My mother is Dorothy Leland Follansbee, quite an unusual and striking woman. She was a dichotomy of high caliber poise and graciousness on the one side and controlling, driving demeanor on the other, an endearing goddess, a driving dynamo.
Growing up as her daughter was an amazing experience! As I was a natural “out of the box” free spirit, Mom’s rigid and firm high standards were a catalyst for me to act out, break out and just be me! That, of course, rattled her and was a threat to her “momship”, sense of order and her way of things. As we progressed through all the years, I believe it was the strong inner love that we had for each other that got us through the bumpy times and eventually bonded us together in a strong, abiding pattern.
I always admired her good “guts”, even though I rebelled against much of her hard line. I especially got a kick out of how many times, in the midst of our squabbles, she would come around with a glint in her eye and a sincere chuckle and say, “Oh Irene, if anyone can break the mold, it is you!” I loved the fact that every now and then, although not very often, the world would seem to stop, and Mom and I would share a rare, touching and deep moment. It was truly heartening for me to see the real understanding and warmth within her come out, and during those precious moments, she never failed to tell me, glowingly, that she admired and adored that soulful part of me that touched a note inside of her and brought her out!
The most amazing moment in our whole relationship was on the momentous and deeply sad day when my late son, Joey, age twenty-one, was in the emergency room on life support with little hope for life ahead. Facing the devastating realism that my boy would be leaving us, I turned to Mom, who was right beside me, reaching out for support. I knew so well that she had lost her son, my brother, Colonel, before I was born. He was only six years old. I said, “Oh, Mom, I hope to God that I can have the strength that you had with Colonel, to get through this!” She put her arms around me and replied, “Oh, darling, you will have twice the strength that I did!” Thus, in retrospect, despite all of our differences and individual hardships, I will always treasure my mom’s strong stamina, true beliefs and fine principles. She indeed, after all, was my guiding light.