Born as an only child, in a small Heidi like village called Shuen Ecken, in the Eiffel mountains of Germany, my mother Maria Herzig Crane inherited the strength and spirit to survive the war. Momma Mia was strong willed and unyielding in her determination to live according to her beliefs. Her real beauty shined as she remained true to herself. She never followed the latest fashion for she was a trend setter in that regard. She had a confident presence that persuaded many to rise above any labels ascribed. My dad was from Little Rock, Arkansas and he proudly brought his German bride home from the war to his family. Coming from a small German farming community, it was difficult for Mom to adjust to her new life in California. She adapted to her new country, the foreign tongue and her in-laws. Mom was never completely accepted by my dad’s family. There was a general sour feeling about German people, and my mom was met as a trespasser on American soil. My mother was hungry for acceptance and love and she did her best to live as a conventional, acceptable wife and mother. She was not a cook, nor did she play bridge or indulge in any hobbies until after she was 60 years old. She did not tolerate whining or complaining, for her it was about working and getting the task at hand completed. As a child we were never given a chance to be bored as she assigned all of her tribe responsibilities. Our chores and our homework had to be finished before we could go outside to play. I learned that my Mother was not allowed to cry as a child, and that she was hidden behind the counter of the family coffee shop. She had silky blue eyes that perceived the world as she would have it. Her hair was thin and her mind was sharp. Mom was a voracious reader and never blase about anything. She loved a good mystery and her thirsty mind soaked up books on a vast array of subjects. She loved the Vienna waltz and composers that never produced a shrill sound. Being the youngest of three children I believe that I grew to know her more deeply than my siblings. We were neighbors in the Napa Valley and our visits were frequent. Mom moved back to Germany in 1975 and in 1979 I traveled to meet her new groom James Crane. After many hours of persuasion, Mom relented and took me to visit Shuen Ecken. Enjoying coffee and cake with Lily (a neighbor who took care of grandma Barbara Herzig) they joyfully reminisced in German, and I inspected the grounds outside to find a memento. I pulled a rusted lock from the decrepit, abandoned, out-of-service wooden outhouse. Mom was a painter of all things odd, and a collector of post-cards. My sister and I spread Mom’s ashes near Bell Rock in Arizona. We said our FINAL good-byes just before Mother’s day 2016.
Wearing Momma Mia’s rings on Mothers Day 2017.
Momma was a globe trotting artist, an activist, a writer, a seeker of truth, a legal German immigrant who survived war. I marvel at mom’s determined spirit and I thank God that He chose her to be my mother. Love never departs, Love never dies, Love prevails.
I love you Momma RIP.