Sunday, May 12, 2013

Lovely, Lovely Linda

Is it just me, or does Mother's Day seem to be a huge deal this year? I've seen so many posts about it on Facebook, so many TV shows with Mother's Day themes. I think it's awesome. Who is more deserving of praise than parents? They do so much that goes unnoticed for most of the year. I always love the opportunity to tell people just what they mean to me in a way that maybe they haven't heard before. So, without further ado, I present some thoughts about the lovely, lovely Linda - my Mom.  

Flower Child Mama
Mom was born in Sierra Vista, AZ – a town that was frankly too small to contain her. She was a tomboy as a kid (just like me!) and often spent entire days playing outside, shirt off, skin burning, keeping up with the boys. She is also the middle child in her family, and while I don’t really buy into that birth order stuff, I do believe that we connect on a special level as the result of this. My grandparents eventually moved the family to the “big city” of Tucson. There, she studied acting at the U of A for a bit and dabbled in modeling. Mom has always been a gorgeous creature. At that age, she had long, black hair, big, beautiful dark eyes, and olive skin. I look back at pictures of her from then and marvel. She looks so mysterious and elegant and she totally had Zooey Deschanel bangs way before that was a thing. She was a bit of a hippie and always dreamed of moving to California. In fact, she did for awhile. She got a job parking big rigs (!!!), which explains why she is still the undisputed Car Parking Champ of the World. But, eventually, Tucson beckoned again and she moved home. Instead of giving up on her acting dreams, she lived them out in the best way she could. A lot of westerns and TV shows were produced in Tucson at the time, so she got in the game. She found an agent named George Kennedy, and he got her lots of work as an extra.

Around the same time, she met my Dad. I won’t go into the details of that first meeting, because my Dad does so below - beautifully, I might add.  They married and had three children (three natural, drug-free births, she’ll have you know) and they are still quite happily married today. Even after us kids were born and she had to take on boring jobs to pay the bills, Mom never gave up her dreams. She ended up working on movies like Posse and Poker Alice with some of the greats, including Elizabeth Taylor, Tom Skerritt, Bruce Dern, and George Hamilton. Not everyone can go through family photos and find pictures of their mom in a saloon-girl costume, standing next to a movie star. She even got us kids involved in some productions like Major League, which was filmed at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson. (Little known fact: I played a convict’s daughter in a very special Thanksgiving episode of Michael Landon’s Highway to Heaven. How you like me now?)

Man, the 80s were awesome!
Mom has always been an incredibly hard worker. She and Dad made the decision to put their kids through private schools, and that did not come cheap. But she felt it was important and she worked her butt off to do that for us.  To this day, I am so grateful for the education they gave us, and I like to think that I got my own work ethic from watching her. She is also just an incredibly kind-hearted, unjaded individual. She always looks for the best in people, never wanting to believe that anyone is beyond repair. I find that to be incredibly rare in this day and age. Being raised by someone so compassionate definitely colored how I view the world. I love that we are a "glass-half-full" family. 

Speaking of family, Mom is serious about it. She grew up when the Lebanese community in Tucson was going strong. Her aunties were her role models, her cousins were more like siblings. To her, nothing was better than being surrounded by family, and that remains true. I believe that community shaped her into the fiercely loyal and loving mother she is. She makes sure all of us kids know, without a doubt, that we are unconditionally supported. The older I get, the more I realize that very few people have the privilege of having someone like that in their lives (and it is a privilege, there are no guarantees). I am not only lucky, but eternally grateful for that. I know that no matter what is going on in my life, I can call Mom and lay myself bare. I can tell her anything and she will never judge me, only comfort me, and maybe remind me to take care of myself as her eyebrows knit together in that telling way. She still worries about me as though I were a kid, calling or texting me whenever she hears about stormy weather in New York to make sure I'm okay. 

Mom and me
Living so far away from home is incredibly difficult, especially on Mother’s Day. I miss the little things, like just going out to lunch together, or catching a movie. Mom has a way of making even mundane tasks really fun. She has a zest for life that is infectious. I wish more than anything that I could be with Mom today, showing her the gratitude that I feel so deeply, expressing the appreciation she so deserves. I figured the next best thing would be to write about this woman, to share her with the world. I also asked my family to write about their favorite Mom memories. Here is what they had to say.

From my sister, Bree:

When Hally asked me to write about my favorite memories of my mom, I knew it would be difficult to find just one or two.  I'm so lucky to have countless memories of our time together.  There were the small moments growing up, like dressing up in her feather boa and sneaking a spray of her favorite perfume, Leteuce. Or taking trips in our van "Big Blue" to San Diego for Easter and finding the blowup Easter bunny that she and dad had planted in the door of our hotel room, beckoning us out of bed to find our Easter baskets which they had carefully hidden.  There was the way she coached my friends and I in our first talent show performance, a lip-synced aerobic choreographed dance to the song "Physical" by Olivia Newton John.  She even sewed my headband for that one. She's taught me so many important skills in my life, like learning how to shop.  She used to take me to the mall in my stroller, and I would hold up pieces of clothing that I thought were nice and say, "Oh, how coot!" And on more than one occasion, she would have to run around like crazy trying to find me as I hid in the center of a clothes-rack in the department store.  She always made every birthday, every Christmas, every holiday so magical, and my brother, sister and I felt like the most important things in the world.  She was always there to nurse my wounds (physical and emotional), to cheer me up, and to be a shoulder to lean on.  This wasn't just the case when I was little.  This is still the case today. 

Mom and Bree
If I have to pick just one great memory, I would have to pick our trip to Vegas.  It was a few months before I got married, and I was already going insane with the planning that is involved in such an event, so I was eager to escape town with my girls – my mom and my Aunt Debbie. Vegas is a rite of passage for the women in my family.  It used to be that when a girl turned a certain age, they accompanied all of her cousins and aunties to the magical city.  They would stay up for days on end, drink way too much, and generally not give a damn about anyone but themselves for a change.  I had gone to Vegas before, once with my mom and my sister, and once with all of the Lebanese women. Both of those trips were was also amazing, but this trip was a little more recent, so it's easier for me to recall the details.  When Mom gets into a casino, she is seriously like a kid in a candy store.  Her eyes light up and, a big smile comes across her face. You can sense the elation inside of her.  On this particular trip, we decided to cheap out and take Southwest Airlines to get there.  Of course, the three of us ended up in the back row right by the bathroom, smashed together so tightly that they didn't even make us wear our seat belts.  When we arrived and finally managed to pry ourselves out of our seats, we checked into the Palazzo, which is the sister hotel of the Venetian (where my mom, sister and stayed I on our first visit).  We could hardly shower and change fast enough to get to that casino floor.  And I remember feeling like I could have stayed there with my mom forever.  I felt like a version of heaven to me. 

Aunt Debbie, Bree and Mom
Although I can't quite remember the exact day-by-day agenda, there were many highlights.  We had gone there over the 4th of July, so we got to see the fireworks outside of the MGM grand.  We were exhausted at the time, but it was completely worth it.  It was such a spectacle!  I also remember indulging in a martini with my mom in the middle of the day in the middle of the casino and having a heart to heart about life and love.  One day, we wait to see a show called "Absinthe", which was a theater-in-the-round, circus-style affair.  We were standing in line to get in, and lo and behold, the sky opened up and it poured down on us.  We got absolutely drenched!  We were finally let inside, and we were just sitting there, soaking wet with big smiles on our faces, knowing that we would look back on this day with fond regard.  We had some of the best meals of our life there.  I remember brunch at the Bellagio and dinner at this fabulous seafood restaurant in the Venetian.  And our first night, we went to Binion's Steakhouse, which, I’m pretty sure, is run by the mob. All of these older Italian men in tuxedos made up the wait staff, and it was so dark you couldn't see to walk. My mom threw abandon to the wind and ordered one of the most expensive things on the menu stating, "I'm worth it," which she definitely is. The lead singer of Men at Work was giving a show down below on the street (random!) and we got to watch from our seats high atop the casino. We had such a great time that we ended up extending our trip an extra day.  I'm not really sure what the tally of prize money was at the end, but I can say that I'm sure my mom came out ahead, as she is one of luckiest people I know.  We eventually returned home, sad to have to leave a piece of heaven, but ecstatic at the time we got to share together.

Mom is retiring this year.  Actually, she has less than a month to go on her "sentence".  She has always worked so hard to support us.  I can't wait to make more memories with her and share more times at the casino and beyond.  Thanks for all you do, for all you are, for all you have taught me, and for spotting me money at the slots.  I love you more than you'll ever know.  Happy Mother's Day!

Mommy in a hot tub
From Dad:

It was a July night when I met Linda at the wedding of the sister of a friend of mine from art school who is Lebanese. I was sitting in the church in the early evening with another friend from art school relaxing and looking around, like I always do, when I saw Linda and her sister walking down the aisle to their seat. Linda was wearing a dark pink silky pantsuit covered with little white stars. Her hair was really long and dark and she had a great summer tan. I was immediately smitten. I had agreed to tend bar at the reception in the church hall after the wedding. I was glad I did because this beautiful woman was a frequent customer. It turned out she had an eye for me too and was coming to the bar regularly for refills for all of her family and relatives. I was very impressed with the size of the crowd at the reception and how friendly they were to me. After my shift tending bar was over Linda asked me to join them and introduced me around. Then they started playing traditional Lebanese music and doing a dance called the Dabke. Linda asked me to join in, so I gave it a shot and really enjoyed it. We sat and talked for a long time. She told me she just got back from Newport Beach, thus the great tan. As it happened I asked her if I could escort her home after the reception with a quick stop at party at my best friend Sam's just to say hi. It was raining on and off that night making for a beautiful evening. I carried her across the puddles in the church lot to my car. By the time we got to Sam's it was raining hard and steady so we opted to sit in my car and get to know each other better. I found she and I had a lot of the same interests, enjoyed the same kinds of music and that she had been a model and was getting work in movie and television shows being shot in Tucson. So we got closer and closer and finally shared our first kiss. Then another, followed by another. The rain kept up steadily so we decided to just go back to her house. Her parents weren't living there at that time so I slept on her couch in the living room. I behaved myself because I could feel this might be something special at a time when I was ready for it and she was too. Two years later we where married and have been together since. I still get a beautiful feeling every time I remember our first night.

Mom and Dad
Now you can start counting off the days ‘til you can sleep in late, like every day is a weekend day. Take your time waking up and enjoying the life you so deserve. You’ve worked hard and sacrificed much in your life for our kids and me. I so look forward to the extra time we can do whatever strikes us that day…take classes, travel more, enjoy fixing up our home, etc.

I wish you much enjoyment and little hassle in the future. Happy Mother’s Day! 


Mom - I hope you know how much I miss you and how much you are loved. I hope this day is relaxing and special for you. I, too, hope your retirement days treat you well, and that you get to enjoy life on a whole new level once time belongs only to you. Happy Mother's Day, and thanks so much for ALL you do!



  1. I think Mom meant to leave this comment here, so I moved it. Haha!

    What a beautiful tribute to your mother. It has been my privilege and honor to be your mom. I feel like I was totally blessed with three of the most wonderful, smart & talented children. I count my self so so so lucky. Love - Mom

  2. We love you momma! You are such an amazing woman and a true inspiration.