Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oscar, The Girls, and Me

I've loved watching the Academy Awards ever since I was a little girl. My mother loved the Oscars, and way back in the 1960s we kids were allowed to stay up late to watch the entire show, a big deal when we had to get up and go to school the next day. As with any other family tv night, we were each allowed to have one bowl of potato chips and one glass of Pepsi as a treat. Mom would "ooh" and "ah" at the gowns, and shriek with excitement as her favourite movie stars paraded on to present or accept awards. Mom's exclamations of "oh my god, she's looking old - beautiful - ill, etc." were replaced over the years with her observations about who had obviously been spending money on plastic surgery. She'd be blown away on the latter, these days.

I may be dating myself, but I note each passing year that while the Oscars continue to showcase famous and beautiful celebrities, there just aren't the same calibre of "movie stars" in Hollywood as there were back in the day. I am thinking, for example, about the likes of the iconic Bette Davis, Susan Hayward, Rock Hudson, Jack Lemmon, and even Rosalind Russell before we knew she was a terrible mother. I don't think we have seen Elizabeth Taylor at the Oscars for years, and tonight Kirk Douglas looked like the oldest person still alive in Hollywood. As the survivor of a massive stroke, he is still doing pretty good. Tonight's show payed homage to Bob Hope, who hosted the Oscars more often than any other person. I met him once. In 1987, while I was standing in the Empress Hotel lobby, Bob wandered down the hall with his entourage and when he passed me he tipped his hat ever so slightly and looked me straight in the eye and said "Isn't it a beautiful day?" I was completely stupefied but managed to reply, "It certainly is, Mr. Hope." Moments later I phoned my mother (collect, of course) from the hotel pay phone, and cried with shock when I told her what had happened. She loved Bob Hope, always.

During the last years of my mother's life (she died at age 68, way too young), she and I would as often as possible, get together to watch Hollywood's big night unfold. The last time we did so was in 2000, just a couple of months before she died from leukemia. My aunt was visiting from Montreal, and as had become our tradition, we wore our pyjamas and snacked throughout the night as we watched Gladiator take best picture, and Russell Crowe win Best Actor for his role in that film. We were thrilled to watch Julia Roberts pick up her first Oscar as Best Actress for Erin Brockovitch. It was an amazing night as I recall, although bittersweet for me, knowing that it would be the last time I would share that tradition with my mother.

Luckily for me, I have two daughters and so, the tradition can continue, albeit in a somewhat different manner. This afternoon, Yoga Kid and I headed over to First Born's apartment early so that we could catch the red carpet show. We dined on Noodle Box (most excellent southeast Asian take out) and Yoga Kid's gluten free chocolate mint cupcakes. I have no idea where that kid learned how to bake. I wore pyjamas and First Born wore sweats, but Yoga Kid was rather overdressed as she had to leave half way through the show to go to a dress rehearsal for a fashion show she's modelling in next Friday.

I have to note several freakish changes in our world since the last time I watched the Oscars with my mother. Tonight, while Yoga Kid snuck out for her rehearsal, we PVR'd the show and simply checked back in where we had left off when she returned. We may have had VHS recorders back in the day, but nothing so convenient as a PVR. Furthermore, the three of us were afraid to check our Facebook accounts while we were in Oscar hiatus, in case people were FBing information about the winners. They were, so I'm glad I didn't check. There was no Facebook when my mom was still living, but I think she would have been an FBer. She sure would have enjoyed the show tonight, and the company. I know that if things were different and she were here, she would have wished to spend an Oscar evening such as this one with both of her own daughters and all of her granddaughters. I think she would have wondered where all of the old stars have gone, and Kirk Douglas would have freaked her out some, but she would have enjoyed the cupcakes, for sure.

Although there is no indication (whatsoever) on the horizon that either First Born or Yoga Kid ever plan on having daughters fly out of their loins (and I am fine with that), I told them tonight how much I treasure what is now becoming our own Oscar tradition. They drive me batty sometimes, but I really like them both a lot. If there were Oscars for best daughters, they'd each get a golden statue.


  1. Alright, Dawn, you made me cry. Traditions are so important and they help us and soothe us even when they change over time. You so beautifully captured the Academy Awards when you were young; I can just picture it, with your mom and you and your sister with your bowl of chips and glass of pop and a big old TV in the background.
    If it were First Born, rather than Yoga Kid, who was the good baker, I might claim some of the credit but I am afraid I cannot with Yoga Kid. She just evolved, I guess, as a good baker.

    What warm memories. I don't have the Oscar tradition but I do hold on to some other traditions with my daughter, and they too make me think of my mother.

    Keep blogging and keep those traditions with the girls.
    Love Val

  2. "When do we stop missing our dead mothers" your title asked, to which I respond, "Or our very much alive mothers, who have disowned us." Thanks for the thoughtful piece...

    Another She Writer @

  3. The Oscar memories...or more specifically, YOUR Oscar memories made me cry. Knowing you were writing in memorial made the sweet memories you had with your mom even more impressive. What a great tradition to have with your daughters...I need to go find something like that.

  4. Agreed Dawn that traditions are so very important. And I agree (again) that between un-reality TV shows and social media tools anyone can have celebrity but not everyone is a star. Great post.

  5. I loved this post. I wrote one not too long ago about watching the last episode of "As The World Turns" because it was a show I remembered watching with my mother, who, like yours died way too young at 63. But, just like you, I am building new traditions with my daughters. (we blog together) However, I still miss my mom and she's been gone 30 years.

  6. Thanks, everybody. Meagan and Val, sorry to make you cry. Cathy - you are so right - motherless is devastating regardless of how or when it happens. And "Mom" of amazing daughters, love your blog - and loved your post about "As The World Turns." Yes, Knowledge Maven (Cynthia), we all seem to agree, traditions mean so much. I love all of your blogs! Well, except for Val's - because she hasn't got one yet. But she will. Climb aboard, Val. Blogging is wonderful.