How can I possibly convey what the Mountain Mamas have meant to me over the past 45 years? We met when we were new moms. Four of us were transplants from the East Coast and three were born and bred Californians. Wendy and I had known each other since junior high and now were raising our kids together in Lafayette, CA. Jeane and I had gone to college together at Mt. Holyoke, though we didn’t really get acquainted until we both ended up living in Lafayette. Pauli and her husband, Sandy, moved to Lafayette about the same time we did. They lived next door to Barbara and around the corner from Celie, who had grown up in Lafayette. Barbara and Maral had gone to Cal together. Pauli, Celie, and I met in the Oakland Junior League, but all three of us quit shortly thereafter. We were always very grateful to the Junior League for introducing us!
I like to think I was the catalyst for bringing this group together. At first, we met to play tennis and socialize, sometimes with our toddlers, and sometimes with our husbands. Then, one day in 1973, Celie asked Pauli and I if we would like to go backpacking in the Sierras with her sister, Aline, and her niece, Trisha. That trip to Saddlebag Lake is the subject for a whole other episode. Anyway, after a very successful initial adventure, we decided to ask Barbara, Maral, Wendy and Jeane how they would like to give this a try. That was the beginning of a relationship, which is way beyond special. We would take off for a week every summer, leaving our growing families with husbands and grandparents and head to the mountains. Our talented log writer, Jeane, beautifully documented all the trips we took. The tales of our travels consume 250 pages.
What we have meant to each other in terms of love and support through life’s ups and downs is mind-boggling. We have shared sickness and health, marriage and divorce, the weddings of kids, and, in my case, a second chance … John and I were married in Celie’s beautiful backyard. We celebrated the births of grandkids. We mourned the deaths, first of parents, then a spouse, and sadly, last year, of our dear Maral. At Maral’s memorial service, the Mamas were asked to speak. Jeane, our wonderful wordsmith, did the honors surrounded by the rest of us. When she was done, she said, “When we were on the trail, we would gather each night around the campfire and sing songs before trundling off to our sleeping bags. When we were all tucked in, we would sing Taps.” The remaining six of us then sang Taps to a congregation of well over 100. I don’t believe there was a dry eye including ours.