Tag Archives: Mary Anna Powers O’Toole

I Need You Tonight- Peter Wolf

Today is October 4, which is my friend Ulysses birthday, my friend Jane’s birthday and my mother’s birthday. My mother was born in 1926, the only girl amongst 5 sons in the Bronx. I only recently got a grip on my mother’s era, she loved movies and I guess she was about 13 when she saw Gone With The Wind when it came out in 1939. I think it was one of her favorite movies, as it was for a lot of people. She was only 7 when King Kong when it first came out, and 5 when both Frankenstein and Dracula were released.

I don’t think she much cared for those movies, but I didn’t know better. I remember when I was growing up, asking my mother if she remembered seeing King Kong climb the Empire State Building. I had problems differentiating between fantasy and reality. Some people might say I still do. My mother more than likely gave me the look of ‘what am I going to do with you’. I was the last born to Francis and Mary, and I am certain I wasn’t planned. There are 3 years between my siblings but between me and Brian there are 5 years.

There were a couple of kids that didn’t make it, Kevin and Mary Margaret are the two that I recall, visiting their headstones in Calgary Cemetery in Queens. There is another child in Valhalla up in Westchester but I forgot their name. I don’t think the plan was to have 7 kids, and if Kevin, Mary Margaret or the other one lived, it’s possible that Brian or myself would not be. Of course that is all speculation on my part since I have no idea what they were thinking, especially that January night 50 years ago.

My mother was definitely a product of her time and like others of her generation, had to face the times that were changing after World War 2. 4 kids that didn’t get into trouble (or at least weren’t caught) where other kids, neighbors and relatives did have scandalous moments. Not us, though that could be attributed to the fact that we were certainly afraid of what our father would say or do if we crossed that line. I remember walking home with my mother from my brother Frank’s apartment a few blocks away, my mother making me swear on her mother’s grave that I wouldn’t do drugs.

I did swear at the time, but eventually I dabbled to say the least. She asked me a few years later if I was smoking pot and I answered that I was, saying that I preferred it to alcohol. She was disappointed, probably heart broken, then surprised when I offered her a chance to smoke with me. Of course she declined, but I saw no reason to lie. She knew from me coming home, red eyed and ravenous. Was she hoping I would lie? I have no idea.

It’s possible she was hoping I would lie to spare her feelings and her fears. I do know she was upset when I came out (and my coming out was not voluntary) and might have gone to her grave in 1991 thinking that I was just going through a phase despite my sister telling her that it was for real. Her passing blindsided us all and sent my life in a direction unforeseen. But that’s life. She almost passed away when she was pregnant with me, having a heart attack. I guess it caught up with her 29 years later.

She is missed to this day and I hope she is enjoying whatever and wherever she might be in this universe.

07 Dreadlock Holiday

I’ll Always Love My Mama

Repost from may 12, 2011

What a day. What a raw day. I’m home now and that’s good. I suppose it was good that I went to work since staying at home wouldn’t actually achieve anything. It’s been a day of sadness and remembrance. Twenty years ago today, my mother passed away on Mother’s Day.

I remember those 24 hours clearly. I remember the night before, after closing Maxwells, heading over to Patti Quinn’s apartment and watching a bootleg of Madonna’s Truth or Dare. What stands out is the scene where Madonna is stretched out on her mother’s grave and I remember thinking how weird that was.

The next day I was working at the video store on Mother’s Day. My mother phoned earlier that week and asked what I was going to be doing, if I was going to make it up there to visit her. I told her I was working on Sunday but I would give her a call.

Somehow we started talking about death and my Mom mentioned that when she goes, she would like to go out like a Viking, put her body on a boat, set it on fire and send it out to sea. I explained that it sounded like a good idea but there might be some problems with the EPA.

A few days later, my brother Frank appears at the video store. He motions me to come outside. The look on his face was not good at all and I was worried that something happened to his wife or kids. No, he was the one to bring me the bad news that my mother had passed away. Doing the New York Times crossword puzzle. Apparently 27 across was a real killer.

She went and it was fast. I was in shock and brought Frank to the office. I was in a state of denial and figured that everyone was wrong. Of course they weren’t. I asked if anyone called Annemarie and Frank mentioned that they were unable to reach her.

I thought I possessed some magical thinking and figured I would be able to get through to our sister when no one else could. Of course no one knew Annemarie and her family were out of town. She eventually came home to some very serious and dire messages that didn’t exactly say what was wrong, just to call home. Now.

Frank and I walked around Hoboken since I was definitely in no condition to work. It was a sunny day, blue skies if I recall and we sat on some stairs belonging to Stevens Tech on Hudson Street. Eventually Frank went home and I wound up at Rand’s apartment.

Rand’s mother passed away when he was a teenager and I hoped that he might have some insight on what to do. Little did I know that there was nothing to do, all Rand could do was be there for me and he was and I will forever be grateful for that.

We may have walked around Hoboken after that, I don’t know. We may have smoked a joint or had some drinks. I do recall winding up at Maxwells, John Bruce behind the bar and me in a state of shock, maybe having a drink of whatever it was I was drinking at the time.

I did not want to be alone and wound up unannounced at Patrick Morrissey’s apartment, waking him and his boyfriend up and asking if I could sleep on his futon. He let me in and I crashed. Things got blurry after that.
Wakes were well attended, a testament to the love that many people had for my mother. Julio gave me a ride to Lodi where I was going to be for the next couple of days. The family, shattered reunited in sadness.

A few days later I am sitting on the back porch, just listening to the radio, Helen Reddy singing You and Me Against the World, where Helens daughter opens and closes the song with ‘I Love You Mommy’. Corny but comforting.

I missed my Mom then and I miss her now. I wish she could have met Bill, I wish she could have seen her grandchildren grow up. Maybe she did, somewhere out in the universe, perhaps looking back and seeing that happen. She was great. I miss you Mary Anna Powers O’Toole. You were the best. I am proud and glad to have known you.

♫ And when one of us is gone and one of us is left to carry on / then remembering will have to do / our memories alone will get us through / Think about the days of me and you / You and me against the world ♪