Michigan Avenue Chicago: Through the decades

The first places that come to my mind when I think about Michigan Avenue in Chicago that decorate my childhood was The Art Institute and the Grant Park parking garage below street level.

Most of all, I remember driving from Michigan Ave to Lake Shore Drive and back again several times when a handmade sign was placed in front of the ramp to let travelers know that the garage was full. But they must have been pretty good about monitoring customers and that sign. It would always open for us to park if we circled patiently.

I would glance at the Prudential building as we would circle…For me the highest on the 41 floor where we visited the observation deck many times. But then in 1970, the John Hancock opened and at 100 stories high, it was the tallest building in the world.  Now, of course, Sears or should I say Willis in 1973 was built 110 stories surpassing the World Trade Center buildings in New York, destroyed on 9/11.

A trip to the Art Institute during my younger years would have me consumed by the most remarkable Thorne Miniature Rooms, sixty eight glass boxes in walls displaying European interiors from the late 13th century to the 1930s and American furnishings from the 17th century to the 1930s. Constructed on a scale of one inch to one foot,  rooms were designed by Mrs. James Ward Thorne of Chicago and constructed between 1932-1940. The Art Institute had the best museum shop that included a wonderful collection of art books, wall decor, special jewelry and charms. Now they have an expanded and you can order right now online.

During the 1960’s/1970’s, it was the historic Blackstone hotel on Michigan where I attended a young friends Bar Mitzvah in one of its banquet rooms. The Blackstone Hotel has been dubbed “The Hotel of Presidents”. It was once considered one of Chicago’s finest luxury hotels, and a dozen 20th-century U.S. presidents have stayed at the hotel. Today, the Blackstone is still a stunning hotel example with beautifully decorated rooms and marble bath facilities.

I still remember The Conrad Hilton on Michigan Ave in the early 1970’s where I attended an overnight convention now called Hilton Chicago. Hilton Chicago is still an elegant choice to stay in as it was for me as a young girl but today the Hilton has one of the largest fitness centers along with cellular phone rental and complimentary WiFi for Hilton Honors members.

Now known as the Magnificent mile,  north Michigan ave  boosted the construction of Water Tower Place in 1975 but in the 1960’s it was Saks Fifth Avenue that was probably the tallest most prominent shop.  900 North Michigan Shops is a visually stunning and highly desired shopping destination that resides on the north end of Chicago’s vibrant Magnificent Mile.

The exclusive tenant mix offers shoppers an unparalleled experience of more than 70 luxury lifestyle shops featuring Bloomingdale’s and a strong line-up of national brands perfectly complemented by an eclectic collection of unique boutiques and a diverse selection of delectable dining options.

Michigan Avenue extends south into near south side of Chicago and beyond – past what was once the notorious Levee District,  the historic Second Presbyterian Church, which was built in 1874 and still offers services today.

The former home of the legendary Chess Records at 2120 South Michigan. In 1993, Willie Dixon’s widow, Marie, purchased the building which was then renovated and re-opened in September 1997 with a dedication ceremony. It is now home to Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven Foundation.

The Lexington Hotel was a ten-story hotel in Chicago at 2135 S. Michigan Avenue that was built in 1892, once a home to Al Capone. The hotel was closed in 1980 and destroyed despite being a landmark.


Who’s your favorite clown?

Chicago children’s television for Baby Boomers were the most popular nationwide TV shows in the US. As a child, I was fortunate to be able to attend a couple of those shows live.  The first was Here’s Geraldine in 1959 which was hosted by Jim Stewart bringing puppets to life on stage with his giraffe co-star and fellow puppets Rosemarie Bud Stewart.   I remember thinking how small the performing area was where we sat on seats that actually were behind the giant cameras and lights. I was only 4 when I visited and my Mom said I was a little intimidated by all the equipment. I had a hard time concentrating on the puppets even though he was always one of my favorites.

Another Chicago children’s television show that I didn’t have to wait a lifetime for after my Mom ordered tickets was probably the most exciting because I was older, approximately 7 or 8. Some parents knew the routine. Some newlyweds quickly got their orders in for their unborn offspring! The wait time even back in the 1960’s could easily run 7-10 years.

For many, you know exactly which show I am talking…Bozos Circus is on the air! Beginning at noon on June 20th, 1960, Bozo( Bob Bell) began his journey with Ned Locke as Ringmaster Ned, a 13 piece orchestra and a 200 member studio audience. Though changing characters throughout the decades,  Bozo lasted over 40 years.

It seemed like forever that we stood in the narrow hallway at the WGN studio where we waited to enter the small set in 1963.  I remember heading in on the right while being directed to our seats and again, overwhelmed at the lack of size for all the skits. The orchestra was seated at the far left and I couldn’t take my eyes off the amazing cameras, lights and how much technology was being used that you never saw from your television screen.

During cartoons and commercials, we did not watch them on a screen but watched stage hands and the cast getting ready for the next live event.  When it came time for the magic arrows, again, we could not see ourselves in any television on the set. The invisible arrows flashed and stopped over someone in the studio audience selected to play the famous Grand Prize Game where a young boy or girl would toss a ping-pong ball into a series of six buckets. Just like the television audience, we had no idea where the arrows would stop.  And back in our day, whoever chosen to play made sure they stayed behind the line in front of bucket number 1 and did not bend at the waist when tossing the balls to successive buckets.

Besides Bozo and Ringmaster Ned, we were met by Oliver O. Oliver from the also popular Ray Rayner Show, Sandy, Band leader Bob Trendler and his Big Top Band. By 1963, the show had welcomed its 100,00th visitor and reached the 250,000 mark in 1966.

I don’t remember bringing in cameras or the luxurious 8 millimeter movie camera with attachable lights. In fact, I want to say that cameras were not allowed during the live production at that time nor did we receive a film or a copy of our visit. It was a live taping and, of course, with the exception of seeing a few captured vintage movie moments on You Tube today posted by visitors in later years, videos on our cameras just was not part of our childhood.  Even after making my public appearance, it was a national tradition for me and other Chicago children to run home from school at lunch time to catch Bozo.

The show’s final telecast aired on August 26 2001. Children’s television would now be just a nostalgic reminder of it’s past.  From the late 1940’s through the early 1970’s, local television stations created a golden age of Chicago children’s television unique in American broadcasting.

My memories also include Miss Francis and her Ding Dong School, Kukla Fran &; Ollie, Ray Rayner and His Friends and Garfield Goose and Friends. And if you were just a little more sophisticated and mature, it was Sunday afternoon in front of the TV, with your family watching Family Classics with Frazier Thomas.

For me, I will never forget……..WHO’S YOUR FAVORITE CLOWN?

Chicago’s Gold Coast

My early gold coast trips included the Old Water Tower built in 1869 finally transcending across the street to the new Water Tower Place built in 1975. Also, for me, days of dining took place in an elegant room for Sunday brunch and dinner at Kontiki Ports restaurant, provided by the Continental Hotel now Intercontinental.

But the Gold Coast is truly known for prominent luxury that began on the near north side of Chicago. Millionaire Potter Palmer built his mansion in 1882 while other wealthy residents followed to the Gold coast of Chicago situated along the shores of Lake Michigan.

The Gold Coast still offers an affluent haven for rare designer stores on the Magnificent Mile and the most popular restaurants in the country located on historic Rush street.  After shopping and eating,  the district highlights some of the most prestigious hotels that include the legendary Drake .

Old Water Tower

Located in the heart of the Gold Coast along the Magnificent Mile known for its shopping, the Chicago Water Tower is the second oldest in the United States built in 1869 and is worth a visit.  Skyscrapers,  such as the Hancock Building, dwarf the building that is just little over 150 Feet. It now holds a city gallery that present the resplendent work of artists and local photographers. An ensemble based theatre in Chicago that has won 42 Joseph Jefferson  is LookingGlass theatre whose home is this historic water pumping station  and offers internships to graduated college students in professional theatre.

Water Tower Place

Across the street from the Chicago Water Tower, is 758,000 square feet of shopping with 74 floors  at Water Tower Place, one of Chicago’s largest shopping malls with over 100 stores. All business are indoors at 825 North Michigan Avenue.  Water Tower features stores such as America Girl Place where you can shop for your favorite doll and treat you and your children to a special dining experience.  Other stores include Macy’s, Abercrombie and Fitch and full service restaurants like Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch; a great sports bar on the top floor of the plaza.

Broadway Play House

After spending a day of shopping and dining, on the North side of Water Tower Place is the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower, originally a Drury Lane Theater in the 1970’s. After a makeover in 2010, Broadway has hosted Love, Loss and What I wore as well as highly acclaimed Broadway hit Colin Quinn: Long Story Shorty.

Newberry Library

Situated in the vibrant Gold Coast neighborhood but off the beaten path of Michigan Ave and its restaurants and shops, Newberry library is free and open to the public. Researchers and scholars all over the world have visited the collections that include the brilliance of literature , rare books, maps, music and manuscripts that will detail six centuries of material. The Newberry was established in 1887 and also provides programs for teachers, adult education seminars and a variety of events on  the humanities.

Washington Square Park

Across the street from the Newberry, is the serenity of  Washington Square Park  founded in 1842. During the summer months the park is celebrated with a combination of trees, picket fencing, a Victorian fountain that was added in the 1890’s and a beautiful array of floral design; a great place to take a breath and relax during your busy trip to Gold Coast.  The park is heralded as an historic district in Chicago.

900 North Michigan Shops

For high end, luxury shopping featuring Gucci, Max Mara, J.Crew and a host of others, visit the 8th tallest skyscraper in the city on Gold Coast’s Magnificent Mile.  Exquisite boutiques include designers such as Kate Spade and Karen Millen. Celebrate happy hour at Frankie’s pizza.

Rush Street

Just a one way street traveling North, Rush is acclaimed for its wealth, nightlife, five star hotels and elite restaurants that include Tavern on Rush,  Hugo’s Frog Bar and Fish House, and Gibson’s Bar and Steakhouse where you will find autographed photographs  of the rich and famous. If in the mood for Asian, Jellyfish restaurant has been voted as one of the 17 hottest Sushi Restaurants in the United States.  There is no telling what to expect on Rush street.

Driehaus Museum

Known as the Gilded Age, Driehaus offers collections of awe inspiring examples of furnishing and interiors the wealthy in America crafted during that era. Beautifully preserved architecture and design grace the museum from such acclaimed designers as Louis Comfort Tiffany.  You will be able to visit rooms in the Gallery that present the elegance of the front parlor, dining room and even the smoking room of the early 19th century.

Signature Lounge at the 96th and Signature Room at the 95th

Not only does the 96th floor of the John Hancock offer wonderful views of the city, but the  Signature Lounge offers a choice of over 700 wines and specialty cocktails along with appetizers that include caprese bruschetta and great chicken wings.  If in the mood for dinner, The Signature Room at the 95th floor has been named the most romantic and has been voted one of America’s Top Table by Gourmet Magazine. Fresh entrees include Australian rack of lamb and vegetable lasagna.

The Drake  Hotel

One of more than 250 hotels in America, the Drake Hotel is recognized by Historic Hotels of America. The Hotel opened on New Year’s Eve with a massive gala of over 2,000 Chicago Citizens in 1919.  The Drake provides the grandeur of the early 19th century  with over 500 luxury guest rooms and 74 magnificent suites . Enjoy afternoon tea in the elaborate Palm Court and choose from 17 different tea suggestions.

Hyde Park Chicago

For me as a child, we would pull into the parking lot of the Museum of Science and Industry to visit my favorite Yesteryear, the chickens hatching, Telephone Town and the coal mine. That was what Hyde Park was all about but over the decades I was curious to explore more beyond those museum walls in Hyde Park, Chicago.

Seven miles south of the Chicago Loop located on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan, the Hyde Park neighborhood hosts  the city’s most eclectic collection of antiquities, culture, historic landmarks including the college dwelling of U.S. President Barack Obama. Recognized as the established home for the University of Chicago and the 1893 World’s Columbia Exposition, Hyde Park has been a focal point for prominent guests such as Mary Todd Lincoln, who lived during the summer of 1865.

Museum of Science and Industry

Known as the Palace of Fine Arts at the World Columbian Exposition, this building originally housed the Field Museum which moved to the south loop in the 1920s. Currently, The Museum of Science and Industry is the largest science museum. Well known throughout the United States, the museum hosts the Apollo 8 spacecraft, the Pioneer Zephyr which was the first diesel fueled passenger train, a 3,500 square foot model train, a trip to a replica coal mine and a German submarine captured in World

Midway Plaisance

Originally the midway point of the World Columbian Exposition  providing knowledge of other world cultures, refreshments and the exciting new Ferris Wheel, today it is a one mile long park that has remained a green area  supported by the University of Chicago. Boosting cross street bridges  with a  breaking taking view of the buildings along the Midway, the area  has been refurbished with an ice skating rink for winter and expansive gardens during the summer. The word plaisance is French and defines a pleasure ground of nature.

Jackson Park

An expanse of 542.89 acres, Jackson Park was designed after the close of the World’s Columbian Exposition featuring the first golf course in 1893. The Golden Lady sculpture and the French’s Statue of the Republic are remnants of the fair. The Osaka Garden, a 17th Century stroll garden was established in 1934 and beyond the entrance gate, a peaceful abundance of lush plants, exotic trees will exemplify peace for the weary traveler.  If you enjoy bird watching, Jackson Park is home to over 200 species. In recent years, Jackson Park provides a gymnasium, fitness center, and basket ball/tennis courts.


Promontory Point

Located in Chicago’s Burnham park,  Promontory Point offers spectacular views of the city’s skyline and a great place to relax. The point was constructed as a man-made peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan and can be accessed by the Lakefront Trail, a  tunnel which passes under Lake Shore Drive at the east end of 55th Street. Promontory Point also offers a variety of special events such as movies and guest performers. Designed by Alfred Caldwell, the point offers the beauty of harbor beaches and exquisite natural meadows.


Robie House

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Robie House in Hyde Park is a prairie style example of his contemporary work also located on the campus of the University of Chicago. Tours are available that even include private spaces not readily available to the public. The Frederick C. Robie House is a national historic landmark and was designed in 1908 for the assistant manager of the Excelsior Supply Company. Robie and his wife Lora had selected the property in order to remain close to the University since his wife was a graduate.

Obama’s Home and Favorites

Coming to Chicago as a community organizer after graduating Harvard Law, Barack Obama lived in apartment 1n at 5429  Harper in Hyde Park if you are interested in sharing  the legacy of the President of the United States. After viewing his apartment, you may want to see the Hyde Park Hair salon and the chair where he used to get haircuts.  Located at 57th and Kimbark, for those who love the written word, stroll through the57th Street Books, another Obama favorite.

Court Theatre

Looking for professional theater, the Court Theatre on the campus of the University of Chicago provides innovative productions and classic plays  that have included Waiting for Godot, Agamemnon, Wait Until Dark, and The Glass Menagerie. Attended by over 35,000 each year, the award winning Court puts on five plays per season. It has been named the most consistently excellent theatre company in America by the Wall Street Journal.


After visiting the historical culture of Hyde Park, Valois cafeteria is one of the Obama family’s recommended eatery’s. After walking in the front, a sign indicates the President’s usual orders when in town. The restaurant provides comfort food with American specials such as  feta omelets for breakfast and a huge variety of beef.  In service for over a decade, Valois  greets customers with walls of murals that celebrates the Hyde Park neighborhood.  It has been said many times that if you live in Hyde Park, Valois is a family tradition.

Historic Pullman Chicago

It was in the early 1960’s that they planned on demolishing parts of Pullman to make way for industrial expansion especially between 111th and 115th. But Pullman residents including some of my own good friends, fought continuously to keep Pullman alive. They founded the Historic Pullman Foundation in 1973. Pullman was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971 and has received similar state and local designations. Through the years as I go travel back, I am amazed by the beauty of Pullmans original architecture.

The first planned industrial community for workers to work , live and worship with family  was the Pullman Historic District south of Chicago; a unique community established by George Pullman, founder of the Pullman Palace Car Company. In 1880, the project began with housing built as red brick row houses including indoor plumbing and spacious accommodations that workers had not been accustomed though workers did have to pay rent. However, the panic of 1893 devastated the railroad industry causing lowered wages and rents that were not decreased. It was just last two years ago that President Obama designated the historic neighborhood as a national monument.

Pullman Foundation Center

On the site of the Arcade Building, this is a great place to begin your tour of Pullman. The center provides a video of the history and exhibits that include antiques from the Pullman Mansion that was located on Prairie Avenue as well as historic rail service items. You can grab a walking tour brochure or plan a guided tour that is available the first Sunday of the month and lasts for about 90 minutes.

Hotel Florence

Known for its luxury and elegance, the Hotel Florence, named after George Pullman’s daughter, was opened in 1881 and cost around $100,000 including $ 30,000 in furniture that included maroon plush velvet upholstery and fine mahogany. A veranda 16 feet wide and 268 feet long extends around the front of the building. When opened, the hotel included a gentlemen’s reading room, a billiard room, lunch room and saloon. The hotel is currently being renovated and for the ghost hunter, many have said that the hotel is haunted.

Executive Row

Take a stroll on 111th street between St. Lawrence and Langley to view the Executive homes that were located near the Pullman company plant.  This row of homes was a showplace back in the day consisting of eight and nine rooms including several fireplaces and a basement in each. Even executives had to pay rent and the going rate was $28 to $50 a month.

Pullman and Arcade Parks

Designed by Pullman and hired architect, Solo S Berman, the Pullman Park was created for recreation and enjoying the green spaces  that are not interrupted by structures. Another Park in the Pullman community is Arcade Park donated by George Pullman once again. Formal carpeted gardens graced the park across  from the Arcade building that housed a post office, library and theatre but was demolished in 1926.

Pullman Factory Complex

Beside the administration building and clock tower, the factory building provided wonderful conditions for the working man. They were well lighted, ventilated with soft colors to provide a upbeat atmosphere, different from so many sweatshops of the era. The 1880 car manufacturing plant was a 700-foot long Queen Anne-influenced structure of brick with limestone accents. The Clock Tower and building was seriously damaged in 1998 by fire but was rebuilt in 2005 located at the northeast corner of 111th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue.

Greenstone Church

The sanctuary is unchanged  being built  in cherry wood with the original pews. The first tenants of the church were Presbyterian in 1887 but sold to the Methodists in 1907. The distinguished  Steere and Turner organ is one of the very  few manual track organs remaining in the US, the organ has had little repair over the last 100 years with the exception of being powered originally by hand bellows.  The organ contains 1260 pipes with two manuals for the hands  and can be a physical challenge to play, though a treasure for experienced musicians.

Gateway Garden

On the corner of 111th and Langley, the Gateway Garden was the size of 5 city lots with weeds and trash until the Historic Pullman Garden Club  received a grant from Chicago Botanic Garden for development.  Trees and spring bulbs were planted and now the garden offers spectacular color of various annuals, perennials and breathtaking curved seats of shrubbery ; a peaceful place to observe such beauty. The Garden Club hosts special events and tours throughout the spring and summer months.


A.Phillip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum

Celebrating 75 years of the national first Black Labor Union, Randolph and the Pullman Porters made real impact in African-American union history.  Pullman Porters were the best in railroad hospitality as they provided excellent service to passengers on Pullman’s luxury trains. In 1925, they established the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first labor union with Randolph as president. The museum provides a calendar of special events celebrating black history.

Pullman Cafe

Complete your tour with a cozy seat at the Pullman Cafe, with fresh fruit and homemade lemon bars or dreamy bread pudding.  The charming cafe also offers a Gotham Salad with toasted walnuts, a garlic sausage pizza, or just enjoy a cup of coffee with friendly staff and all the comforts of home.  The ambience of the Pullman Cafe provides a wonderful conclusions to your trip to historic Pullman. The Pullman cafe is open daily at 112th and Lawrence Ave but currently is closed for winter but will be opening on in March of 2018.

The best holiday plays in Chicagoland

My first trip to see the play, A Christmas Carol, was in April… not the holidays.  Mid 1960’s it was hosted at Drury Lane Theater in Evergreen Park and I sat through a 2 1/2 hour show with a broken arm. I tripped on a dimly lit step during an afternoon matinee for my best friend’s birthday party.  Unfortunately, the details of the performance are vague since I was focused on not moving my arm to avoid massive pain. That night, I was hospitalized at South Chicago Hospital which was the way of doing things back then and operated on the next day since my arm was broken in three places.

Since, I have enjoyed numerous performances and movies of A Christmas Carol without interruption. Today, if tickets are still available the Christmas Carol, can be enjoyed in the Chicago land area. Though the Evergreen Park Theater, is no longer open, Drury Lane Theater still exists and is presenting A Christmas Carol between now and Dec 23 at the Oakbrook Terrace theater.

Established in 1925, the Goodman Theatre has been a part of Chicago’s loop for over 80 years and I can’t remember the countless shows I have seen there. However, I will never forget one of the best performances of Long Day’s Journey Into Night. You can also see A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre Chicago through December 31st.

In the late 1960’s, I also got to the see the Nutcracker Ballet though it was difficult for me to understand the story when I was about 7 or 8 because I kept waiting for words in between dances. Though confused, I still could not take my eyes away from the amazing costumes, dance and music.

It is a story written in 1816 by German author E. T. A. Hoffmann, in which young Marie Stahlbaum’s favorite Christmas toy, the Nutcracker, comes alive and, after defeating the evil Mouse King in battle, whisks her away to a magical kingdom populated by dolls. The story begins on Christmas Eve.

I loved ballet and watching them stand on their toes, something I  could never get right.. I, too, took ballet early on as a young girl.

It is strange that I think about the Nutcracker this year since the Joffrey Ballet is performing this holiday masterpiece.  And I saw the Nutcracker again as an adult when the Joffrey was only New York and Los Angeles based. Now, the Joffrey, which trains to the highest standards, lives permanently in a new facility, Joffrey Tower, in Chicago.

It is also strange that I think of my childhood experience with the Nutcracker as I watch my first grade students learning the story in their music class. We have listened to the famous March, read the book, and watched a beautiful video with different interpretations, names, but always followed by the same exceptional music including  Waltz of the Flowers and Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Fifty years later, still, I am mesmerized by the video of creative color and song. My little ones cannot pull their eyes away from the beauty of the Nutcracker either.


Quieting the Storm

After grabbing the key that had been securely hidden from the eyes of most, I unlocked the door and stepped inside. As her professional caregiver, these were the instructions for taking care of her. She would wander the streets if the doors were not locked from the outside.

At first, it was quiet; maybe Emily was asleep and then I heard it.

“I don’t remember, you should know where Dennis lives,” her voice angry and desperate. “That’s why I called you,” she pleaded.

Knowing Emily was on the phone, I followed her anguish to the bedroom. She was pacing back and forth, the cordless in her hand. I noticed that directory assistance was talking to her. Emily had a son who lived in town named Dennis. Her husband of over 60 years was still alive, but recovering from a stroke and currently in a rehabilitation facility.

His absence played more havoc with her dementia, especially shortly before the hours of sundown. Emily’s symptoms of memory loss and confusion were much more enhanced during this time of day.

Gently taking the phone from her hand, I quickly apologized to 411 and put the phone on the receiver. Simultaneously, I grasped her arm, and looked into her eyes.

“I have Dennis’s phone number,” I said, waiting for some recognition before I continued. “Let’s call him”.

“Hi Mom,” he said and assured her that Dad would be home soon. But she would forget, and in a matter of minutes it would have to be repeated. She may not be sure of the time, date or even season. After she hung up, it seemed she had not been satisfied and started to become more agitated. Emily needed constant stimulation.

I got up and removed the painting from the nearby wall. Maybe she could tell me about the majestic movie house called The Chicago Theatre, with 1941 written on the marquee. Built in French Baroque in the 1920’s, the theatre was one of the most lavish in the country; remodeled in the 1980’s. As I brought the picture closer to her eyes, the tension began to fade.

“Oh my,” she started as she began to search for the answer, “My first date with my husband. Oh, he was such a good-looking man. The line of people that night reached all the way around the block to see The Lady Eve.”

Emily couldn’t remember if he was in the military, or his involvement in World War II, but she could remember how he held her hand in that line that seemed to stretch forever.

Giggling and moving closer while grasping my hand, she said, “I could tell he just didn’t have too much experience with the girls like I had with the guys.”

“How could you tell?” I asked.

“His hand was perspiring and shaking,” she laughed again.

“And you hooked him for sixty years…I imagine!”

“I knew he was the one the first night. He gave this painting to me for our anniversary.” She responded tenderly.

“Which anniversary?”

“I have no idea,” she giggled, “there were so many!”

Later, I found her wedding picture; a breathtaking bride with large eyes, dark hair and beautiful smile. But Emily seemed more interested in talking about her mother, after eyeing this photograph, who did not see her dressed in white because she had passed away before her marriage.

“My mom passed away just a few years ago,” I commented.

“You have a Dad,” she stated matter of fact.

“No, he is gone too.”

“Brothers and sisters?”

“Only child.” Emily just couldn’t fathom a 50+ woman to be the only one and parentless.

“I do have two children. I am a Mom like you too.”

That didn’t matter much to her; it was about who was going to take care of me. She asked if I was hungry…most mothers do. Her vivid heart and mind remained cognizant, regardless of the disability, of her partner’s love and parental obligation.

Love always somehow survives in the end. Every time I visited as her caretaker, we did it all again; sometimes the phone call, the Chicago theatre and their wedding. Always before leaving, she asked if she could cook me something to eat.

However, one Monday the routine had changed; allowing an astounding new journey to begin. Her son had told me that his daughter had just gotten married and because Emily was not in the best condition to attend the wedding, they brought the party to her the Saturday before. Emily dressed in her finest while receiving the wedding party, between the service and reception, in her living room.

New pictures were shared in front of the family fireplace; cake was cut and served along with dribbles of champagne. As I viewed the new pictures, the bride and grandmother shared the same tears.

On that autumn afternoon, with brilliant color shading the home, Emily displayed a new color in her cheeks and vibrancy in her eyes. This time she remembered every exciting detail of blossoming new love in front of her own fireplace that weekend; just like her own in first encounter in 1941.

(Originally published in Maria Shriver’s Architect of Change- Taking care of those with Alzheimers/2013http://archive.mariashriver.com/quieting-the-storm-karla-sullivan/