Life at Mill Bank Farms


The old part of the Saint Joseph Abbey cemetery.

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:

Psalm 49 
16 Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, 
when the glory of his house is increased; 
17 For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: 
his glory shall not descend after him.
When we die we leave all of our stuff behind or as the country lady said, “Ya ain’t never seen a U-haul behind a hearse.”  My husband and I have decided that we will downsize our belongings and live more simply. We incorporated our farm and began our venture so that we can sell our antiques and learn to live with less.
Maybe my mom’s passing has made me realize more clearly my mortality. Or maybe, turning 50 has made the short time I have on earth more realistic.  Either way I know that this October 27th, I will not be celebrating my new year with a Halloween themed party. I’ve had enough of witches and ghosts.

14 thoughts on “Legacy”

  1. I can see it now. Your mother is choreographing the angels. They are into jazz and tap now. Benny Goodman is playing. Nat King Cole and Ella are singing. They are having a ball. And most importantly she is watching you and she is incredibly proud of the woman you have become. You are carrying on the ”pepper pot ” tradition.

  2. Kit, thanks for the link and the honor of reading your tribute to your mother. A wonderful story wonderfully told.
    Your friend,
    Lyn Hill Hayward Taylor

    1. Ya know Jack Mackeral–that compliment coming from you, a Saint in our time, is priceless. Thank you my sweet dear friend. You’ve “always” been very encouraging to me along my bumpy road.
      St. Kippy

  3. “Die guten Dinge im Leben sind nicht Dinge.” Miss Katie would agree and I know you do too. I will carry my memories of your Mom and you forever.

  4. Kit – I may have even been the one who ran out first! I cannot remember that exact time but I have so many fond memories of the farm and your MOM. Always cherish your memories and know that she will always live on in YOU. I cannot believe that it has been 3 years! My mom has been gone for a year and a half and I miss her more and more every day. We all have “stuff” but the most important stuff is in our hearts and in our memories!! I love your posts!!

    1. Thank you my sweet friend for reading my blog. It is very hard but I hope and pray that the mourning for you has been slow and steady. Really that’s the best way. The missing part I’m sorry to say just keeps on. I miss your mom too and I think of her often…especially when I take my boy to Christ Episcopal and when I see your dad’s Bulldogs on TV. 😉

  5. I loved your post Kit. I can only imagine how much you must miss your mom. I only knew her for a short time but I admired her generosity of spirit and love of life. She loved her children fiercely and with her whole heart. I am sure that is something that you don’t “get over” missing about a mom like yours.

    1. Thanks Lisa. I do miss her but I know she’s at peace and cooking something delicious in heaven! I just wish she wouldn’t have left me with such a mess. Note to all with children: clean out your attic, closets and dressers before you die. Hope you’re well. Nice to hear from you. 😉

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