Celebrating the life of Ellyn Romano

Today marks the one year anniversary of the passing of Burlock Principal, Nicole Ashey's mother. Burlock, Ellyn's maiden name, represents all the eccentric, Jewish women who have shaped Nicole's life and provided creative inspiration. Of course, with her mother having the most profound impact out of all of them.  In her memory, we are posting this tribute to Ellyn Romano (written by Nicole), to celebrate the incredibly passionate, inspirational and lively woman she was.

The Top Ten Lessons I Learned From My Burlock Mom

She took on the name Mother Nature as to not offend the biological grandmother of her step-grandkids. We have a lot of second marriages in my family and it seems that anyone under the age of thirty took to the nickname she gave herself without even questioning it. This little story, is an illustration of the charm, character and care-free attitude my mother had. There are many stories that go along with having her as my mother, some more embarrassing than others, but I thought it would be best to share some lessons that this one-of-a-kind person passed down to me.

1. Your Purse is the most important accessory you could ever have.8527854

1. Your Purse is the most important accessory you could ever have.
My mom believed in a good bag. In fact, when she sized up my new Donna Karan from her hospital bed, she nodded in approval. Some of the last few words she said to me were, "nice bag!" My mom carried a Louis Vuitton in the Fashion District of NYC and all her friends were aghast at the plastic she was adorning herself with. They thought she had really lost her fashion sense until the bag exploded on runways. So here are the rules: Unless it's Louis Vuitton, you should only carry leather. Also, your purse isn't just a purse. You may also use it for thirty pounds of unused change and as a filing location for every receipt you'll never want to see again.

2. Never give up. 6471594

My mom was the most persistent, willful person I have ever met. The doctors had a hard time knocking her out during my C-section delivery. If you want something bad enough, you can will yourself there. Even if there's an obstacle (or heavy sedation) in your way, be resourceful. There's a way around it.  Keep fighting for what you want.

3. Be true to yourself.
Even if that means being loud, boisterous and causing people to look at you like you're from outer space.  If you're sweet and lovable, they will likely want to hug you when they lose "the deer in the headlights" look. If not, at least you will have provided some entertainment.

1047376_orig4. You're never too old to be a princess.
It went without clinical diagnosis, but I'm sure my mom had OCD and anxiety which only added to the level of crazy that already existed. She couldn't take my dad's driving, so she sat in the back seat. Until the day she died, my dad "drove Ms. Daisy." Also, whenever we had to attend a social gathering, he would have to run back to the house, often more than once, to make sure the cigarettes were out, the iron was off and the hair dryer was unplugged. I guess the lesson here is you don't get what you don't ask for.

1722109_orig5. Eat and cook like an Italian.

When my mom worked for 1-800-Flowers a college kid thought he had Fran Drescher on the phone. He had her on speaker and grabbed his fraternity brothers to listen in. She might as well have had "Brooklyn Jew" tattooed on her forehead, but when she married my dad, she converted over to Italian. She put her heart and soul into whatever dish she made. Enjoy your food. It's sacred.

6. Language is mutable.
Until age 25 I thought you could "go to hell in a handbag." Then I was corrected, but preferred Gucci over woven straw. Say things the way you want to say them.

7. All Cute Butts Should Be Pinched9176090_orig
And if you love the person attached to it, you should pinch it even harder.

8. Love the Living
Kiss llamas. Talk to goats. Give your dog a thousand nicknames so you can sing to them everyday. And don't ever, ever kill a bug. Have your husband remove them safely from your home. See #4.

9. It Doesn't Take Long to Impact Someone's Life
Generosity and compassion go a long way. Ask people how they are. Listen to them without judgment and be loving in your feedback. You'll be amazed at the ripple effect. My mom did far more than this. When she moved from Long Island to the Hudson Valley, she became part of something. She made food for sick friends and was actively involved in fundraisers for her local library. My mom lived in her tiny hamlet of Staatsburg, NY for 7 years. The amount of people who showed up at her funeral was mind-blowing. They were either thankful for her existence, sad for the loss their community suffered or both.

10. Blaze Your Trail
Follow your heart, be yourself, sport a plastic purse. Do your own thing, and a lot more people will remember you. Have generosity of spirit and you will make more of an impact on this world than you ever imagined.

2127818_origIf you're interested in reading an amazing eulogy about the love of mother's, click here.

It was written by my close friend Ethan. He only met my mom a few times, and knew me about a year, but he truly captured the essence of our relationship. I am endlessly thankful for that.