The young mother I remember is the woman in this photograph, the day she took a gaggle of neighborhood kids to look for tadpoles — freckled, casually dressed, with a Lucky Strike in her hand. It was May of 1952, and she was five months pregnant with my brother Ben. No one had told me yet (third from the left), and I certainly had no idea my parents had been trying for years to have another child. Soon there would be four of us, a typical family for the time.
Herself an only child, my mother came from privilege but had a distinct weakness for the underdog. One of the most intelligent people I have ever known, she had a dry, extremely funny wit. She was easygoing and naturally kind.
[Clockwise from top left: Station Wagon Painting by Arrolynn; Vintage Lucky Strike Sign from VintageGeneralStore; Handmade eyeglasses by SpectatorFrames; Copper Frog by Appelsinium; Wooden Frog by SandraHealy; Vintage Mother's Day Card from AntiquesGaloreGal]
She hated pretentiousness and pooh-poohed Mothers’ Day, considering it an invention by greeting card manufacturers and florists to play on the sentiments of a gullible public. I ignored her protests and always sent her cards.
[Clockwise from top left: Ocean Waves Matchbox Treasure by Artinredwagons; No Loss for Words from Becaruns; Vintage Patchwork Blouse from Shopshmata; Penny for Your Thoughts Ring by NinaGibsonDesigns; Vintage Penny Loafers from Continual; Vintage Flash Cards from Gleancreativereuse]
She blamed her insecurity with math and spelling on her family’s move from West Virginia to Detroit: her old school hadn’t taught fractions, yet the new one had covered them the year before. I have her copy of 20,000 Words, which is full of marginalia — quotes she found meaningful, notes on the chronology of her adult life — all written in her neatly printed hand.
[Clockwise from top left: Green Stoneware Pottery Bowls by DorothyDomingo; Vintage Folk Art Toy from Haverton; Tsunami Relief Bookmark by Skoonberg; VW Etching by Atelier28; Woodcut Goat Rose Print by Raineysmith]
In the 1960′s, my mother’s refuge was a small farm in western Maryland. On impulse, she bought a kid goat at a country auction. Hasty Hobo would spend the week in our side yard near the National Cathedral and the weekend at the farm, traveling between the two in our V.W. bus. Eventually, he went to live at a Virginia horse farm.
[Clockwise from top left: Antique Spoon from CuriosityVintage; Vegan Organic Double Ginger Caramels by FeedYourFace; Vintage Red Lantern Illustrations from ProsperosBookshelf; Tealight Holder by RuthCharltonCeramics; The Family of Man Vintage Book from Mclovebuddy; Vintage Horse and Wagon Toy from Susantique]
She became interested in China at a time when the U.S. had been ignoring its existence for years. We also usually had a foreign scholar living at our house. She once gave a set of inherited coin silver spoons to an African revolutionary who had stayed with us; she was quite fond of him and the spoons were to be for his first-born child. Later, she supposed she had inadvertently helped fund his cause. I have often wondered what her F.B.I. file looks like.
The 1950s and ’60s were good years in my mother’s life, and I am happy I shared them. The rest of her life was not so easy, but she made the best of it. She continued to delve deeply in her intellectual pursuits, took up photography, fell in love with the UConn women’s basketball team and had the joy of a single grandson very late in life. This Mothers’ Day tribute is one last card for my favorite skeptic.
In loving memory of Patricia Collett Hewitt Fitt, 1921 – 2000.
Cate Fitt, a.k.a. knitfitt, has been a member of Etsy since 2007 and is an experienced critic, curator and juror. She earned her MFA in fiber in 1978, later receiving an artist’s fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Through the years, she’s been a maker of one-of-a-kind hand-painted clothing, pottery, jewelry, and linocut and monotype prints. She lives in a little house close to the James River with two whippets named Moose and Peach.