Thinking of Mom – Off the Record
By Kevin Sweeney
May 5, 2016
A few years ago, at a Thanksgiving dinner at my brother’s house in St. Paul, my mother confided to me, “You know, I might not be around much longer.”
“Why?” I asked. “Are you moving to Miami or something?” My mother is 96 years old, a fact you’d never guess from her appearance. (Here she is in a photo take last spring at my nephew’s high school graduation.)
She lives on her own in a residence on the University of St. Catherine that once was a retirement home for nuns but was expanded into a residence for not only nuns but pious women, such as my mom.
Mom has had an exciting and drama-filled life. Most of the drama, I admit came from raising the seven children she and Dad had, starting right after they got married when Dad got home from World War II. My oldest sister, in fact, may be the original Baby Boomer.
But Mom had her moments in her own right. She said that John Dillinger once bought her a jelly doughnut.
This was back in the days, you understand, when St. Paul was known as a hideout for gangsters. Author Chad Lewis recently spoke at the library how corrupt St. Paul Police Commissioner John O’Connor had a deal with the nation’s most wanted. They could hang out in St. Paul, with no fear of police, as long as they registered when they arrived – and paid a fee to O’Connor.
Anyway, Mom said one day she and a friend were standing outside the neighborhood bakery, noses pressed to the glass as they looked at the pastry. A man passing by asked them, “What’s your favorite doughnut?”
“Bismarcks,” Mom said. I don’t know what her friend liked. The man took them inside, bought them each a doughnut, and went on his way. Later, Mom saw the man’s photo in the paper – it was John Dillinger.
Mom has a knack for storytelling and is a museum of knowledge about the family history. She is a bright student of politics who couldn’t believe her son once wrote an editorial endorsing that “jackass” George W. Bush.
She takes a keen interest in the lives of all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She knows how many there are and all their names, which is more than I do.
Mom at 96 takes a lot more naps than she used to, but who wouldn’t?
On Mothers Day I’m sure she will be surrounded by the many children, grandchildren and great-grands, glad that she hasn’t moved off to Miami quite yet. Read More.