Who can shed more insight into someone than a mother? Here, in her own words, Dianne De Paul, Mary Beth Evans’ (Katherine, GH) real-life mother, shares some memories of her famous daughter:
Expressing my feelings about Mary Beth is not easy. So many antics…so many sentiments that are hard to verbalize. But life with her was never dull. And now Mary Beth is a stable, lovely woman, a wonderful homemaker, a devoted wife and an involved mother. So of course, I’m delighted to recall memories of her.
To encourage introspection, I settle down with a steaming cup of tea on a terrace overlooking the Pacific. The rising steam adds a surreal touch to the sunset, a perfect setting for reflection.
In this pleasant haze. I hear The Sound of Music. When Mary Beth broke her arm at age 2, I taught her to Whistle A Happy Tune whenever she felt afraid. The doctor must have thought us pretty strange; as he removed her cast with a pair of huge hedge clippers, we whistled. It worked, and it became our anthem in the years that followed.
I add a little water to my tea. The melody changes, and I hear How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, about that “will of a wisp, a clown.” I thought those same thoughts about my daughter. Before she was even 2, whenever she napped she’d wrap a kerchief around her face and lie so she got wrinkles on her face. She felt I would think she hadn’t taken a nap if she had no “sleep wrinkles.” She was a funny kid.
At 2 ½ , she knocked out her front tooth playing with her sisters, and we whistled some more. Six months later, she took a flying leap off her rocking horse into the edge of the coffee table and put a two-inch gash over her eyebrow. It was time to Whistle A Happy Tune again. Three weeks later, returning after an evening out, I found her bloody pajamas soaking in the kitchen sink after another bout with the rocking horse. A two-inch gash over the other eyebrow. The horse was put out to pasture.
Our children had been taught not to go past the property line, but one day I couldn’t fine Mary Beth. I walked up to the road, and there she was, so tiny, with that snow-white hair and those huge blue eyes and those lips. She was wearing her brother Rick’s shoes, one sister’s plaid pants and another sister’s dress over that. She had a sweater over one arm and was wearing a “suitcase” – an empty, un-rinsed half-gallon chocolate ice-cream carton – on her other hand like a muff while the chocolate melted and ran down her arm. She said, “I’m going on a ‘venture, mom.” This was about when I started to hear Climb Every Mountain.
But the young, devil-may-care Mary Beth developed into the fun-loving, caring woman who has made me such a proud mama. When she was in high school, she played a prostitute in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. She had her long hair cut and permed for the part, and when she climbed in through the asylum window dressed like Carmen Miranda and toting a jug of wine, popping gum and talking sassy, I didn’t know her. Later, she had a lead in the play Dead End. She completely overwhelmed me. She made me cry. I wasn’t just proud of her as my daughter, I was proud of her because I saw her as a fine actress.
When she was little, Mary Beth floated shoes in the toilet, broke bones, bruised her knees. There were times when I thought that if she had been my first child I would never have had another. But one day I decided that Mary Beth could float all the shoes and put all the handprints on the wall that she wanted. It didn’t matter anymore. She was always so happy, so I let go and let her be herself.
When you can see certain kinds of moral and ethical behavior in your children, listen to them, watch their actions and realize you have managed to teach them what’s important, it’s a happy moment. Mary Beth overwhelms me with her tenaciousness, her persistence and her determination. She has a strong sense of self, and she’s one of the most likable human beings I’ve ever known; she doesn’t have bad thoughts about anybody. She was a bright ray of sunshine in my life and she still is. –Dianne De Paul
Mary Beth’s THOUGHTS: “Growing up, I had big lips that were always chapped and always bright red. With a totally albino face and albino hair, I looked like an alien and was called every name in the book. I can’t repeat most of them; they were terrible. So I was always a daydreamer. I had a big imagination. My best friend says the first time she ever saw me in high school I was standing backstage at West Side Story wearing a surgeon’s shirt with overalls over it, big blue fluffy slippers and a tophat. She introduced herself because she thought I was such an interesting, odd person, but that was just the way I did things. I’m still like that. I’ll wear my big blue galoshes when it’s not raining, because I like them. I don’t have any rules, I guess. I think my family was surprised when I married the first person I fell madly in love with and that I’m still married. I think it amazes them that I’m successful, because I was never in the category of Most Likely to Succeed. I live totally in the moment; I have no foresight or hindsight whatsoever. I teach my kids to be positive. I say, “Look at this day! Is this the most beautiful day you have ever seen?” I teach my children to appreciate each moment. That’s the most important thing I can give them.” – Rosemary Rosssi