Today is the first truly bittersweet Mother’s Day in my life. I learned a week ago last Sunday that my step-mother, Brenda Rein, passed away from esophageal cancer (after battling with it for years). Yesterday, I would have sent her a Mother’s Day card. Today, my Dad, sister, and Brenda’s family/friends in Oakland, CA are having the burial. I’m not there to take part, but I sit here in my New York apartment and think of her.
She was a dynamo of a lady – intelligent, beautiful, classy, stylish, well-read and well-traveled. Before my dad, she was married to an ambassador to Turkey, she spoke middle-eastern languages and I always remembered how she would stick her well-manicured, blood-red nails out the window to practically force cars to let her into their lane on the freeway. She matched her outfit impeccably with scarves, earrings, rings and brooches and knew how to dress a dining room table with ever color under the sun. She decorated the house with paintings, masks, decorations, flowers, pottery, books and sculpture. She was an incredible cook and even when she couldn’t eat solid food in these past few months she would cook huge pots of jambalaya and deliver it to others. She threw wonderful parties and knew how to feed people and be a gracious hostess. She was incredibly supportive of my career and inspired my husband, Pete, to write his 6-part fiction novel series just by handing him a book on alternative Templar Knight history. Pete and I were inspired to be married outside Edinburgh because of that book. She raised two extremely intelligent and successful children, Vincent and Pamela (I remember visiting Vincent in London, where we drank from a bottle of wine that was MY age at that time, and driving through the fields of mustard flowers in his convertible).
On the other side of the coin, Brenda also battled additions to cigarettes and liquor, two vices which ultimately became her physical and emotional downfall. It became tough for the family to see this, and it’s a tragedy that she made the choices she did. She leaves behind a lot of wake in the water, both positive and negative, but to be sure she also leaves behind hundreds of friends, and a family who loved her despite some of the chaos.
Her obituary is here. Like it says, please send donations to the American Cancer Society. I don’t quite understand how so much money is wasted on wars — while cancer is practically the largest killer in the Western world, yet so underfunded in comparison. Pete wrote a great blog entry on this – his own side of the family is dealing with it as best they can.
Rest in Peace, Brenda. I love you.
“I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing” – William James