“What if” is a writer’s territory. If we didn’t have an active imagination, there would be no fantasy, no fiction, no Harry Potter, Holden Caulfield, Bridget Jones, or Hamlet.

It’s my mother’s 94th birthday today, July 22, a significant occasion, especially if she had lived. I am reminded of that “what if” as more of that WWII generation dies. My mother’s immediate family has been gone since 2007 when her favorite sister, Rosebud Peace Motley Coleman died at the age of 89. There were originally six sisters and two brothers, starting in 1904 in North Carolina and ending up in Danville, Virginia. I’m thankful I have so many memories of this loving and original family with whom I spent my first few years of life.

Mama with Baby "Viki"

Mama with Baby “Viki”

Luckily, I still have cousins to share memories and they have children, so the family that started with Bertha Jake Motley and Edwin P. Motley in Anson County, N.C. continues to thrive.

My mother stopped at three children and only lived long enough (age 52) to briefly get to know my two children. She missed out on my sister Tupper’s brood of five. Coming from a family of eight and being a friendly Southerner (Is there any other kind?), Mom had always enjoyed people in general, a valuable trait as the wife of an Army colonel. I know she would have embraced the opportunity of nurturing grandchildren. I remember her visit to Los Angeles when I was a young bride. She told me she was checking up to make sure I had children in mind and wanted to breed! Heidi wasn’t even a thought in my mind yet, much less Hansi.

Mom and Dad retired in San Antonio, Texas, built their dream house and then her kidney disease took over. Besides the lack of advanced knowledge of this disease in the 1970s, there were too many complications and my mother passed on within a couple of years.

Rewind…I’m going to indulge my flights of fancy here and create a different life for her. She and Dad (they had a contentious relationship after two decades of marriage) would have gotten amicably divorced after trying the supposed idyllic retired life in Texas, and Mom wouldn’t have developed kidney disease.

In my imagination, since I was married and settled in Southern California, Mom would have packed up and come to live nearby. Only in her early 50s, with lots of creative energy, she might have turned to her seamstress skills to keep herself busy. With her looks, personality and sense of humor, I can picture her meeting a handsome man in costume design for the studios. It would lead to lucrative work on several Oscar-winning movies, independent films, etc. Having spent years as an Army “gypsy,” the crazy life in Hollywood would appeal to her, and she would’ve make plenty of friends while enjoying all the social events. She would never have been too busy for her children and grandchildren, of course. Her life would’ve been so full and blessed that she wouldn’t have been ready to leave the planet until she was 100.

My mom, 1967, at Top of Topanga with a view of San Fernando Valley--what a difference almost 50 years later.

My mom, 1967, at Top of Topanga with a view of San Fernando Valley–what a difference almost 50 years later. She would have fit in with Southern California life.

Although she didn’t get to live the script in my mind, she would have laughed at my ideas. And that’s the best part—it didn’t take much for her to laugh.

As the song goes, “I can dream, can’t I?”

One Comment

  1. Diana Becker Mullins says:

    Such a loving tribute to your precious mother, who inoculated you with her imagination, love of the search, and caring family and relatives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Technorati button Reddit button Myspace button Linkedin button Webonews button Delicious button Digg button Flickr button Stumbleupon button Newsvine button Youtube button