On October 17, it will have been three years since my mom passed away. I miss her dearly and I often think of something she told me since I was a tiny girl: “when you lose your mom, you lose your best friend.” I probably understood the BFF concept intellectually, and I certainly teared up when she was alive at the thought of her not being here on earth. However, Katie Planche Friedrichs, was certainly a force to be reckoned with and her strength challenged me from as far back as I can remember. I just didn’t realize a best friend could sometimes be, well, difficult.
A classic “Katie Story” was my 8th birthday party. My mom was a college professor in the performing arts (dance to be exact) and she decided that my late October birthday should be a Halloween extravaganza with a haunted house, ghosts, and the Pièce de résistance, a scary witch — her in theatrical make-up and costume of course. She involved the entire family–my two brothers were ghosts and ghouls, my sister and I had to peel grapes so that when kids stuck their hands into a bowl of the peeled orbs it felt like eyeballs, and my dad had to hang faux spider webs all over the den and kitchen. She even enlisted some of her lighting students to use black lights all over the house (naturally this was the 60’s so black lights were ubiquitous!). Well, the children arrived and went around to the different scary stations; i.e. noodles in olive oil posed as worms, ghosts jumped out from behind the white-Naugahyde barker lounger, and creepy noises came out of the Hi-fi…oh and the eyeballs rested in a lime-green Tupperware bowl. Everyone finished their tour of the haunted house and circled around to our mid-century living room turned audiotorium. Mama came down the dark hallway in her witch regalia with a Boy scout flashlight illuminating her wickedly made-up face. I smiled because I couldn’t believe how authentic she looked! I was so proud that the witch was my mama. I turned around with a huge grin to observe everyone else’s reaction and all of the children were hysterically crying. Two of the girls jumped up and ran out of the front door and then the entire party ran out behind them. And that was my 8th birthday party.
As I near my 50th birthday I crack up at this wonderful Katie story and the bright legacy she left me. Mama bequest material items to me in her Will but my real inheritance was her tenacious and creative spirit that courses through my every cell. Mama was the kind of woman that made the devil say “OH Shit!” when her feet hit the floor in the morning. Miss Katie, as she was known to many, was a can-do person who got things done. Strength of spirit, rich memories and lots of saved things are Miss Katie’s legacy to her children.
After Mama died my siblings and I took almost two years to divvy up her household belongings and miscellaneous saved items. Honestly it was an incredibly arduous and exhausting task that sadly left my family of origin at an acrimonious end. I’m still healing from the scars left from familial greediness, and I remain shocked that individuals raised along side of me could be scarier than Miss Katie’s Halloween witch.
Karl and I went to an estate sale last weekend of a prominent Meridian, MS gentleman, Mr. I. A. “Al” Rosenbaum. I remarked to Karl how amazing it was to watch the children and grandchildren of Mr. Rosenbaum’s sitting calmly and happily in a corner while a Harrod’s apron clad appraiser orchestrated the sale with great finesse and calm.
Mr. Rosenbaum was a wealthy Jewish businessman in Meridian and I read a quote that he was taught through his faith that he needed to help his community. He gave back to Meridian by bringing the first television station to town in the early 50’s, as well as, an incredible list of other noteworthy accomplishments that helped his small city become the thriving community it is today. He said in a framed newspaper article that the most important things in his life were his education from Vanderbilt, his wife of 54 years and his navy pilot wings. The rest he said was just a good time. He left priceless material possessions as part of his legacy, but all of that was for sale. Most importantly, he left a group of seemingly happy individuals watching the Steuban glass and sterling silver go off to new homes.
I didn’t know Al and I can only guess by his household effects that he loved more than just his Navy. From the enormous collection of Hi-ball glasses and cabinets of matching glassware I know Ike liked a good stiff drink and entertaining. From his office’s countless books lining the walls I know he loved to read and adored Harry S. Truman. He was a praying man as well and I am the happy new owner of a Jewish prayer book. I opened the latter and read: