Monday, January 24, 2011


Maybe it is hitting the half-century mark, maybe it is being single again after so many years, maybe it is reconnecting with old friends through Facebook. Maybe it is looking at my daughter Alix, and feeling a connection with her and her friends; seeing them begin their lives of independence.

Over the past year, I've felt a desire to look back at the women in my life-those women who formed me, who shaped the mentality that became "Elizabeth".

Helen Badt is one of the great women in my life.

Way back in high school, when my friend Nancy and I started hanging out together, I naturally got to meet her parents, Helen and Joe. Within weeks, I was referring to them as “Mamma and Daddy Badt” and I continue to do so today.

I close my eyes, and the first image that comes to mind is -- salad dressing. I kid you not. Vinagrette. Made from scratch. The only salad dressing I had seen was in a bottle. Hers was mixed up with a fork in an everyday water glass. Oil, red wine vinegar, a pinch of this and a pinch of that. Any left over was put in the refrigerator. I can see it sitting there, as if it were yesterday.

Flank Steak. We never had flank steak at my house. It was something different…and I loved it.

Erma Bombeck columns posted on the refrigerator. Especially the one that has the quote “But most of all, I loved you enough to say NO when you hated me for it. That was the hardest part of all” . Didn’t believe it then. Totally understand it now.

Home-cooked Prom dinners served using the best china and crystal. With Joe in his tux acting as waiter. Treating us like the grown-ups we THOUGHT we were.

Always immaculately dressed. Her face always “on”. Care and attention to detail.

Amazing needlepoint. Her sense of space and form were miles ahead of everyone else.

Watching her at the sewing machine. Her perfectionism . Patience. Fiddling to get it right.

Feeling loved.

Once I became a parent, I understood that it takes a village to raise a child. I realized how blessed I was growing up with so many of my mother’s friends who acted as role models for me.

Helen really was like a second mother. In so many ways, her life experiences were different from my mother’s, so knowing her gave my life a depth, a richness, that only now I am able to begin to understand and appreciate.

She was-and is-and will always be- a blessing in my life.