Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Eleanor Ann Fox, Rest in Peace, Mother

My mother passed away last Tuesday morning. I felt like it was important to share this here, as there wouldn't be a Kyle's Bed & Breakfast if not for her. Not only because she gave birth to me, but also because of all of the support and encouragement she gave me throughout my life, to pursue my dreams and to aim for excellence in whatever I do.

My mother was an amazing person.... beautiful, brilliant, generous, kind, and extremely hard-working. She graduated from high school at 15, after being accelerated 2 grades, and got her bachelor's degree 4 years later, graduating from college at 19, when most people are just getting started with college! From there, she went immediately into her chosen field, teaching.

Liberated before there was ever a "Women's Lib" movement, I don't think it ever occurred to her to be anything but a strong, confident self-sufficient woman.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, her father was from Italy, and her mother was of Irish-German descent. My mother had the gorgeous, crystal blue eyes of her father, which apparently are quite common in the Naples region of Italy where he was born. (My older brother & sister inherited them, too, and I suppose I did also, although with a touch of green from my Irish father's side). She actually modeled for a bit, back when the big NYC department stores had women modeling clothes on runways for the public to observe and be dazzled by. But I think she was far more interested in books and intellectual pursuits to ever take that too seriously.

She met my father, (also a teacher, also born & raised in Brooklyn, NY), in her mid-twenties. After they were married, they eventually moved out on to Long Island, to Huntington, (in the West Hills area, most famous for being Walt Whitman's birthplace). She took some years off from teaching to raise my brother, sister, and myself, (I came along a bit later than my brother and sister, born when my mother was almost 40. But she took it in stride, going back to college to get her Masters degree soon after I was born, and then back to teaching).

Life wasn't always happy times for my mother, though. When I was 10 years old, a couple of years after we'd moved to a new house in Cold Spring Hills, my father passed away. Incredibly, my mother kept our living situation stable. Thank God for her successful teaching career. We never lost our house, and I never felt like we were in need in any way. She had a way of making me feel safe, secure, and well-cared for.



















That included making sure I was able to go to college & get my BA degree at Geneseo College, a magnificent experience for which I have her to thank. I'm also grateful that she, (and my father), were of the philosophy that one should go for a career where your heart is, not necessarily where the money is, (and if they can coincide, that's great, too! But she never put the pressure on me to find some Wall Street-type job, when that so clearly was not where my head was at).

My mother felt it was very important to travel, so, from a very young age, I saw the world at her side. Originally, my whole family went on some amazing trips together, but after my father passed away, and my brother & sister were off on their own, my Mother and I traveled together, just the 2 of us, far & wide. Because we have plenty of family in California, that also meant a lot of trips there. (Some people still think I'm from California, due to my accent and general demeanor). The fact that California is such a rich part of my history and life-experience is another thing I have my mother to thank for. We also went on a number of great vacations with my Aunt Sheila and Uncle Vincent, which may have started my love affair with the state of Vermont.

After I'd went to college, and in the years afterward, I'm so glad my mother got to go off traveling on a bunch of great trips with her friends, to see the places she'd always dreamed of. Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Ireland, and a lot of other places, (I'm especially glad she got to see France, as she'd always dreamed of going to Paris). She also started a new phase of her life after retiring; never one to sit still for long, and always eager to help people, she became a dedicated volunteer for many years at Huntington Hospital.

My mother and I were both big fans of figure skating, and I have many warm memories of us watching the competitions on TV and critiquing the various skaters. I think it reminded her of her dancing days, back in college when she was voted the best dancer in the Newman Club.

Some of my warmest memories, too, are of the TV shows we'd watch together and talk about. I think her favorite of all time was the Mary Tyler-Moore Show. She just loved that show, and I think I may need to buy the DVD box sets just to somehow feel closer to her now. She also liked a lot of the police shows like Hill Street Blues and LA Law, and of course Law & Order. She would often mention that if she were to do it all over again, she'd like to have become a lawyer. And she was a BIG fan of ER, especially of George Clooney, (who, she always would mention, "has a very handsome father").

I don't want to sugarcoat everything here; it's not like we had a Norman Rockwell family relationship. (Even Norman Rockwell didn't have a Norman Rockwell family relationship! Trust me, I'm a big fan, I read his biography). This is really my own fault, but... knowing the strong Catholic background of my mother, I never really felt comfortable discussing many gay topics with her. It's not like I was in the closet with her, (please, she was too smart and I'm too outspoken for that to ever happen. And then, of course, the New York Times interviewed me about Kyle's Bed & Breakfast, which, believe me, is a good way to come out to everyone in your life in one shot). But I just never felt very comfortable including her in that aspect of my life. However, she met and was quite friendly with my boyfriends, and I never heard her utter a single anti-gay phrase or sentiment, about anyone. Perhaps I should've been more inclusive; she was certainly sophisticated and intelligent enough to handle it. This was completely my fault.

But then, things were getting difficult for my mother as the years passed. After 2002, she began having some very serious health issues. Facing them all with her usual grace and fortitude, it was admirable, but heart-wrenching. I'm grateful I was able to be there for her, for so many of the doctor's visits and various challenges. But it was a darker time for her. For someone who was so used to traveling and living independently, it frustrated her to not be able to drive anymore, to go to the supermarket, (something she loved to do previously), to go traveling the world. The past year was particularly challenging, and the past month, excruciating. I'm grateful, at least, that in her final week, she was able to go somewhat peacefully.

My mother never remarried after my father died. She never dated, never even showed much interest in any other men, (except for perhaps George Clooney.... and his father! LOL). Seriously, though... I think she was so in love with my father, and missed him so much, she just couldn't bear to be with anyone else.

I'd like to think they're finally together now, after all this time, after all these struggles. I hope you're in a joyful, sweet place, Mommy... you've earned it.

I love you, and I miss you so much.

66 comments:

Projectra said...

Greg, I'm so sorry for your loss. Know you are in my thoughts.

Gary

Anonymous said...

My condolences on the death of your mother. This is a wonderful tribute to her and your love for her.

Coral

Séoj said...

It sounds to me as if you had a decent, loving childhood, with a great mother. Don't worry about the sugar coding moments... for those are the ones that we keep closest to our hearts.

My sincerest condolences go to you and your family.

Sincerely,
J. Alexander Hewes a.k.a. Séoj

Doug said...

My heart goes out to you, for she is not far from you. Her spirit is there and you have those wonderful treasures of memory of this unique lady in your life.

Tiger Hugs
Doug, Baltimore Md

Wei said...

Hey greg,

I'm sorry for your loss too; but the memories seem to be amazing, and nothing can take that away from you.

hugs
Wei, Singapore

rudy said...

My deepest condolences Greg. I think that the hardest thing a son has to do, particularly a gay son, is to bury his mother. Both my partner and I have lost our mothers and not a day goes by that they are not in our thoughts.

Trust that time will heal--slowly but surely; the grief will be overtaken by the warm and lasting memories.

Your tribute was touching and revealed a strong and talented woman who raised a strong and talented son.

Anonymous said...

I'm very sorry to hear of your mother's passing. You do her much honor. Thank you for sharing her story.

-Jeremy

Anonymous said...

You wrote a wonderful tribute to your mother. By the time I finished reading it, I felt that I knew her very well. Treasure the memories of the good times you had together.

Starr said...

To know that she has the love of her son, and that her son loves her just as much--what more could a mom ask for.

Transitions are always challenging; and the memories that they leave behind will always be with us.

--Benneton, San Diego

Peter said...

My condolences on the death of your mother. This is a great tribute to her.

Frater Gymnos said...

she's so beautiful.

just like you.

Marc said...

Greg, your mother will always be with you. Here's hoping that your memories will always keep her close to your heart.

John said...

I am sorry for you loss, sounds like she was a really wonderful woman.

Phil said...

As the others before me, I'm sorry for your loss. Your beautiful tribute will ensure she will always be remembered. Take care.
Phil, Colorado

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry, I know exactly how you feel, I lost my mom seven years ago she was also a teacher. My heart goes out to you and your family.- Tevans

- Gibson said...

I am so sorry for your loss...From your tribute I know that she is looking down and smiling and will always be with you. - Gibson, FL

Anonymous said...

My deepest condolences on your loss. It has been nearly 20 years since my own mother passed and not a day goes by that I don't think of her and thank her for the many blesssings and encouragements she gave me. I know you understand that she will always hold a special place in your heart, and in a small special way, in mine as well. I am a devoted reader and know that a part of her is in every strip you draw as she is very much a part of who you are.

Anonymous said...

Greg:

I am sorry for your loss and realize how much your mother's death must hurt. In time, the pain will dull. Please remember she lives on in you and the great work you do. Eleanor can rest in peace from the pain; knowing she did a fantastic job in raising a talented and caring son.

Lance

Rob S. said...

Dear Greg,
I am so very sorry to hear about your loss. I know how close you were to your mom and how much you both meant to each other. What a loving tribute you give her here. You will always have her close to your heart and in your fond memories. My own mother also passed away in January. I know the pain can be great but it will lessen with time and only happy thoughts will remain. You are in my thoughts. *hugs* Your friend, Rob

Anonymous said...

I'm very sorry to hear about your mom. She sounded like a truly remarkable, wonderful woman. Ron

nick said...

To the woman who gave birth to an extraordinary man, you will forever be in our thoughts and prayers. May God give you strength in this time of grief.

Anonymous said...

You have my deepest sympathy. You wrote a beautiful heartfelt tribute and please remember that you always have good memories of your mother with you. Without your parents we would not have you. Without you, we would not have Kyle's Bed and Breakfast. Your mother has touched us through you.

-Choc

tyvek33 said...

Greg,
So sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing with us the legacy of your mother. She is a wonderful woman. Peace be with you.

Anonymous said...

Greg, I am sorry for your loss. I lost my mother in 1993 and I still haven't gotten over it. I know how you feel. It's hard to lose someone that you are close to. I have never been good at goodbyes, so I'll just say that you two will meet again...
BM

JD said...

Greg,

My sincerest condolences. What a wonderful tribute to a life. You will always have the memories, and love is eternal, it will always be there for you.

Best, JD

Z-Maker said...

Oh Greg...
That was simply beautiful.
Thank you for sharing your wonderful mother with the rest of us.
Her spirit certainly lives on in you and no doubt she and your father are reunited once again.
My sincerest condolences.

Lots of Love to you.

~Z.

ftemery said...

Thanks for letting us get to know your mom. She was truly a beautiful person (and those clothes!) with courage and common sense as well. Now a bit of her will live on in all the rest of us as well.
Emery Walters

Greg said...

Greg, what a beautiful tribute. May your fond memories of good times together bring you peace and smiles. I'm sure she was very proud of you! How could she not be?

Dave said...

Greg -- thank you for sharing such a lovely portrait of your mother. She was a lovely person, inside and out, and certainly did a great job as a mother. I know there will be a hole that will never quite be filled again in your heart with her death but that will just serve to remind you of how much you love her. I hope your keep this tribute handy to read to yourself at times when you are really missing her. My sincerest condolences.
Dave

David said...

Greg,

Sorry to hear about your mother. Your tribute was wonderful and touching.

David

Skip G. said...

I'm sorry to hear of your mother's passing. Both my partner and I have lost our mothers also. His was several years ago, mine last year; so we know some of what you are feeling. Just know that she is now with your father again celebtating with other friends and relatives. We'll continue to pray for you during this time. Take care my friend.

Neil said...

Mr. Fox:
Please accept my condolences. May your mom be forever wraped in the bonds of eternal life.
Neil.

Michael said...

Greg - what a beautiful appreciation of your mother. Although she's in a different place now, she will be with you always, alive in new ways. Not in the sense of that short Woody Allen movie where his departed mother hovers over the Chrysler Building haranguing him, but in a good and warming way.

Best wishes
Michael, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Dan Smith, Port Coquitlam, BC said...

Greg, my deepest condolences on the loss of your mother. She will live in your heart always.

Scott MacMastrer said...

What a beautiful lady in all aspects of her life. Thank you for sharing your memories with us. My thoughts are with you. Thank you for Kyle's and for doing all that you do. <3

buff said...

Greg: What a beautiful and moving tribute to your wonderful and dear Mom.

Reading it made me think of very important Moms are to their gay sons.

I really liked the portions where you didn't want to "sugarcoat" your memories. Yes, life does has its ups and downs, but it is always the "ups" that get us through the "downs".

I can see how much you loved her and she loved you. I am sure she is looking down from heaven and smiling at you frequently.

She brought you into the world and shared you with all of us.

On that point alone, I am most grateful that she gave you to all of us so that we may be able to share your talents and treasures.

Mega hairy muscle hugs wishing you always happy memories of your sweet Mom.

timbrat said...

Greg: It's no suprise your mother was amazing woman... after all, from amazing parents come amazing people... sorry for your loss. I tear up a bit thinking about it. I wish you peace.

Kent C. said...

What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful woman. Thank You for shareing this with the rest of us.Though the following times may leave you feeling empty, know that with time this will pass. Your in my thoughts and prayers. Again, Thank You for all you do. Kent C. Twin Falls ID.

Anonymous said...

So very sweet, reflective, and filled with love. Your mom sounds like a wonderful woma, much loved, with a life well lived and full... My thoughts are with you.... Peace.
Dano in Seattle

Anonymous said...

I'm very sorry to hear about your loss.

Anonymous said...

Such beautiful words about her
she would be proud :-)

Alex K said...

She sounds amazing. And great tribute to her.

Anonymous said...

My deepest sympathies, Greg. Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to your mother. God Bless.

Andrew

Ming said...

Sorry for your loss Greg. She sounds like a wonderful person, and I know she is really proud of you.

Matt said...

My heart goes out to you. Thanks for sharing the story of your mom and family with us.

Perhaps a mom will make an appearance at the B&B. Save that thought for later.

For now, please accept a long distance hug from a loyal fan.

Anonymous said...

Dear Greg:my condolences on your dear mothers death.You wrote a touching description of her.You makle our lives happy with your Art.I hope that will help sustain you at this moment.God bless you!

Bruh said...

I'm a fan of your work/Kyle's BnB.
I'm just now reading about your
great loss, and I want to offer my
condolences. Your mom was a beauty
(I thought that was Vivien Leigh as
Scarlett, at first glance), and after reading your tribute, it seems she was just as beautiful on
the inside. I'm sure she was, and
IS, very proud of you.

kyrephex said...

Greg, I, too, am sorry for your loss. Your tribute was wonderful and the pictures and memories you've posted were touching and heartwarming. She'll still be part of your life and always be with you, and now, we can remember her, too.

Mike said...

My condolences on your loss. Your mother sounds like she was an amazing woman...and it also sounds like you have a lot of love and wonderful memories of her to keep in your mind and heart. May that love and those memories keep her spirit alive for you and let you keep her close as time moves on.

Anonymous said...

Having lost my mother some time ago, I have since learned that while the loss is always there, the pain is considerably lessened by the warm memories and knowledge of what was passed on to me thru her. You have written a warm and wonderful tribute and I am sure you know that she will always be with you. My condolences to you and your family. I can say that I was blessed by this woman, because of her your work has entered my life. Be well, be strong

Joey
Chicago, IL

Anonymous said...

I'm very sorry for your loss. I'm caring for my nearly 90 year old mother now. Your tribute to your mother was touching.

Anonymous said...

Mr.Greg i want you to know that you have my deepest sympathies on the loss of your mother. Iread the tribute and it wis one of the most moving and touching tributes that a child could write for a parent. Just take comfort in knowing that she will be remembered and loved by all those whom lives she touch and brought joy to.

SupesGVL said...

Mr. Fox,

Your tribute was beautiful in it's simplicity and honesty. The loss of a Mother is hard, but especially in the circumstances you describe.

Remember the good times and draw strength from that. I lost my Mom 14 years ago and that is what made the loss more bearable.

With my deepest sympathy,

Jamie

Anonymous said...

I just came to know about your loss.
I'm very sorry and I read with great emotion your tribute.
Andrea from Italy

supermale said...

First of all: my Deepest Sympathy!
Second: You did loose your Mother in a physical way, but she's a part of you and we all get to enjoy that in your art! Your way of showing your emotion in your art is due to your mother....she was a godess down to earth, if I may say so (according to your tribute). She made you(partly, because you did discover live your own way) to what you are now and that is the biggest tribute you can ever give a Mother!!! Feel free to let the tears roll, but thank her with every tear you cry.....

supermale said...

i have a blogger if you want to reply.....sorry...

Palinlondon said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your mother's passing. My thoughts are with you.
Pal

Vince P said...

Greg, she was so obvious an incredible person and support system for you! I send you my best

E N G E L said...

Greg,

I am very happy for you because you had a great mother, a friend, a role model. Not everybody is that lucky.

I lost mine when i was just 9 y/o. Now I'm 32 and still miss the good friends we could have been.

I send you love,

Victor

Buck said...

Greg,

I missed the posting about your mother passing and just read your tribute. It was beautiful and loving. You're in my thoughts and prayers.

Now I'm going to look for some tissue since reading that made me cry like a baby.

Buck, Atlanta

Rod said...

My heart goes out to you right now. I remember when I lost my mother. It seemed like the end of the world. But as they say....time heals all. But it's been 20 years, and there are still times I miss her. Good luck and hang in there.

Xavier said...

Toutes mes condoléances.
Sorry about yourloss. Those pictures arevery beautiful: see looked like a movie star!

Anonymous said...

Greg,
Sorry for your loss. What a lovely tribute to your mother.
I know you will miss her, but as you wrote she is in a better place. My thoughts are with you.

Joseph said...

What a beautiful, loving tribute to your Mother! I am very sorry for your loss.

Dave said...

Greg~
I lost my mother a year and a half ago. So I know how you feel. It is rough, but it sounds like she lived a good life and raised good children. She is free and and peace now. But as long as you keep her memory alive, she will be close. Peace

Pete said...

Hello Greg,
I was just checking your web site and read your tribute to your mom. So beautiful!!! Sorry to hear of her passing. Glenn and myself send our condolences and prayers. Remember if ever you need us just give us a call. Hope to see you soon.
With Love, Pete and Glenn
and Thor...aka Frosty ;)