Thoughts from the Publisher | Oct. 5, 2018

Mom with three of her pilot buddies in the early 1940s.

Mom with three of her pilot buddies in the early 1940s.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Back in 2014, I used my column to congratulate my mother on her 95th birthday.
It is now four years later, and I am thrilled to announce that, this past Wednesday, Mom hit 99!

I am writing this article on her actual birthday. Before starting my typing, I checked out what I wrote about for her 95th birthday. Looking through that column, I realized that not much has changed. With that being the case, I am sharing the same information with you– just a little updated.

This week, our family celebrated my mother, Marjorie Gromme’s, 99th birthday. With a recipe for a long life that has included a dash of clean living, a pound of wit, a pinch of luck (along with great genes and a brilliant oncologist (Dr. Robert Nagourney)), my mother has proven to have had all the necessary ingredients for a rather lengthy and fulfilling life.

Starting off in the midwest as a farm girl, she later worked as a real Rosie the Riveter during the war, had a career doing social work for Los Angeles County, married and was widowed four times, served in the mid-‘70s as Signal Hill City Treasurer, was named Signal Hill’s Outstanding Older American in 1994 and has been a member of the Susan B. Anthony Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution for more than 50 years. This year, she was honored on May 20 by the NAACP as one of its 2018 Amazing Women.

As her one and only child, I have been extremely fortunate to have a Mom whom I admire and consider to be my best friend. Although one day I will probably regret the opportunity to reminisce with the siblings I may have had, I have been quite content during my more than 60 years to have had Mom pretty much to myself and, fortunately over the last 30 years, with my hubby Steve, whom by the way, she says she loves just as much as if she’d “borned him.”

My wonderful step-brothers, Jay and Michael Gromme’, and their spouses/kids/grandkids have also been a constant in our lives, as has Steve’s brother Robert.

My mom has always been my confidant and best critic/audience. As we have grown older, I have done my best to be there for her, as well. We have grown closer emotionally, especially over the last 20 years, and I find that my favorite part of any day is the time we spend either together or chatting on the phone. Four to five times a week, we spend a minimum of an hour burning up the phone lines. How in the world we find so much to talk about is mind-boggling.

Mother in May at the NAACP affair with honorees Doris Topsy-Elvord (center) and Sharon McLucas.

We do a lot of sharing information about our daily routines. I tell her news of Steve’s latest adventures or antics and keep her apprised of what’s new and exciting at the paper. She fills me in on what book she recently read or the latest happenings at her home and headquarters, Bixby Knolls Towers. We also discuss where we should go the next time we get together or where we can dine that includes gluten-free options. Having celiac disease is no fun, but having someone to share it with makes it bearable.

Mom and I share more than just celiac disease; we are both natural blondes, love to see men in uniform (her preference is pilots and mine is police officers), are plus-sized (although I wasn’t more than a size 12 until I hit age 45) and can both say more with a raised eyebrow and a naughty smile than most people could say with a thousand words. I am proud to say that I love to hear people tell me, and they often do, “You are just like your mother!”

With today being the celebration of Mom’s completion of 99 years on this planet, I do want to reflect and remember the fact that we nearly lost Mom at age 88 when she was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. Thanks to the work of local scientist/oncologist Dr. Robert Nagourney, she has been cancer-free now for more than 11 years. We still can’t believe that such a miracle took place, but it certainly did. We owe Dr. Nagourney and our Heavenly Father our eternal gratefulness.

As I have told folks many times, having Mom look at me over the top of her tri-focals still makes me a bit nervous, as that is her signal to me of her silent disapproval, or at least of her pretending to be unhappy with me. Fortunately for me, I can still get a rise out of her, and I have to admit, sometimes, I do it purposely. Why? Let’s just say I still like to get attention from my mom– good or bad!

For Mom’s birthday 15 years ago, I wrote a short poem and placed it, and a cute drawing of a mother/daughter, on a mouse pad for her to keep by her computer. The sentiment still remains… Happy birthday, Mommy! I love you MOST!

As I get older and begin to gauge

how I appear at middle age.

It seems to me, I’m my mother’s child

we’re both even-tempered, not easily riled.

One thing stands out, and is quite clear,

we sure look alike when viewed from the rear

By Neena Posner Strichart/2003