One of the many wonderful things about marriage is that it introduces the possibility of inheriting a second set of parents—so very easy to claim when they embrace you like one of their own. It is my great good fortune to enjoy such a privilege. Having just lost my mother, it is wonderful to know that my mother-in-law is here for me, offering all the comfort and kindness any daughter-in-law could ever hope to have. It’s an honor for me to introduce my husband and his amazing mom.
Meet John and Angie.
What do you consider your mother’s greatest strength?
I would have to say her grace under pressure. My mother was an only child who lost her father when she was just 16-years old.
She was a daddy’s girl who adored her father and suddenly he was gone, dead from a stroke. She was devastated by his loss but had little time to grieve. She had to grow up very quickly. She and her mother, a Greek immigrant who spoke little English, moved in with relatives and suddenly she found herself thrust into the grown-up role of helping to raise her two younger cousins. She would deal with other set-backs later in her life with the same grace and courage she had employed as a young teen, most notably when my older brother was diagnosed with manic depression. It was the early 70s—my brother was only 13— a time when the mention of mental illness was taboo. But despite the challenges, my mother dedicated herself to learning as much about the illness as she could, as well as the best treatment options for my brother. She was relentless in her mission to help him—to make his life as full as it could be.
What’s one of the most interesting things about your mom?
My mother attended De Paul University and after graduating went to work for the Hearst Corporation’s, House Beautiful magazine as an executive secretary. She was an amazing typist—a whiz really—she typed something like 100-words a minute. She also had astonishing dictation skills! She left her job when my older brother was born, but in midlife she needed to return to the workforce and she did so effortlessly. She quickly landed an executive secretary job with the Hanes Corporation, where I know she dazzled them with her other-worldly typist and dictation skills.
When you reflect on your childhood, what are some of your favorite mom-moments?
Of course, she always made birthdays very special! Every year, without fail she baked a lemon cake for me—it remains my favorite cake to this day.
I also remember her love of music—music that us kids listened to. I loved the Beatles and as it turned out, so did my mother. I can remember begging her to take my brother and me to see their movies—A Hard Day’s Night and Help—and she didn’t just drop us off at the theatre—she came in with us and enjoyed the movies and music as much as we did. We also had a fun ritual every Halloween when she would take us—my brother and favorite cousins—to Value Ville in Edgebrook, where she would let us walk up and down the aisles searching for Halloween costumes. She never rushed us—she always seemed to be having as much fun as we were!
What’s the best advice your mother ever gave you?
She taught me through her actions, that no matter what comes your way you must persevere and that with faith all will work out in the end. She is truly a doubt-deficient person. She never served up mantras, she lived them. I learned from her that you must never, never give up.
What do you admire most about your mother?
I would have to say her unyielding commitment to my dad. My parents have been married for 55-years and my mother has served as a commendable example of loving another in good times and in bad. Her devotion and love for my dad and for my brother and me is extraordinarily gratifying. She truly is a beautiful person inside and out.
Oh, and one more thing I have to mention—my mother is an amazing cook and baker—some of my favorites are: Her famous Pastistio; her top secret turkey stuffing with pine and chestnuts; and Baklava—the best I’ve ever had!
I love you, mom! Feel free to bring over some Baklava anytime!