Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Where is my home?

I've been taking walks with my mother, as she remembers the past very well, the past five minutes might be difficult, as she moves through Alzheimer's, but the past is often clear and even more vivid than a few years ago.

I had always heard of Mom's home at 16 Jane Street, her first home with dad ... and Uncle Dick (Richard DuVal), and for a time, the Belgian writer, Paul De Mann, lived in one of the two ground floor studios which Dad and Mom rented at 20 Jane Street, just to the right of their ground floor apartment. As we came close to Jane Street, Mom turned to me and said, "I am walking here, now, with your father."

I'm walking here with your father again

Dad and Mom met at the home of her almost fiancee, Al Eisman, a set designer, for MGM in Holiwood. Mom had graduated from Cooper Union, which accepted her with no formal art training at the age of 16, in 1932. Just after graduation, she was asked by Al to come to Hollywood and they would decide if they should marry. She met a young actor, asleep on Al's couch, and a few weeks later they were married.

I lived right here in 1947 with your father

Now, here I was standing with Mom in front of the apartment, she showed me the garage across the street where they kept their car, the place where Dad worked at a small restaurant, Mary's, and where, one night, Dad did not come home, and she went out to look for him, and found him staggering down the street drunk.
Florence Otway Winter on Jane St. West Village 1947-9
Up to that night, she did not know he drank ... quite a lot.

Florence Otway and her landlady at 16 Jane St. NYC about 1948
Mom and her landlady at 16 Jane Street in the 1940s.

Their landlady was always trying to get Mom to beleive that Dad was "up to something..." trying to make her jealous.

It didn't work... Mom was not the jealous kind...

Howard and FLorence Otway

She wondered for a moment where her present home was, Saint Marks Place. I described it, and she remembered. When came to our block, she said, "This really is my home. I used to love the West Village, but it is not the same. Now, I really love this place."


Laura said...

I lost my mom last year. She had Alzheimer's also. For several years she was on Aricept and it helped keep the disease for progressing.The last few months were very difficult. I hope your mom is spared the worst of it. One blessing - my mom never forgot who we were.

Melanie said...

People really have great stories--they should be embraced and not forgotten.