Remembering Shirley Bookey, 1926-2011

MOm1934 1962 1964 1976

While Mom had her share of frustrations and problems, she was always good when it came to the big issues in our lives, and was always behind us 100 percent. She also had her own odd sense of humor, and her bluntness was often quite funny. Even in the Sand Point Center, if something made a loud noise, she would exclaim, "What the hell was that!?" When we visited her on New Year's Day, I told her it was 2011, and she said, "2011? That's CRAZY." It was hard not to laugh at these moments. When she wasn't communicating on Mothers' Day, a male nurse with a loud voice boomed, "Shirley, your son is here. Why aren't you talking to him?" and she replied, "I had nothing to say!"

Mom turned 85 last week and was much more communicative on her birthday, before having this final downturn. Mom and her sister Millie were both very aware of how many years longer their lives were than their own parents', who died years ago in their mid-sixties. When Mom hit her 80th birthday, she was very happy to go around and tell everyone that she was 80. Years ago, if we asked her her age, she would say, "104" or "29 plus."

As many of you know, Mom was a graduate from the first class of what was to become FIT, back in 1946. She was very creative and beyond working for some well-known designers and having her own label, Shirley Williams, she also painted, scultpted, made things in plexiglas and macrame, and always liked beautiful things.

Mom also had a very fine sense of right and wrong and always hated seeing any kind of injustice, and spoke very plainly. If something horrible happened in the world somewhere, she would say, "Did you see what those bastards did?" She inherited much of this from her parents, who were immigrants from Tsarist Russia, and who suffered many indignities and abuses before having the freedom in America to pursue their religion or their politics as they saw fit.

Mom was also a very good friend and was always there for them when she was needed. She also missed them a lot, even decades after they had died.