by Glen Creason
This is supposed to be about a concert by the Mannheim Steamroller and sure enough I did attend the show and listened to their crisp, wonderfully orchestrated performance. However, my thoughts were miles, indeed years away. After fourteen years of writing here I guess my readers might give me a pass since this was the weekend I had to bid farewell to my Mom. The final curtain fell on her grand performance, Monday April 23 as her entire family gathered to cheer her into eternity. On Sunday, in a full church at Forest Lawn I summoned up a lot of words to describe her good deeds and love for a family but the best words in Mister Webster’s dictionary just won’t come close to giving her, her due.
My Mom took me to my first musical performance in Long Beach when I was a little kid and despite my lack of enthusiasm for whomever that Liberace guy was she continued to make sure I got exposed to music, theater and even the unique Hollywood Bowl experience. My first movie was at the South Gate Drive-In and even if “the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms” will never make a “best of” list, Mom was holding me in her lap when the monster roared out of the sea. We visited the old Biltmore Theater and set in motion a lifetime love of staying on the audience side of the footlights, enjoying “My Fair Lady,” “Fiorella,” and “Bye Bye Birdie” to name just a few. Mom also liked to sing at home in a soprano somewhere between Vera Lynn and Jo Stafford. Perry Como was a big man in our home and when Ed Sullivan introduced the new music called Rock and Roll she even let us watch the show. I can see it on my memory movie screen: the lady shaking and rattling and rolling to Bill Haley back when such noise was new.
She was a Cerritos visitor occasionally and loved the big hall, the buzz in the theater before a performance and sitting in press seats with her ink-stained son. She last accompanied me to the Center to see the Ballet Jorgen performance of “Cinderella” a year ago March, using a walker to slowly make it to her seat. A loosely interpreted family legend had it that my Dad had never taken my Mom to the ballet and I gallantly offered my escort. Truth was that she had been many times, indeed my Dad took her to the theater hundreds of times but true to her gentle nature she let me think I was a hero. I was still in her debt about one hundred to one from my first record album she paid for at “Wallach’s Music City” to the performance of “Hair” at the Aquarius Theater when the hippie character hopped up on the arms of her chair in a loin cloth and darn near gave my Dad a coronary.
Her hearing faded away in her mid-80’s but she could still appreciate the rich tones of big band and her memories of dancing to Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller on Catalina Island were reawakened in the big hall when we saw the orchestra with her peers at a Sunday matinee. We had a great time a decade ago, taking three generations to see “Cats” and having a grand dinner at Arte Café including a festive martini to commence the feast. Even after four children, eleven grand and 17 great grandchildren her hair was barely speckled with gray and her mind was as clear and strong as it had been when she was a youngster. She was kind, generous, reliable and as honest as any person I have ever encountered. Her word was like legal tender and she never let us down, ever. Thanks to my great friends at the paper I had the extreme good fortune to pay tribute to this wonderful Mother in columns here four times and each brought her tears of joy. She used to love to read my words on the pages of the Los Cerritos Community News and it is with the heaviest of hearts that I pen the very last in her name.