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Friday, May 10, 2013

Remembering Mom

The mother of Here & Now producer Alex Ashlock. (Courtesy Alex Ashlock)

Margaret Ashlock, mother of Here & Now producer Alex Ashlock, in 2000. (Courtesy Alex Ashlock)

My mom died in the fall of 2003. She died at my sisters’s house in New Hampshire in a room I still have a hard time going into 10 years later. My dad had already been gone for a long time. He died in 1981.

When your parents are dead, it’s like a huge part of your life story is locked away inside a house you don’t live in anymore.

I miss them both of course, but especially my mom, because she’s the reason I do what I do today. She’s the reason I read, listen and write. When I was growing up there were always newspapers in our house. When we lived in North Carolina it was the Durham Morning Herald. Later, in southern Illinois it was the St. Louis Globe Democrat in the morning and the Alton Telegraph in the evening. I remember how proud she was when the Telegraph published a letter to the editor I had written, an indignant response to a negative review of a J. Geils Band concert at the Mississippi River Festival.

The radio was always on in our house. We had one of those big old Admiral TV, radio and record player sets. I could pick up just about any radio station east of the Mississippi River on that radio. Later, we would listen to to KMOX out of St. Louis. Harry Caray and Jack Buck did the Cardinals baseball games, but there were also great personalities on that station, hosts like Jack Carney.

The parents of Here & Now's Alex Ashlock. (Courtesy Alex Ashlock)

Margaret and Ray Ashlock, the parents of Here & Now’s Alex Ashlock in the 1930s. (Courtesy Alex Ashlock)

I think she thought Jack Carney was just about the funniest man in the world and I’m not sure she was wrong.

My mom, God bless her, also let me watch the old TV show “Playboy After Dark” on Saturday nights. She watched it with me and we saw Steppenwolf on that show. It’s funny what you remember.

My mom had a hard time after my dad died. They had been married more than 40 years. She probably drank too much for a period of time after he passed. But she never stopped being a mom to me or my sister. And she loved being a grandmother to my three sons. They called her “swimming pool Grandma” because she had a pool at her condo in southern Illinois. She used to play this silly game with them at the pool. She’d be sitting in her chair and the boys would run and jump out over the water. She would yell “cereal” or some other thing and they would have to yell back an answer, like “fruit loops” before they hit the water. They loved that game.

My favorite photo of my mom shows her in the backyard hammock at my sister’s house. The dogs are on the grass beneath her. It’s three years before the cancer killed her and she’s smiling in the late summer sunshine without a care in the world.

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t want to call her to ask her how things are at the pool or how the Cardinals are doing.

Not a day goes by.

Alex Ashlock is director and producer of Here & Now.


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  • Lynn

    just lovely
    thanks Alex

  • Robin Y

    me too. (the calling part). thanks for this Alex.. have good memories Sunday! 

    Robin 

  • Nancitab1

    that it is the sweetest remembrance I may have ever read.
    My Dad died not 3 months ago. He retired in 1987, to live a great life with my Mom on the road. They bought timeshares to continue their travels without being tethered to a single place. 
    Then he started his second job. Mom was given a “provisional” diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease.
    She got so scared and so angry so soon. I miss her daily too. 
    My first dream about her after she died in 2004, was to see her without that fear, without the lost look in her eyes.
    In my dream, she was standing next to her new Honda Civic. I told her that I liked her new, shiny, cool car.
    We only had station wagons for 6 kids. I was so happy that she finally had her very own car.
    Thank you for giving us a glimpse of your Mom in your loving story.

    • Alex Ashlock, Here and Now

      Thanks. That’s a nice dream. I have dreams all the time about my mom. But she never has a new car in any one them?  

  • http://www.facebook.com/dinofelis Margaret Lewis

    My mom died in 2008 and my dad in 2003.  Your quote “….your life story is locked away inside a house you don’t live in anymore.”  really touched me.  That is exactly what it is like, especially as I don’t have any siblings.  I like your description much better than what my then 5 year old told me in 2008:  “Now you’re an orphan!”…..although his description wasn’t completely inaccurate  in terms of how I felt at the time.  Thank you for sharing stories about your mom and your family and her lovely photos.

    • Alex Ashlock, Here and Now

      Thank you Margaret. Nice name by the way. Your 5-year-old’s comment was beyond his age. Thanks for listening. 

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