My Material Life

Pictures of Celia


It’s easy to idealize people who are no longer here.  I’m sure I do that with my mother.  Of course we all have our flaws.  I really do think she was too lenient with my brothers.  And though I enjoyed hearing Uncle Bob tell people that Celia could make new friends in the washroom on the day of her memorial service, I typically found her interest in making conversation with just about any stranger, anywhere, well – embarassing.  I have grown to admire that about her though. Now that our smart phones and such make it easier for people to withdraw into their own little world even when out amongst other humans, I appreciate more than ever Mom’s interest in making connections with people she didn’t know – yet!

Another thing I didn’t appreciate when I was young were all the people (i.e., my brothers’ friends) who would congregate at our house.  Our friends loved Celia and she welcomed them (mostly).  One night when I was in grade school and had a few neighborhood girls over for a slumber party, I woke in the wee hours to find Mom in the kitchen making butter in the blender with Heather Bender.  That sounds like one of those tongue exercises I know, but it’s the actual truth – butter in the blender and Heather Bender was the real name of my next-door-neighbor.  Heather couldn’t sleep and was probably homesick, so my mom got up to keep her company.  How they came to decide to make butter in the blender I don’t know!

Celia was a good egg, no doubt about it.  My siblings and I were lucky to have her.  She lived a graceful life through all her ups and downs.  The downs including 1) the stillbirth of her third daughter, Eileen, when she was 39, 2) two brain surgeries at the age of 48 to first remove a large pituitary tumor and then stop the subsequent bleeding (of course, the upside was that she lived through that second surgery at all) and 3) marriage to a troubled soul, a.k.a. my dad.  Her death at 64 from bleeding in the the brain surprised us all.  But I have to say, she seemed older than 64 by the time she died.  And I don’t think she regretted her marriage; she loved my dad.  She was very good at making peace with things and enjoying life the best she could.  I have so many good memories.  I was on an airplane a few years ago when first Heather Bender popped into my mind and then the blender butter memory.  It seemed I hadn’t thought of it since it happened so many years ago.  I can’t tell you how happy I was to remember it again.

I’ve already posted some other favorite photos of Celia here.


  1. Kathie

    I agree 100%! We were all so lucky to have her, and isn’t it amazing how we find ourselves thinking and acting just like her? Mom left an amazing legacy, in her own quiet way. One of my favorite things about her was her giggling – how she would start and just couldn’t stop! I need to remember to laugh more, and not sweat the small stuff! Happy Mother’s Day to my amazing sister!

    • We were, we were! Happy Mother’s Day to my amazing sister too! You know, I have a couple of pictures of her that I couldn’t seem to locate today, but one was of her giggling and another was one of her with the dogs when she was in her 50s. Where could I have put them? Oh well, you’re right – she would want you to laugh more and not sweat the small stuff – and most of it is small stuff, isn’t it? Love you – Colleen

  2. Anne Palmer Peterson

    Oh Colleen, tissue here for me…you are such a beautiful writer and share stories so well! Book please! xo

    • Oh Anne, you flatter me! I think it’s just my rapidly advancing years that compel me to write these little memories down before I forget them completely. Thank you though sweetie!

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