Friday, April 5, 2013

A Tribute

As far back as I can remember, Mom always encouraged me to use my imagination and be as creative as I wanted to be.

Mom had a real creative side to her, which manifested itself mainly in sewing, some scrap-booking, and cooking, and which I took in a very different direction with art, music, and more recently, with writing. And of course, I used my creative talents for things like role-playing and miniatures games. 

Mom's encouragement of my less-mainstream passions always helped me feel "safe" in a world that, back when I was growing up, didn't always look so kindly on boys who were into superheroes and action figures more than they were into playing baseball and wrestling. Nowadays, with the pervasive influence of video games and comics that have entered pop culture, these things usually aren't even given a second thought. But, back in the 70s and 80s, it was considered... let's just say "weird."

Mom never made me feel weird about what I was into. When "Star Wars" came out back in May of 1977, she and Dad took my sister and me to go see it. I was, of course, instantly hooked and the mythos of "Star Wars" has influenced my life up to this very day. It was the first movie I ever saw twice in the theater, as it was re-released that same year around Christmas time and Mom asked my dad to take me to see it again since she knew how much I loved it.

The first Star Wars figures my mom gave me.
That following Easter, she got me the special 8-pack of Star Wars figures that came with the special display stand. That got me started on a massive collection of the original Kenner Star Wars figures that lasted well into my early teens, with Mom often going out of her way to visit stores with me to make sure that we got all of the new figures when they came out. I was also fortunate that she convinced my dad to get me some of the cool accessories, like the land speeder, X-Wing, and Darth Vader's Tie Fighter. I was one of the only kids I knew who had the old Kenner Death Star, much to my friend's chagrin.

My first 6 "Star Wars" comics from Marvel.
Gift from Mom, 1977.
My love of all things Star Wars prompted Mom to get me started on another hobby - comics. She came home from the store one day with a pack of the first six issues of Marvel's "Star Wars" comics, which adapted the first movie. I was instantly hooked and continued reading Marvel's Star Wars tales for another year and a half before I moved onto other things, but those comic images and ads for teams like the Invaders, Defenders, and Avengers stayed with me for a long time, eventually turning me into a reader and collector of comics, something which I still do to this day. I'll never forget Mom driving me around in the snow in the middle of Winter to try to find a store that had a copy of the limited series Punisher #3. I'd somehow collected all of the other issues (#1, #2, #4, and #5) but couldn't find that one, and we spent the entire afternoon and early evening after school one day visiting every convenience store, book store, and every other kind of place looking for that thing.


Mom also made it easy for me to pursue other creative interests, including playing piano, art, and reading. She was very good at watching my sister and me and learning what we were into. When she saw me paying attention to my older sister's piano lessons and then sitting down at the piano to play everything I'd heard after the teacher left the house, she decided that I should also have lessons and continued to pay for them all the way up through high school. When I developed an interest in drawing and art, she enrolled me in Summer art programs and gave me art pads, art books, colored pencils, markers, and pastel chalks as gifts for Christmas, Easter, and birthdays. She encouraged me to read, and I developed an appetite for a wide variety of subjects like astronomy, mythology, history, archaeology, and of course fiction of both the fantasy/science-fiction and "regular" type.

Mom's choice of toys always encouraged creative play, such as the home-made Star Wars costumes she made for my sister and me, or even the sets of Legos she bought, along with those really cool old "Lego Idea Books" that had tons of cool, and challenging, ideas in them for using your bricks in a different way than the directions in the box.


These are the first Playmobil figures. Mom gave me the Knight guy.  
Copyright 2011. This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons. 


Once, having noticed my interest in reading about King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table, she ordered a special new toy that had just come out of a knight with a spear and shiny helmet and armor. It was from a new company called "Playmobil" and Mom thought I might like it.

Perhaps Mom's greatest encouragement of my imaginative side was our trips to the library growing up, which was almost a weekly thing with my sister and me. We'd get tons of books, starting out with kids stories, of course, but as we got older I was getting things like histories of Marvel Comics, fantasy novels, and, when they had them, D&D books.

I've talked about how I first got into D&D a few times on the blog, but one of the things I never mentioned was how Mom got to know and understand just how much I loved the game, and secretly did research on what types of things I might like (such as looking at the ads in my Dragon magazines when I wasn't home - a magazine subscription that she asked my Grandma to get for me, by the way), or even calling or visiting stores to ask them what new things had come out, so she'd know that I wouldn't have them yet. Like searching for new Star Wars figures or elusive back-issues of comics that I couldn't find, mom would, again, go out of her way to drive me around town to visit the meager game-store pickings in suburban Salt Lake City so I could try to find a new game or accessory for my role-playing habit.

As I got older, Mom continued to help me embrace my geekier side, never once expressing anything but love and even pride that I was as creative and imaginative as I was. When the new Star Wars movies came out in the late 90s and early 2000s, Mom was back at the stores, picking up as many new and different figures as she could find and giving them to me when I came over to visit. 

She might not have always understood some of the things I was into, or necessarily liked them herself, but Mom could always be counted on to be quick on her feet with a joke or comment when the opportunity presented itself.

Once while home visiting her and my dad, I was watching the premiere of the new "Superman: The Animated Series" program. Mom stood a few feet away in the kitchen doing the dishes while I, now a 25 year-old young man, sat glued to the TV.

Image from dcanimated.wikia.com
An image of a young Clark Kent, in white t-shirt and jeans, appeared on the screen as he expressed some amazement upon discovering that he could fly.

"Who's that?" Mom asked, as she hadn't really been paying attention.

"That's Superman. Well, it's Clark Kent before he becomes Superman. He's in college, and he just discovered his powers."

Mom skipped a beat, then asked, "How come you didn't discover any powers in college?"

Often around this time, Mom would surprise me when I came to visit with something completely unexpected, such as a pack of Magic: The Gathering cards that she "just happened to see" while she was out shopping, and knew that I was collecting them.

My Flash Converse Hi-Tops. Gift from my Mom.
September 2012.
Most recently, for my last birthday back in September of last year, Mom gave me the coolest pair of shoes I could want - some Flash Converse high-tops. She knew that although I had tons of Batman and Superman stuff, that the Flash was really my favorite character. I wear them pretty much every day.

* * *

My mom very unexpectedly passed away back on February 6th. It was a complete shock to the entire family, and truth be told, we still haven't recovered. I don't suspect we will for quite a long time.

This little tribute can't even possibly convey one-tenth of the myriad things Mom did to help make me the person that I am today, but as I look back, I am constantly reminded that had it not been for her encouragement, love, and understanding of my somewhat offbeat hobbies... well, I wouldn't have this blog, for one thing. I wouldn't have the friends that I do today, almost everyone of which I have bonded with over discussions of Star Wars, comics, and fantasy fiction. And I wouldn't have the desire to continue creating worlds to share with my family and friends.

Thanks for everything, Mom. I miss you.

My Mom and me for her 70th Birthday. December 2012.

14 comments:

  1. She seems like a wonderful woman and mother and it's clear that she lives on in you and the things you love.

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    1. Thank you so much for your thoughts, Kelvin. I really appreciate it.

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  2. A great post. Sorry for your loss, Martin.

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    1. Thank you for your condolences, Trey. It's been a difficult time but I do appreciate your thoughts very much.

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  3. Martin, thanks for sharing this incredible tribute to your Mom. I am very sorry to hear about your loss, and I hope you and your family are doing well.

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    1. Thank you very much. I really appreciate you taking time to read the post and also to comment. Cheers.

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  4. This was a wonderful post. Sorry for your loss.

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    1. Thank you - I'm glad you enjoyed the post and appreciate your thoughts.

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  5. Great tribute. It seems that much of her lives on in you. I'm very much sorry for you loss. Saying goodbye is one of the most painful things in life in my opinion.

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    1. Thanks very much - yes, saying good-bye is NOT fun at all. But, like you said, I'm trying hard to keep her memory alive, especially with my little three year-old daughter. Thanks again.

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  6. Since you were a Deputy MC, and Loren thought you were awesome, you were always big in my book. Until I read this blog. Now I know you are a God, or at least an epic-level hero. And, if your Mom made you, she must have been made of even greater stuff. Thanks for the insight into your life and the joy your Mother brought you, and helped you bring yourself.

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    1. Hey Billy! Thanks for stopping by, and for your comments. Glad you read, and liked, the post. It was a difficult one to write which is why it took so long.

      Thanks also for the nice words in general about me and the blog. Deputy Master Councilors rule! :) I hope that you stick around and go through some of the past posts for things of interest. Cheers.

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  7. Very nice touching tribute to a great lady.

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    1. Hey Erik, this was from forever ago, but today for some reason I had a desire to go back and read this post, and I saw that you commented here. I'm sorry I missed this, but I thank you none-the-less for taking the time to comment.

      Cheers.

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