Tag Archives: mom

Remembering Mom

Below is the eulogy I wrote for my mom, who passed away on May 25, 2022. I did not expect to lose her and had not considered what I might say to honor her until her death necessitated it. I wrote this quickly and if I could do it over again, I would edit liberally. My sister also delivered a eulogy, and between the two of us, I expect Mom would have been pleased, and probably would have suggested some judicious edits.


When my parents got married, Dad was in medical school and that left Mom pretty much on her own. Susan and I have two of the world’s most fabulous husbands so it’s hard to imagine what it must have been like raising three little girls virtually single-handed, and away from her New York family, first in California and then in Massachusetts. But she managed, the way she always did, and we glommed onto her like little barnacles.

She adored her own mother, our Grandma Hannah, and worried constantly about whether or not Grandma would approve of how she was managing her girls, and what she was doing. Her faith in her own mom was so unshakable that the message was clear: your mom is the most important person in your life, and I happily bought into that.

And she was a wonderful mom. But she was a horrible reacher-outer. When I was in my 20s, we could go through long stretches without speaking. I was busy living my young adult life, and if I wasn’t calling her, she assumed I was fine. Really, she didn’t want to “bother me.” Despite her big, close, extended family of origin, she never felt secure in her place in it as an adult. After her mom died, I encouraged her to reach out to her aunts more. She said, “Oh, I was just Hannah’s daughter, they don’t want to hear from me.” I knew my great-aunts and I’m telling you, they loved her. They would have loved to have heard from her more, but she never believed that in her heart.

It’s vitally important to me that any of you who ever thought, why the heck hasn’t Barbara called, know that it wasn’t because she didn’t love you, need you, want your friendship (I’m looking at you Aunt Marge) she just didn’t want to “bother” anyone.

She did, however, want to help everyone. Mom worked for years as a volunteer for the Attorney General’s office, fielding consumer complaints. Her job was to resolve issues so they didn’t rise to the level of needing legal intervention. She was a rabid consumer advocate and she could follow a trail to the truth like a bloodhound. She did the same thing for WBZ’s consumer hotline, Call for Action. There’s a world of people out there who owe Mom a debt of gratitude for making their consumer problems go away.

There are so many things I want to share about Mom. She was a serial hobbyist. Everything she did she did well, because she studied and studied and studied until she understood how things worked. She had a silver-making phase when I was a teenager, and made several of the bracelets I have been wearing for over 45 years.

She was an avid reader and I used to go through the book shelf where she kept books that were on their way back to the library to find things to read. She was my own personal librarian. At one point, I was struggling through Dr. Zhivago and told her that I wasn’t enjoying it and felt like it must be because I wasn’t smart enough to appreciate it. She said it wasn’t my fault, it just wasn’t a very good book. “But hey,” she said, “you know what you’d like? War and Peace. Now that’s a good book.” And of course, she was right.

In her later years, when she wasn’t pursuing her hobbies, she was working with Lexington at Home, the social group that sustained her for the last chapter of her life. She was on the steering committee, in the thick of managing and trouble-shooting and taking care of business. She could be stubborn, but the fact that she was usually right made that a more palatable trait.

For a time, Mom was also in charge of their web site, a comfortable place for a nerd of long standing. She had been fascinated with computers since I gave her a Commodore 64 computer in the early 80s. Immediately hooked, she began teaching herself how to program. She became so involved with the Boston Computer Society that she was soon running the Commodore User’s Group. She also wrote articles for the Commodore magazine, Run. And then she made a business out of the Commodore. That early machine had no persistent memory. As soon as you turned it off it forgot what you’d been doing, so she teamed up with her hardware engineer friend, Brown Pulliam, and wrote software that would retain memory in the external box he designed. With their fledgling business, Brown Boxes, they traveled to local computer shows, selling their wares. The popularity of the IBM PC made the Commodore obsolete and she moved on to become a PC expert, building machines for her children and grandchildren and happily supplying IT services when required.

When I was a younger, self-satisfied, cocky thing, I said to Mom, “I like the way I turned out and if I ever have a kid, I want them to be just like me, so I’ll have to be sure to do everything the way you did.” In hindsight, I know that was naïve, but I still thank my lucky stars that she was my mom.


Superman? Not without a super woman.


In February, 1955, the Superman comic book cost ten cents. That month, the back page carried an ad for Fashion Frocks. The headline read; If you get a Stunning $10.98 Dress Without Paying 1¢…will you WEAR and SHOW it in your community? It was like Tupperware marketing—without the parties. That ad clearly indicated that Fashion Frocks, Inc. believed that girls were reading the Superman comic book, and yet, National Comics (later known as DC Comics), opted to keep their female employees hidden from their readership.

fashionflair ad

In that same issue, right smack in the middle, there is a two-page article called, The Saga of the Soda: America’s Fountain Favorite Has Had a Remarkable Career, written by Ben Boltson. Only it wasn’t. It was written by Barbara Boltson, my mother. She was in her early twenties and not yet married. Despite the saccharine title, the article was not pure fluff. I don’t mean to imbue it with undeserved gravitas, but she had to have done some research in order to be able to explain the science behind carbonated water, as well as how to capture and deliver it for use at soda fountains. Fluff or not, it makes me sad to think that she had to forego her just deserts because National Comics wouldn’t allow women to publish under their own names.

After my parents married (which presumably would have caused my mother to be called Ben Mintz had she continued to work for National Comics), they moved to California and for a short time she worked for Western Family magazine where part of her job was delivering models to photo shoots. (She’ll blush to read this, but I remember a story about her car breaking down and the tow truck guy who came to help telling her that he had once towed Elizabeth Taylor and that Mom was prettier.) I have no doubt that if my mother had been born a few years later she would have had a marvelous career managing a magazine, or working as a writer or editor, but once she had her children, that no longer seemed to be an option.

And then, in the early 80s, I gave my mother a Commodore 64 computer. It was love at first sight, and before long she was running the Commodore Users Group of the Boston Computer Society and writing articles for RUN Magazine. She may not have worked outside the house, but she was a hell of a role model.


I have great admiration for my dad, and he’s always been one of my heroes, but if I needed someone to leap a tall building, Mom was the one I’d ask. She is modest to a fault and may well be embarrassed by all this attention, but from the first time I saw that Superman comic book with my mother’s pseudonymous byline, I knew I wanted to grow up to be like her. Things change; magazines no longer cost a dime, and women publish under their own names, but I continue to get inspiration from my mother.

Cooking is for the birds

Did you read my last post about cooking my first turkey? The sub-text, which I skipped over when I realized how much I had to say about the turkey experience itself, is that I don’t like to cook. I blame my mother.

I love my mom. I think she did a great job, considering what she had to work with. When friends talk about how lacking their own mothers are, I offer to lend them mine so they can get whatever it is they didn’t get from theirs. I feel very lucky in the mom department. But when it came to cooking, she fell down on the job. Mind you, we weren’t starving. She knew how to cook and she did feed us, but from my perspective she wasn’t enjoying it. (She may, of course, have a different take on the subject and she’s welcome to comment if she feels the need.) Having observed that cooking was a thankless task, I had no compelling desire to learn how to do it. Then I met Andrew.

On our third date, he made dinner for me at his apartment. I remember sitting in his kitchen in Somerville, drinking the wine I’d brought and eating the goat cheese he’d put out for me to munch on while he bustled about. The meal started with tomato soup, and he served roasted tomatoes with the entrée. I don’t like tomatoes, but I was impressed with his culinary skills. I congratulated myself on having found a man who was not only handsome, smart, and funny, but could cook. When he found out that I was a take-out kind of gal, he was disappointed. I decided to step up my cooking.

Then I met my future mother-in-law and I began to feel like I was living inside a bad joke with the punch line, “not as good as his mother makes it.” My MIL is an outstanding cook. I was intrigued, and a little annoyed. Particularly because, after committing to the long-term relationship, I discovered that Andrew didn’t actually do much cooking. He had cleverly dangled the possibility that he would cook as bait and I had swallowed the hook.

During our double-income-no-kid years, cooking never posed much of a problem. Between Andrew’s penchant for pizza and my love of Chinese food we could go for weeks without turning on the oven. Then we had Hannah and we had to confront the subject all over again. Although Andrew argued that pizza provided a balanced meal, Hannah never developed a taste for it, and before she had teeth who could blame her?

I managed to perfect half a dozen suitable dinners and before long my loving daughter learned to say, “That again?” When I picked her up after school, she would ask what we were having for dinner and then express her dismay. I started sticking my fingers in my ears when I saw her coming. While my repertoire has increased, and Hannah’s taste buds (and manners) have developed, dinner remains somewhat problematical at our house and frankly, I don’t expect it will ever get any better. I just don’t enjoy cooking.

If after reading this you’re feeling bad for my mom, don’t. One day Hannah will write about what an abysmal model she had for cooking and my mom will have the last laugh.