I’m writing up anecdotes about my father for his pending memorial service, and I looked at the ones I wrote for my mother. I realized that many of them were pretty darn funny. I think that sometimes I get a bit snarky about my mother in print but here are some warm and funny memories I have of her.
ANECDOTES & MEMORIES OF RENATE BOJIC (These were written to my sister so the “you” references are to her)
1. When we went to Europe and Aunt Maria had misread Mom’s “24” as “27” so we had no one to pick us up in Luxembourg and take us to Holland, so we had to take a train, and we had a layover of – I seem to remember 12 hours, but that seems like an exaggeration – in Belgium. Mom was so exhausted that she fell asleep with her head hanging to the side in the aisle, and the conductor walked into her and she woke up with a loud SNORT! And we all laughed.
2. Of course there’s the famous time you got her to drink dishwashing liquid at the health food store.
3. She had a deep and abiding love for sour cream and believed everything tasted better with sour cream on it. (I got that from her.) She used to make sour cream sandwiches on rye bread. I would take them to grade school but they didn’t always taste as good after being in a paper bag all morning.
4. Mayonnaise was also a passion and you couldn’t have too much. I remember her asking a waitress if the egg salad was good, and the waitress said, “Yes, it’s very good – a really nice balance, and not too much mayonnaise,” and Mom just looked at her in horror and said incredulously, “But I like mayonnaise!”
5. She was a fierce defender of us. If anyone was going to yell at us publicly, it would be HER! I remember when the priest at my first teaching job berated me in front of the school and I called her crying that I was so humiliated and embarrassed. Later that day, she called me and told me, “You know what I did? I called Father Grohall.” I was horrified! But then she reassured me that she didn’t say she was my mother, she just identified herself as a mother whose daughter had told her that she was very upset about how he had treated the music teacher, and gave him a piece of her mind. The poor old coot was racking his brain trying to figure out just which student had a mother with a foreign accent, and kept asking her, “Are you Maria’s mother? Jenny’s?” and she told him, “I won’t tell you because I don’t want you to take it out on my daughter.” (Nasty old fart deserved it.)
6. She and Daddy came to visit me in Baltimore. It was the first time they’d met Bill and he helped carry their very heavy suitcase into my apartment. When we opened it, we discovered that Mom had filled it with frozen solid chicken breasts that she had bought on sale before she left so that I would have enough to eat. I took it completely for granted – Bill was shocked!
7. I remember her making strudel. From scratch. Stretching the dough over the table so that it was paper thin (no prepackaged phyllo dough!) and then sprinkling it with flour and butter and filling it with raisins and apples and whatever else went in.
8. I also loved her potato salad. Mom wasn’t the most creative cook, especially when it came to meat and veggies, but I remember she made great potato salad. And that strudel!
9. She loved The Dean Martin Show.
10. I still watch General Hospital and One Life to Live because I watched them with her – first, in the case of GH, when I’d come home from morning kindergarten and she’d be watching it while ironing. My job was to fold hankies and washcloths while she ironed. I would ask questions like, “Why is that lady having a baby when she’s not even married?” and she would tell me, “She was secretly married.” OLTL started a few years later and we started watching it together during my summer breaks.
11. She loved Bob Hope. We went to County Stadium once to see him. I remember it was raining and I don’t know if we actually saw him, but I know that we stayed and waited.
12. When Mr. Maeste’s son from his first marriage found him and came to the US to see him, it was a big deal – apparently Mr. Maeste had gotten one of the local news channels involved as a human interest story, and they came to the airport to cover the reunion. All Maeste’s friends were invited, and Mom bought a new outfit (including a HAT) because she would be on TV. Daddy refused to wear anything new and Mom was really upset about the shirt he chose to wear. Guess who got on TV? Daddy, strolling through the airport while the voiceover said, “And Vello and his friends continue to wait….” Mom was SO mad!
13. I was taking a music history exam at Alverno. My teacher was Louise Kenngott, the Journal’s then-music critic, and I found her both intimidating and someone I looked up to. All of sudden, during the exam, I hear a tap-tap-tap at the window and I see Mom. She’s got some knit hat pulled over her head somewhat askew and she is gesturing for me to come to the door. I was horrified. I looked back at my paper. Tap-tap-tap again, I look up, and she makes this funny grimace that says, “Oh, Christine, help me!” I look at Louise and she says, “Go ahead.” So I go to the door and out in the hall, and say, “What IS it? I’m taking an exam!” and she said, “I lost my keys in a pile of remnants at Minnesota Fabrics.” I turned over the keys and said, “Well, how did you get here?” and she told me she had hitched a ride with a trucker. I was so nonplussed that when I went back in, I forgot to finish the question I had been answering when she knocked at the window. I think I got everything else right, but that one I didn’t.
14. When you were a baby, you had a splinter or something, and I remember Mom getting out a magnifying glass to look at it, and you seeing her giant eyeball looking at you and screaming bloody murder. She felt so bad that she scared her baby!
15. She was a fan of WOKY radio when it was a top 40 station, and they had a prize with a “phrase that pays.” You had to send in a postcard with your name and phone # and they would pick #s at random, and if you answered the phone with “I listen to fun-lovin’ WOKY!” you won money. Well, they said, “We’re making a call right now!” and her phone rang, and she blurted out, “I listen to fun-lovin W-Oak!” and there was a pause and then the DJ said, “Close enough! You get the money!”
16. She would sing along to songs that were just inappropriate for her! I remember her singing the end of Harry Chapin’s Taxi: “Taking tips … and getting stoned!” Cracked me up every time. But she didn’t always get words right. She thought the words to “You’re so vain” were, “I had some dreams, they were cows in my coffee.” I said, “Mom, it’s CLOUDS,” and she said, “That’s stupid, how do you get clouds in your coffee?” (I guess cows = cream)
17. She would design her own tops. They were all based on a square – a square body, a square neckline – but she was so proud of them.
18. When she told jokes, she’d always explain them at the end. Bill called it the “Renate Bojic Post-Joke Explanation.” I don’t know if it was because she was afraid she wasn’t clear because English wasn’t her first language but she did it with EVERY joke. Until I was over 30, I never realized that the joke should end with
“he got a little closer and saw her on the grave .” I always told the joke the same way, adding the line, “I am cooling the grave.” (I think I knew enough to leave out the NEXT explanation, “You see, she wanted to get married again, so she was trying to make the grave cooler faster!”)
When I write my anecdotes about my father, I will post them here.