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March Forth

March 12, 2013

My Mom & Kieth RichardsMy mom and Kieth Richards, circa 1990

My mom died on March 4th at home with her brothers.  I was on a train to Manhattan to catch a plane out to California, my sister Barbie was driving at top speed from Oregon, my brother Blaise was on a plane from Milwaukee, and my brother Blake was minutes away from their home.  None of us got there in time.  Somehow I think that is how she wanted it: on our way to be together, but not there with her.

She was a complicated person and certainly one of the toughest I’ll ever know.  I won’t write her remeemberance here.  Instead I’ll share a memory of one of my best memories I have of her.

My mom was a rigger and stagehand for 30 plus years.  The summer after I graduated high school she was touring with the Rolling Stones in Europe.  I met up with her and the tour in Rome while on a backpacking trip.  I got to hang out with the crew, see the show, and bask in the glory of a beautiful hotel room.  Bill Wyman flirted with me in the hotel bar.  I saw Ron Wood and his family at the pool.  I never saw Keith Richards, but I did see Mick Jagger sweaty from the stage, his face rubbery and tired looking.  It was fun being there, watching my mom build the huge sets and pull the rigs of giant inflatable women that danced above the stage during the song “Street Fighting Man.”

One night, after a show, my mom and I manned a makeshift bar that she had built for the crew under the stage.  It was a wild night.  There were people everywhere and the only drink we had the ingredients to make were screwdrivers.  I was 18 and didn’t drink.  I was also so not Rock n’ Roll, but I climbed into the wood booth with my mom and asked people how much vodka and how much orange juice.  It was a warm night in July and we were beneath the unlit stage.  The crowd got thicker and thicker.  Soon we were handing the drinks out hand over fist and she and I were laughing hilariously because of my incompetence, because of the rush, because it was fun.  She looked over at me and laughed and said, “Alright GIRL!”

She was proud of me in that moment.  That was part of the kind of mom she was.

Seeing her on that tour was the happiest I can remember her.  I asked her a couple of months ago if that was when she was happiest.  “Yeah,” she said through tears.  “That was probably it.”

She died on the only date that gives direction: march FORTH.  She was never one to hang back so it seems appropriate.

They broke the mold when they made you, Mama.

Bee Oliver, June 19 1944-March 4 2013

  1. Kathy permalink
    March 12, 2013 2:53 am

    Sorry for your loss, dear. I know it’s indescribably hard to lose a parent.

  2. Sivi ruder permalink
    March 12, 2013 2:59 am


    Sent from my iPhone

  3. Eva and David Jardin. permalink
    March 12, 2013 5:04 am

    Hello Summer:

    I have been wanting to contact you in the most recent days. My husband and I live in Aptos (Santa Cruz) California and we visited you one evening at the Ugly Mug. In fact we called your Mom on our cell phones from your gig. You were also your Mother’s date to our weding down in Monterey/Pacific Grove back in 2004. We are so saddened by Bea’s death….my hubby (with Stages Unlimited in Gilroy) especially. I’ve been waiting to see details on Bea’s Memorial so we can contribute. We are both on Facebook…..and we would love to hear from you.

  4. Jennifer Parsons permalink
    March 12, 2013 7:13 am

    Oh Summer, This is so right on. You did have a one of a kind mother. Thanks for this. Jenny

    Sent from my iPhone

  5. Hanne permalink
    March 12, 2013 9:16 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your wonderful memory of your mum, it brought tears and a smile. Take care! A big hug from Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

  6. March 12, 2013 12:12 pm

    Hi Summer. What a beautiful memory you’ve shared. Sending love to you and your family at this sad time. xx
    Thanks for the warmth you add to my day whenever I read one of your illustrated stories, I think you’re fab!

  7. Kim permalink
    March 12, 2013 1:27 pm

    I am so sorry, Summer. I’m glad you have some good memories of your mom – and that amazing photo. Wow. That’s all kinds of special.

  8. March 12, 2013 2:08 pm

    Sending you so much love. Let me know, as always, if you need anything.

  9. simone permalink
    March 12, 2013 4:46 pm

    What a great story and memory of your mom. Hugs to you…

  10. March 12, 2013 4:48 pm

    I saw the rolling stones twice in concert when I was in high school. I think you are a year or two older than I am so it seems about right. Also, one never forgets giant blow up dolls. I just may have been at the same place at the same time as your mom. I’m sorry that your mom is gone, but I am glad you got to spend time with her recently. Hugs (((Summer)))

  11. chepkirui permalink
    March 12, 2013 5:25 pm

    Summer I’m so so sorry. I remember feeling as if the earth had shifted when my father died. Thinking of you—-

  12. March 12, 2013 6:16 pm

    I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Grief places us in such a strange land.

  13. March 12, 2013 6:22 pm

    So sad to hear this news. I’ve been wondering over the last week or so how things were going… so while this is not a total surprise, I know how painful it must be. I’m so sorry.

  14. March 13, 2013 12:04 am

    Sending you love m’dear, and deep breaths!

  15. March 13, 2013 1:55 am

    I am very sorry to learn of your loss. Many blessings to you and your family.

  16. March 19, 2013 4:01 am

    Dear Summer, I’m so sorry for your loss. It looks and sounds like your mom had a very interesting life, as unique, interesting people often do. (And that photo – wow! So cool.) May your heart remember the good times, her best qualities, and the love between you…in my limited experience the rest tends to fall away once a loved one has passed. Sending you kind peaceful thoughts and virtual hugs!

  17. March 19, 2013 4:02 am

    Forgot to add, I love the “MARCH FORTH” thing. What a great perspective on it!

  18. Christina permalink
    March 22, 2013 5:38 pm

    I’ve been following your blog (from Brooklyn!) for a few years now and had to comment. My mother passed away on November 3 after a very surprising and heartbreakingly brief fight against ovarian cancer. I’m still working my way through the loss – my mind cannot really process it, I think. Losing your mother is just indescribable to anyone that has not gone through it, no matter what your relationship with her was like. Just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in this type of loss.

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