Mom the marketing master

Nancy Hope Fish (May 9, 1937 – May 24, 2001).  What a great middle name by the way.  Her first husband was my Father.  After he left, she would remarry twice and have two more boys.  She didn’t have a college degree but I’d put her up against anyone with an M.B.A. …

Born in “Home Town U.S.A”, (Glens Falls, NY), nestled on the shores of the mighty Hudson river near the foothills of the Adirondacks, she was raised in classic small town Americana.  My Mother was one of 5 children to a rather unconventional couple, at least for those times.  Grandmother Fish was an “old school” teacher you didn’t want to cross.  She was very religious, didn’t drink, smoke, and worked around the clock.

Grandfather Fish was her complete opposite.  While his wife was raised on a farm in rural Hartford, NY by her biological parents, he was raised by a series of Aunts.  Apparently he performed on Vaudeville or so I’ve heard, and loved his cold brews till the day he died.  My cousin and I would catch him hiding his Miller High Life behind some pictures on a book shelf or some other obscure location.  He would always retort that he was just “keeping it cool” and out of the sunlight.  Actually, Grandpa was keeping it out of Grandma’s sight.

It’s certain my Mom inherited a lot from her Father, as her 1955 High School Senior year book “Bio” details…

“Nancy’s witty remarks, laughter, and singing will echo in the halls and locker rooms for G.F.H.S. for many years to come” 

As a child, I recall her playing her “Ukulele” when friends would gather on the porch or deck of one of the many homes we lived in, as her second husband’s job required a relocation every 2 years.  She never seemed to lack friends, from Norwich to Ithaca, Pleasant Valley to Merrimack, to our families final stop, Kittery, ME.  Like I said, my Mom could sell it…

For a divorced young women in 1964 with a child, she certainly sold herself to her second husband, as he would adopt me and raise their own children as well.  Believe me, we weren’t easy to raise, as Mom held the position of home-maker, Mother, Wife, and neighborhood Karaoke performer…

She somehow taught 3 boys without much male mentoring how to behave, adapt to constant moves and new schools.  If anyone thinks that “stay at home Moms” don’t have real jobs, try playing one for a week.  You see, her second husband worked in retail, and it seemed he was never at home.  I played sports, all of them, and have little memory of him so much as throwing a ball with me, let alone teaching me how to compete.  Neither of his own children can recall much in regards to quality time either, so Mom was it…

In her later years, after Mom came back to her “home town U.S.A”, she was beaten down and discouraged from the second man leaving her.  I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a good wife, but she sure could market herself.  Finding yet another man to take her hand, she married again as I was off to college down South.

Jack was a good man, and Nancy loved him.  Alas, he died unexpectedly in 1994 leaving Mom alone again.  I remember one episode when I came to visit, and actually wrote a column about the anger that would erupt from her after so many years of disappointment and despair.

Was my Mother perfect, God no.  Time and abandonment had taken a toll.  Yet every time I hear her favorite song, I see her playing that little string instrument through the years, selling it and smiling, and it brings me to tears….

“Everybody’s talking at me, I don’t hear a word they’re saying, only the echoes of my mind.  People stopping, staring, I cant see their faces, only the shadows of their eyes.  I’m going where the sun keeps shining, through the pouring rain, going where the weather suits my clothes.  Banking off of the North East winds, sailing on a Summer breeze, and skipping over the ocean like a stone.  I wont let you leave my love behind, no I wont let you leave my love behind”…. -Harry Nilsson 

Rest in peace Mom on this Mothers day, 2020.  I miss you and wont forget the love you left behind, its always on my mind…