Did you call your mother “Mom” when you were little? I never did. On my block, where I grew up, each house had a different name for her. Matka. Mamaka. Mamma. Ma. Mutter. Depended on where they were from.
On our block in Queens, 25 two-story houses lined each side of the street, and the people who lived in them came from all over Europe. After World War II, New York was filled with “displaced persons,” as they were called, and immigrants. Our block was typical of a lot of New York, back then.
Decades later, I would read in the N. Y. Times that Jackson Heights, the neighborhood I lived in, was the single most diverse neighborhood in any city in the U.S. To us, it was just home. That’s how I got started learning lots of languages. Whenever I went to visit or play with a friend, I had to be civil to the parents or grandparents who let me in.
In that neighborhood, the terms “Mom” or “Dad” were pure Hollywood. The only time I ever heard those words was on “Leave it to Beaver” on TV, or in movies.
Whatever you used to call her — or still do, if you’re lucky — whether you are a mother, or have one, or had one you’d like to honor on this day, or hope to be one someday — I wish you a very
Happy Mother’s Day!