) We all have our favorites such as:

New England boiled dinner

Fish chowder

Potato salad

Dandelion greens

Pies: apple, blueberry, chocolate, rhubarb, lemon meringue, mincemeat (all made with home-made pie crust by the way).

Roast pork and baked beans

The Christmas sweets: peanut butter chocolate balls, full stops.

And all the Care Packages with squares and whoopee pies in them.

The remarkable thing is that you can remember what is the favorite specialty of each of us.

Mama, you’re a woman of simple pleasures who appreciates the little things—like a bouquet of wild flowers, humming birds and phoebe birds, or just going to garage sales. Remember the estate auction on Water Street where you bought all that stuff in a laundry bag without knowing what was in it for 50 cents! It contained the pantaloons Nat wore as “something old” for her wedding day; old-fashioned lace and an old-fashioned black collapsible umbrella?

You have always wanted your children to enjoy life to the fullest; to experience new things; to do the best we could with what we had; to take the good with the bad in life; to let bygones be bygones and go on.

We won’t forget what we’ve learned from you.

You commented on the poor shape of an old house we passed once on a back road,

“Look at that house,” you said. “There’s probably an old couple in there all by themselves. The place is going to pot and there’s no one to help them keep it up anymore. There were probably a lot of kids there once and a lot of happy memories, but they’ve all gone now and the old couple is all alone and forgotten. So sad.”

Well let me tell you. That will never happen to you and Daddy. We remember too many good times. You’ll always be front and center in our hearts.

Have a happy day with everyone. And have a taste of lobster for me.


                     Your daughter, Sandra

A Note: When my mother was still cooking she made me some fish chowder when I came home to visit. It was the last meal she ever made for me. It was delicious. Happy Birthday, Mama!

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there!





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