My mom, Mary Ann Ahearn, is a dynamo. I feel so lucky that she is still so sharp, healthy, and lives a relatively short drive away from me. For Mother's Day I asked her some of the same questions that have been posed to me from Field + Supply, Aspire Design and Home, and others, and I added some of my own. I learned a few things that I didn't know previously. So glad that I asked her these questions!
Here is the Q + A:
Best advice you’d give your teenage self?
I would say to myself you need a better answer when your parents are sitting up, waiting for you to return at 2:30 in the morning than “I just lost track of the time”.
What’s the last book you read?
This is Happiness, by Niall Williams (Irish writer). A book recommended by Jonathon Blunk, the author of the life of the poet James Wright. Here’s what The Washington Post says about it:
“If you’re craving a novel with delicate wit, laced with rare insight, this, truly, is happiness.”
What is your favorite book?
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin. I’ve also read Gabrielle Zevin’s latest book: Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, which I liked very much, and am looking forward to her next book.
What book do you think is essential for every man to read to understand the nature of women?
Every man should read Anna Karenina, for whatever good it does.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
What are you most proud of?
When I was a volunteer for ARC* many years ago I was in a position to make an important decision that affected the lives of intellectually disabled people. At that time, they were institutionalized or kept at home, and it was felt by myself and others that they needed to get out into the world, and have job opportunities available to them.
Favorite quote or words to live by?
The translation of this is “Not to be served, but to serve”.
What are you most thankful for?
What’s your favorite movie?
Indiscreet, with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman
What is your perfect day?
When my children come to visit me.
When a lawn is freshly mown.
There are so many artists that are really wonderful, but Picasso comes to mind first because of a family trip we took many years ago to Spain, where I saw his early work.
My favorite was the first opera that I saw -- Tosca, which I was invited to by my friend at the time, Jim Ahearn. We were just teenagers. He knew I liked music, his father had given him 2 tickets, and it was the final performance of the late great soprano Lily Pons.
Favorite organizations to support?
Charitable organizations, Channel 13, WQXR, The Met Opera, and my favorite local organization TSL (Time Space Limited) run by two amazing women who are celebrating their 50th anniversary year of business.
Which of the homes that you’ve lived in is your favorite, and why?
My favorite house is the old Victorian on Spring Avenue in Ridgewood, NJ. My children grew up there, and there were all sorts of wonderful niches where you could play hide and seek. It had a great wrap-around front porch, where we spent a lot of time hanging out with family and friends.
Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?
Elizabeth Taylor. Your father, as the Editor of the Opinion Page of the Bergen Record, was invited to many events, which included going to a reception at the White House, which was attended by Senator Warner and his wife at the time, Elizabeth Taylor. She was extremely gracious and indeed did have violet eyes.
Used to be Thanksgiving when the family was all able to get together.
If you could have a superpower what would it be?
To have some control over the internet instead of being a technologically disadvantaged person.
I have so many, but my favorite, favorite is my 50th anniversary trip to Venice that I took with your father. We loved the Biennale and all the other wonderful things that Venice had to offer.
*ARC was an acronym at the time for the Association for Retarded Citizens of the United States (ARC).)
Here are some photos that I love of my mom...
How chic is her top! It's what I want to wear now. Will confirm, but I think there is a 98% chance that she made this herself.
Love this photo of my parents on their wedding day.
My Mom and I having a great moment last year, finally getting a chance to relax (2022).