Mom was there to hold me when I was scalded with hot water, to rush me to the doctor when I broke my arm to get me to the hospital when I had appendicitis. All the kids in the neighborhood loved Mrs. Maida. Since we lived next to the city swimming pool, there were always kids on our front porch. We would play football in the field across from our house and Mom would be ready with drinks and she always had a kind word.
I just heard a story few months ago. It’s amazing the things that go on right around you that you never know about. It seems while I was out running around with the boys, a younger sister of one of my friends would come up and visit with Mom. They lived right down the alley on Lloyds Lane and she would run up to our house and hide from her mother when her mother wanted to put a perm in her hair. This I found out well over fifty years after the fact. That was my mom, the kids just loved her.
My Dad couldn’t fight the cancer and he passed away in 1968. Tony was in Viet Nam and I had just graduated from high school. I helped with money from my factory job until she started getting her veteran’s and social security benefits. Again, I regret that I didn’t do more to help her, but I was in a big hurry to get out on my own. I went off and got married before I was nineteen years old. No one had money for a big ceremony. We were married in church and my mother made all of the food and had the little reception right in our tiny house by the pool. She worked very hard, with very little, to make it the best reception she could. I still think it was better than anything that could have been held in the grandest ballroom.
Time passed and the kids were adults with our own kids. Mom also moved on with her life. After years of wearing black dresses she was ready to take some time for herself. She joined the Big Band Society in Wilkes-Barre and went to the dances regularly. She still had her charm and she met two fine gentlemen in her years with the society. She met Joe and they had a few years together until he passed away and then she met Lenny and she had a few more happy years before he was taken.
In her final years I was privileged to have taken care of her. She came to live with us in Upper Marlboro. I say I when it really was the love of my life, Cathy, and her sister Joyce, that did all of the work. I did what I could to help but it was Cathy that would tell me what to do and when to do it.
When Mom’s mind faded with the ravages of Alzheimer’s, she needed more help than we could offer. We moved her to an assisted living house in Bowie, Maryland. Some say that one of the many things Alzheimer’s does is it eliminates your ability to maintain pretense. They say your real personality comes out whether you like it or not. I was told many times by the ladies that worked in the home, who by the way were angels in her final years, that Mom always had a kind word for everyone and, except for some bouts of anxiety, she was a very pleasant person.
We would visit her and she always got a hug and a kiss from us when we came in and when we left. In the end she didn’t quite know who we were, but she did know that we loved her.
Ottavia Ann Maida, ninety plus years on this Earth and we are all the better for it.