Sunday, May 13, 2007

Strong Women

Traveled to Pasadena this brilliant Mother's Day afternoon to see the matinee performance of Somerset Maugham's "The Constant Wife" at the Pasadena Playhouse.

Debuting in New York in 1926, this feminist play depicts a late 19th century British woman's desire for "economic freedom" from her husband so she's not subject to society's double-standard on marital infidelity (OK for men to do it, bad for women to do it). In other words Maugham wrote a comedy of manners with a progressive social conscious.

A perfect play for me to see on Mother's Day as today marks a sad milestone for me: my first Mother's Day without any Mothers left.

My Mother, Joyce Carol, died in 2001. My maternal Grandmother, Alice Fliegner, died in 2004. And my Grandmother Green died, after a long convalescence, last summer.

Over time I've come to realize how much they each have had a profound impact on my life and personality.

Joyce Carol lived her life to the fullest. Regardless of logic or practicality, if she wanted to do something she did it. I learned a lot about ambition and adventure from her.

After moving to Los Angeles in the early 50s, Alice Fliegner drove a truck delivering machine parts throughout Los Angeles County. She liked to joke the traffic was a lot better before they put all the freeways in.

Fliegner was kind to everyone and I never saw her say a cross word (except to her son-in-law, my Father.) I learned a lot about humanity from her. Making her laugh was always a source of joy and felt like a worthwhile accomplishment. I got my desire to be funny from her (but I learned how to actually do it from her husband (my Grandfather, Harold Fliegner).

In their own way each was a feminist -- though Maxie Green would be horrified by the label. She did, however, work outside the home her entire life (mostly in the cafeteria at Harbor City College before I was born and when I was little). She had strong political and religious opinions and certainly didn't defer to her husband (my other Grandfather, Victor Green) in these areas. I learned how to stand up for my opinions and to hold my ground from her.

I spent a lot of time thinking about each of them today and wish I could have seen them.

Sorry for bringing the room down. Back to pop culture tomorrow......
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