It is hard to believe that five years have passed since my dear Mother died at age 102 in her home in Pasadena. Linnea (aka Benny) was remarkably healthy and maintained her spirit and independence right up to her final day.
This classic vintage photo of her 1930 High School Basketball team became one of my favorite pictures of my Mom –one that taught me a lot about women, hoops and dreams.
When my former husband and I moved from Pasadena to Pismo Beach in 1982 we decided to invite our many Pasadena friends including my Mom and her friends, to a party at our beautiful ocean-view home. It was a 2-day shindig culminating in a family Soccer Game at Shell Beach School dividing kids and adults. Mom at the ripe age of 79 was goalie on the opposing team. Towards the end of the game I watched in horror as my mom did a diving save to prevent my team from scoring. In spite of injuring her shoulder, she saved the ball and drop-kicked it out. As we walked off the field at the game’s end, I asked Mom why she had gone to such extreme lengths to save the ball.
“Well, I didn’t want you to score,” she replied rather indignantly. Until that moment I had always thought of my Mom as a very humble, quiet, and let others walk-all-over-her sort of person. Suddenly I realized she had a very competitive inner soul I had never really noticed.
“I wanted to be a Woman’s Basketball Coach” she chirped. “I loved sports!”
Knowing my Mom’s love of Golf and Bowling, this was new. I continued, “Why didn’t you become a coach? You would have been great!” thinking about how she coached her grandson at age 5 to dribble a soccer ball with both feet.
But then the truth comes out… “I would have had to have a Speech Class in College and I’m scared to death of public speaking so I decided to go to Business School Instead.
At that moment I thought about her career and what could have been for her back in the 1930’s! I thought about it even more at her 100th birthday party when I found this long lost Basketball Team Photo from Colburn in Waterville Maine and put it on display along with her flapper prom dress from 1927, her Swedish costumes from childhood and myriad photos (we don’t throw anything away-it’s genetic).
But the basketball issue thrilled me even more when 6 foot 5 inches tall Clarence, her mailman for 27 years in Pasadena, attended the celebration at the Pasadena Senior Center. This was special as Clarence watched out for my Mom as she aged and the Macular Degeneration robbed her of her sight. He would put stamps on letters or address the envelopes for her as she so vigorously tried to write friends and family. He was a government employee who went above and beyond the call of duty but I digress…
Clarence zeroed in on the Basketball photo and approached my Mom. I still remember him arching his tall lanky body over her 5 foot frame in order to speak into her “good ear”.
He asked her if she was “allowed” to dribble. She answered, “Of course not!” (I don’t know about you but I certainly didn’t know that women were not allowed to dribble in basketball until the 50’s!). Clarence went on to chat how he had always dreamed of being a coach as well. As I watched and listened to them discuss their mutual love of basketball with such passion it reminded me of how many of us don’t get the opportunity to follow our true callings for whatever reason.
So on this Mother’s Day, with this photo, I choose to remember my Mom as a young woman on the brink of her adult life as a Women’s Basketball Coach and fulfilling her hoops and dreams!
Happy Mother’s Day to All!