The older I get, the more I realize how much I’m like my mother.
Mom loved movies. Some she could watch over and over and over again. Which meant her kids watched them over and over and over again, too. I do that, too.
I wasn’t with mom when she and my sisters went to see “ET, the Extra-Terrestrial.” Mom loved the movie. She said laughed as ET hid among the stuffed animals. She laughed as ET discovered drinking and saw how it affected others. She cringed when the “bad guys” captured ET . Then, when ET was rescued and finally got to go home, she cried like a baby.
But mom didn’t just cry. She sobbed. She bawled. She blubbered. She describes the blouse she was wearing that day as wadded up and soaked with tears and whatever other mucous runs out of your nose when you cry that hard. She laughed about it later, but she was mortified as my sisters and her left the movie house. She knew how she must look. And then she realized that half of the people walking out of the movie that night had a similar look.
Mom loved “Gone with the Wind.” She had a thing for Clark Gable. I remember watching that movie, too. More times than I wanted. The first time, it last at least two nighter on regular TV. Those were really, really long nights. I got her a 1,000-piece “Gone with the Wind” puzzle for Christmas one year. She loved jigsaw puzzles. But I don’t know if she ever put that puzzle together. Perhaps, seeing Rhett and Scarlett in little pieces was too hard to take.
Mom’s favorite was “The Sound of Music.” I remember watching it at a theater in downtown Mansfield, at a theater in St. Cloud, Florida and numerous times at home. We had piano books with the music in it. I remember a record album with songs from the movie and to this day I remember the lyrics to most of those songs, where the song was staged in the movie and who was singing it. They were great songs: “The Hills are Alive,” “D0-Re-Me,” “Climb every Mountain,” “Edelveiss,” “Maria,” “Sixteen, going on Seventeen,” “My Favorite Things and “So Long, Farewell,” (which was my favorite).
As I grew older, our movie tastes grew more different. I’ll still watch “The Sound of Music.” I will watch ET if I have to. But I will never sit through another viewing of “Gone With the Wind.”
My mom and I also shared sick senses of humor.
Mine is perhaps a bit darker than hers. But we both loved off-color jokes and stories. Mom was funny and witty. When I talked to people she worked with at her calling hours and funeral, that’s something they talked about a lot. She was also a nurse. I’ve learned that nurses have wickedly, odd senses of humor … and that absolutely nothing is off limits.
Mom shared some of her best stories at the dinner table. The really good ones included medical anecdotes, uncomfortable descriptions and too on-point descriptions and explanations. She had a good friend, Susan Bankert. Susan had an apartment in Sandusky, but was a surgery nurse in Galion. She spent a lot of night in our house and at our dinner table. I tell people all the time that there was rarely a family dinner at the Kent house that didn’t include talks of bowel movements, bowel resections, surgery procedures or other explicit details about body parts and fluids.
To this day, it’s pretty much impossible to gross me out.
I thank my mom for that skill, too.
Mom loved animals. She loved real zoos, petting zoos and drive-thru zoos. She talked often of Jitterbug, a little mongrel mutt she grew up with on State Street in Mansfield. I never met Jitterbug, but I feel like I know her will. I do remember Midnight, a beautiful, friendly black cocker spaniel.
We moved to a house on Summit Street in Galion when I was maybe five years old. We always had pets. Many were adopted, strays that had been dropped off by someone else in a then, much-less-busy Heise Park. Eventually, they made their way to our corner of Heise Park and were welcomed with open arms and plenty of leftovers.
Snoopy was a beagle, or so we thought, but he never stopped growing. Rags, a red mangy cat, was the champion tomcat of Galion. I don’t remember where Rags come. But we surely didn’t buy that mangy old cat. Rags was a fighter. He was in a lot of battles with , and a few dogs. And he never lost a fight. He always managed to limp back home where he’d be doctored up by my mom or one of the Dr. Eppersons. By the time Rags died, he had one eye, one ear, dozens of scars and had survived being run over by at least two cars. But he loved us as much a we loved him.
We had lots of cats and dogs through the years. I don’t remember mom not having a pet. There were ducks, chickens, rabbit, fish and a guinea pig that refused to die. Ask me sometime our last two rabbits, Polly and Red. Fifty years later, it’s still a great story.
Maybe 10 years ago, we found five kittens in a shed in my yard. Mama cat had died or abandoned them. The kittens were in bad shape when we found them. You could hold them in the palm of your hand. But mom took it upon herself to try to nurse them back to health … eye-dropper by eye-dropper. Two died the first day. A third kitten, all white, was doing well, but died a couple weeks after the rescue. The other two? They are alive and kicking.
Now, they keep my dad company.
I adopted a white pitbull five years ago. Beatrix loves her extended family. She craves attention and hugs and butt rubs and is not shy about contorting her body to receive some love. And she loved being let loose at mom and dad’s house every now and then. She’s not the most disciplined puppy, And can be a bit rough when she’s showing affection. But mom always loved it when Beatrix jumped on the couch or chair next to her to get a little loving.
Thanks mom, for my love of animals.
Mom liked to cook, and she liked to try out new ingredients and new foods and different types of restaurants.
I remember trying to help out as she canned green beans or tomato juice or tomato sauce or peaches and even beef a few times. I helped her make jams and jellies and salsa. I remember making home-made donuts at Halloween. Oh, how I loved those!
I can spend all day in a kitchen trying out recipes and new ingredients. Rarely do I order the same menu item at a restaurant. I want something different.
Thanks mom for giving me that sense of adventure.
Now that mom is gone, I’m the only one in my family with a taste for really, spicy food. My sister Jenny and Lindy, my niece, like a little spice, but not as much as my mother and I.
Mom died last April. This is our second Mother’s Day without her. And our family is doing what we always do on holidays. The crowd will be a little smaller this year. But we will be cooking and eating and laughing and sharing.
The menu is BBQ ribs, asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, cheesy potatoes, corn on the cob, a fruit salad and more.
Everyone will chip in. We always do.
Mom would approve.
This is the Kent clan at a program honoring my mom at Signature Healthcare. In the front row are Nancy Kent and Dick Kent. In the back row are Russ Kent, Bob Kent, Jenny Eachus, Cindy Voss and Rick Kent.
Email Russ Kent at [email protected]