When people find out that my mom is Marion Ross, the actress who played Richie Cunningham’s mom on TV’s Happy Days, they usually say the same one or two things; “I love your mom” and “Was she like Mrs. C?”

Actually, mom was not really like Mrs. C, but real people are seldom as uncomplicated and one-dimensional as television sitcom characters. Since she was a working actress and a single mom most of my childhood, she wasn’t ever the kind of home-bound housewife that Mrs. C was; she was out auditioning, doing plays and guest star roles in episodic television and movies.

Often the dinner would be left for my sister Ellen and I on the stove or in the fridge, or she would arrange for Mrs. Adams up the street to feed us with her kids. I also recall vividly that mom would open up a can of Del Monte string beans for us to eat cold out of the can, a species of antipasti, I suppose, that I grew to love.

But mom worked hard to provide a “normal” upbringing for Ellen and me, in what must have been challenging circumstances.
The best thing about her, though, the thing I will always appreciate the most, was her instilling in me a love of art and a belief that artistic expression is important. She always allowed me to indulge my interests in painting and drawing even if that meant I stayed up late on a school night, or made a big mess with my brushes and supplies on the kitchen counter top.

I have come to realize that the acknowledgement and encouragement for a child’s interests is a valuable part of the love parents have to give, and if omitted, can lead a child away from their true path.

I thank my lucky stars that mom was so validating and kind to me that way; it has made an enormous difference.

You can read more about the career and life of my wonderful mom, Marion Ross, in her autobiography, My Days, Happy and Otherwise, available March 27th from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, audible.com and wherever books and audio books are sold.

If you are looking for a gift for your mom for Mother’s Day, this might be just the thing.

Thanks for reading this,

Jim Meskimen