After I wrote that last post about our BHS’68 classmate Cathy Carlson, it suddenly hit me that Annie Laskowski, Cathy’s daughter, was just a toddler when her mother died. In fact, Annie wrote that she was only 14 months old when Cathy passed away in 1988 from lung cancer. “I have basically no memory of my mother, Cathy Carlson,” Annie said.
Cathy was only nineteen when she married in 1969, but waited ten years before giving birth to her son, Ryan, and then waited almost another ten years before she had Annie. She found out she was ill shortly after she gave birth to her daughter, who was told from the beginning that Cathy’s cancer was due to her smoking cigarettes.
What was it like to grow up without a mother, I asked? Cathy’s husband worked full time, and her parents, Mildred and Leroy Carlson, took care of the two children while he was at work. Annie said she had no single female “mother figure” to speak of, and her only female role models included her maternal grandmother, an aunt, her father’s good friend’s wife (called Auntie) and her father’s long-time girl friend. The family moved to Temecula in 1992.
Annie writes, “As anyone can imagine, growing up as a female without a mother, is extremely difficult but I feel like growing up with my father and brother made me tough. I learned at a VERY young age a lesson some people never learn—life is UNFAIR. I was taught that no one was going to “take it easy” on me because I was a girl, or that I grew up without a mother. The holidays are often a time of sadness for my family, especially my father, who re-married once since my mother’s death and has since divorced.”
When I shared the link for the Burbank High Class of 1968 blog with Annie, I noticed a number of her friends commented on how much she looked like her mother. In fact, Annie says, “I CONSTANTLY hear how much I look like, act like, or remind people of my mother. I take great pride in hearing this as I feel like somehow my mother lives on through me. I really enjoy hearing stories of how funny, warm, and loving she was. My grandparents would always slip and call me “Cathy” and I know my father is constantly reminded of her every time he sees my face. I often wished that she would somehow connect with me and “show me” that’s she is still around but I know deep down that she is with me always in spirit. Sometimes I get a warm feeling, see a beautiful sunset, see something that reminds me of her and I know she is with me always. I hope someday to have a daughter myself and be able to be the kind of amazing and warm mother I knew mine would have been.
So I thought our classmates would like to see a picture of Annie and see how closely she resembles her mother, Cathy Carlson. Annie also sent additional photos of Cathy which you can see below.
Annie has become a hair stylist and makeup artist, a passion she thinks she got from her mom, Cathy, who was always “tinting” her own mother’s hair. She remembers eating Danish Butter cookies in the blue tin at Christmas time, and says she always thinks of her mom and grandmother, who were Swedish-Norwegian.
Chris Cullen Bartlett said, “Cathy was such a beautiful person, inside and out!” and Laura Dermedy Unch wrote, “Cathy was awesome; we remained friends after school and after she was married. She had a great heart and soul — I miss her dearly.”
Can any other members of our Class of 1968 give us more remembrances of Cathy Carlson? Were you in class with her or do you have any stories to share with her daughter? We’d love to hear from you!