Mom of Moms...truly hoping you can say that about your Mother past or present. I need to introduce my Mom to you and yes pay tribute to a great woman. She's left us at too early of an age though (70) and yes I still miss her. Rose Bishop (maiden name Bogatay) was called home in 1990 and truly I think of her on a daily basis and speak to her frequently. Mom was the Slovenian 50% of our DNA and like many Slovenians her family settled in the E. 55th / St. Clair area of Cleveland. Proudly only Ljubljana, the Capital of Slovenia, has more Slovenians in one city than Cleveland!
Mom was raised at 995 E. 78th Street along with 4 brothers and a sister and her Dad was gone more than he was home due to TB. I know money was tight (like it was for so many in those days) as she told me in hot weather they would scrap some of the tar from the street and chew on that as a treat. Swimming was her escape. There is a still a rec center on St. Clair where she went swimming. The great Cleveland artist Hector Vegas has used the centers walls for a canvas and for a good part of the year Mom and friends would stroll to Lake Erie to swim. Her Parish was St. Vitus (still vibrant today) and she was an East High Blue Bomber. It could not have been easy when 3 brothers went to war and the letter from the Chaplain came noting that Andrew Bogatay was killed by a sniper on Saipan. Tough too that both her other Brothers (Ben and Ed) were on ships hit by Kamikaze pilots but survived.
We lived at 3412 E. 53rd when I came around and as the years went on I remember vividly walking across the street for Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes. I can still see my Dad sitting on the front stoop (no deck, no patio, no porch, just a step) reading the Sunday paper and I could smell my Mom making Sunday dinner. Of course in nice weather the windows would be open and Mom would put a nice tablecloth on the same table where we had all our other meals to make it "nicer for Sunday." She would complain when soot from the mills, especially Republic Steel would get in the house and Dad would say "Rose that's America working." She understood. She made the best of 4 of us in a one bedroom house...500 square feet never felt more like home! One thing I remember vividly too was Mass on Sunday plus Holy Days was a given. End of discussion and if you claimed to be sick you went and prayed to get better!
Off to Lee - Harvard and a home at 3990 Jo Ann drive with 3 bedrooms and a full basement! Mom never learned to drive and it was imperative we were on a bus line! Her cooing always stood out to me and her amazing low budget gourmet meals were top of the line. People talk about Sky Line chili? Rose Bishop would make her chili and the next day it was chili with spaghetti noodles in it and the day after chili mac! How she took that stewing chicken, made soup then somehow had baked, broiled or grilled chicken that was GOOD still blows my mind. School was at St. Henry and if you walked to school you walked home for lunch! That's right...the nuns were NOT baby sitters and every day there was a bowl of soup and a sandwich waiting for lunch. It was amazing that she took myself and my sister Marsha (4 years younger) everywhere...on the bus, If we had to transfer 3-4 times no problem. She also was great at taking the wagon to get groceries about 15 blocks away and if she needed 1 item I would run to Lamboy's deli for her and yes, I got a nickle to get a pack of baseball cards.
Mom was also my Dad's agent as he had a rule...he would come home from the plant dirty...dusty, oily and grimy but had a rule...if i was there ready to have a catch, shoot hoops or toss the pig skin around he would set down his lunch pail and give me 1/2 hour of time. How did we know when time was up? Mom would appear at the back door with a highball, newspaper and Lucky Strike. I remember too delivering the PRESS and since Mom did not drive it was me...10 degrees or a monsoon me and my bike. I can remember like yesterday her rushing me to the sink to put COLD WATER on my ice cold hands. That actually warmed them up. We also had a lot of hand me downs but they were always clean, pressed and holes were patched or sewn up. She did it all! If she got a call from the Principal at St. Henry that "Mark just threw up" she would hike to school and walk me back home.
Off to Solon at 6566 Glenallen Dr. and Mom was a bit dismayed that there was only 1 bus out in the morning and 1 bus in but settled in nicely to her new split level. She did not drive but never missed any kind of school or activity meeting and her veggie garden kept us going most of the year. Again her meals were amazing and one of my faves was Rose's version of Sloppy Joe's! Ground meat and cream of mushroom soup! I am craving a sandwich now. Family was important too and Thanksgiving and Easter were with Mom's family. We always had Christmas at our place and flipped with others for Turkey Day. I remember her soft side too and she was all for letting you take a day off of school of you needed a break. Truly as long as there were no tests or practices she was all in.
When I went to college she started waiting tables at little restaurants in Solon and would send a few bucks here and there to myself then to my sister. Dad got laid off one time and she took a job OVER NIGHT at a plant that made Styrofoam cups. She was a rock star. I will also never forget in HS that if I had a female friend over and we were in the family room "talking" she would knock 3 times, count to 5 then open the door so she could get to the laundry room. THANKS MOM for the heads up.
As the years went on we grew closer as I could see all that she had done with us, for us and the sacrifices she made plus the work ethic she taught us. Truly she also voiced her approval (and it not easy to gain) on "girl friends" I introduced to the family. I know I have stressed her cooking and that was the tip off something was amiss. Her holiday meals were great...freaking unbelievable...and the last one she made (Christmas 1989) I knew something was up as she did not stay up all night making her potica and the meal was just very good...not up to her usual standards. She said to us "i just don't feel right but will bounce back next year." Early in January she had some tests at the Clinic and the Doc called and asked if we could all come see him. I remember walking in to his office and Mom held my hand and Dad's hand. That is when we found out she had liver and pancreatic cancer and odds are it would not be long. We planned her treatments and on the way home she said "let's go to Corky and Lenny's for Matzo Ball soup."
The chemo was painful and did not help so it was Mom who made the call. She only asked to be at home.I was able to come home every weekend and my sister and Dad along with Hospice from the Western Reserve really provided the care needed starting in the middle of March. I will never forget getting her a new TV and setting it up in her room. She went to get out of bed and I know it hurt like heck to change the channel. I said "Mom you have a remote" and just like her upbringing which was filled with loved but meager when it came to worldly things she said "I do not want to wear the remote out"! I was called the last weekend of March into April that I better get home and bring a suit. I did not like the call. We knew she was slipping quickly starting on a Friday and I will never forget the UNLV vs UNC National Championship game April 2, 1990. Everyone else was sleeping when I came upstairs to check on her at 1/2 time and she squeezed my hand and gave me a pained smile. After the game I walked by her room and she was not alone...two angels were on the bed with her and I knew she had been called HOME. I sat with her holding her before I got my Dad then my sister and her son up.
I thought about her more today and about my wife, Mother to our 4 children (5 if you ask her as she counts me) and what she has gone through as a cancer survivor. I will visit Rose tomorrow but it will be at Roselawn Cemetery. Hope you were able to hug YOUR Mom today and say "mine is the Mom of Moms."