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.|
|My first 6 "Star Wars" comics from Marvel. |
Gift from Mom, 1977.
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.
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|
"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. |
* * *
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.|