Williams Isaly Shuman, my mother, met my father,
Bud Isaly, on a blind date.
They were married in 1949 and I was born in 1951.
When my parents' marriage ended shortly after
I was born, I went to live with Gramma and Grampa
Isaly on Arlington Avenue and my mother lived
in Grandview, just a few miles away. I saw her
occasionally on weekends, but after my father
died in an automobile accident when I was not
quite two years old, Gramma and Grampa were the
mother and father figures in my life.
mother worked as a tax accountant most of her
life, and she kept the books for her father's
American Motors auto dealership in Grandview.
the last two years of high school and during college,
I had no contact with Bette (I never quite knew
what to call her!), although there had been no
argument or anything specific to cause this separation;
we simply drifted apart.
1975, I called my mother on a whim; I was curious
about her life and what she'd been doing since
we'd last seen each other, six years earlier.
She was happy to hear from me and we met for lunch
at the Red Door Tavern in Grandview. We were both
pretty nervous - I do remember that!
became reacquainted and although it's hard to
describe the dynamic, we developed a very lovely,
interesting, and important relationship; neither
of us felt a traditional mother-daughter bond,
but we nurtured quite a special friendship.
really did love Billy
and Robby, and indulged
them with presents. In addition to her home in
Grandview, she had little mobile home and a pontoon
boat at Indian Lake, and in the summertime, Bill
and I took the boys up there so that Bette could
take them on the boat, let them "drive"
and then take them for hamburgers at their favorite
funky restaurant at the lake - the "Tilton
Hilton," named because it actually sits crooked
and has slanted floors! The boys loved the Indian
Lake days. We all did!
became ill with respiratory problems and suffered
respiratory arrest one weekend at Indian Lake.
Nineteen days later, on July 9, 1992, she died
from kidney failure, a complication of her respiratory
arrest (it was her death that prevented me from
attending Matt and Kim's
unconventional as our mother-daughter relationship
was for the first 24 years of my life, I take
from it only good memories from the years after
we rediscovered each other in 1974. The not-so-fabulous
memories from my early childhood are vague and
distant, and they simply don't matter.