Mom's Light



Scene 1: A Diamond


In the pageantry of life, guys finding clever ways to “get the girl” is a time-honored tradition. Because of my dad’s pursuit, I am here!


It all started in Durham, NC, 1964. She (Catherine Lane at the time) was on a date with another couple at the Martha and the Vandellas concert. By the time they arrived midway through the show, the only option for seating was the front row floor, which was covered in “party crud.”


That would not do for Ms. Lane. 


The “little round guy” (as she described Dad) with a bottle of bourbon in his hand said, “You ladies can sit right here I’ve got a knee for each one of you!” Sitting in the front row, he offered his lap for the gals. My parents were engaged a year later.


Dad knew she was a “gem”: great hair, blue eyes, flawless figure, 21, math major, Pi Phi, stylish, tons of fun. Plus, what’s inside really sparkled!


With Mother’s Day around the corner, I’ve been thinking what makes her the “Rock” (one of her nicknames along with Queen Hair, Cat, and Mate).




Ocean Isle Beach 

Ocean Isle Beach 



At 5 years old, I was curious and in the middle of assembling a drip sandcastle when I asked “Where do babies come from?” I wasn’t going to let Mom off the hook, who was working on her olive tan, reclined in a folding chair with her nose in a Vogue Magazine.


Her answer was honest, as was my follow up reply, “EW!”


At this bonding moment, I knew my mother was trustworthy and I could count on her. There was a sense of openness in our family. She established a bar early on that we were to be honest and could talk to her (and Dad) about anything. At the time I had little appreciation for this standard.


Today it means everything.  Who are you without your word?




In fact, Cat’s superlative in high school was “most dependable.”


Our family relied on her. She kept everything in order. Her life revolved around trying to be the perfect wife, mother, teacher, home maker.


Mom did it all AND got her Captain’s license in 1991. Despite being the Rock, things weren’t easy.  My dad was busy as an “up and coming” trial attorney. She’d quit her job teaching algebra to raise my brother and me; she needed something else to sink her teeth into.


Capt. Diehl had an apron that said "I'd Rather Sail than Cook"-she loves both!

Capt. Diehl had an apron that said "I'd Rather Sail than Cook"-she loves both!

A born critic and influenced by my grandmother, she knew that the way to her salvation was through cooking. She studied Julia Child and fell in love with the craft.


Time in the kitchen was therapeutic. Her temperamental husband/children became a distant memory when focused (like a chemist) on the height of a flaky soufflé.


Every meal at our table growing up was special whether it was her famous country style steak, or lasagna with bechamel sauce.  One of my favorites was/is chicken piccata with angel hair pesto. The rich flavor of the sautéed crispy cutlets in lemon wine sauce mixed with the garlic basil pesto is mouth-watering salty-sweet.


Mom is happiest in the “galley” sipping on a burgundy and entertaining.  Many can attest to being under her trance until the wee hours of the morning. 


Happy in the Kitchen entertaining

Happy in the Kitchen entertaining




After 40 years of marriage she and my dad divorced. Mom had to reinvent herself. It took her years before she could sing in the car again.


But sing and shine she did. She found peace in the magical lowcountry surrounding herself with beauty, good friends and family. She found another love who adored her and shared her passion for hosting dinner parties. He sadly passed after 6 years together. And she is renewing again.


She says, “You just don’t give up.” Having witnessed her dad not just survive but thrive after a debilitating stroke when he was 40, her persevering nature is inherent.


Conclusion: As Bright as She Can Be


Truth is, we are constantly reinventing ourselves!  The girl in the front row needs no lap to sit on at this point.  Through her experience, she blossomed into a timeless sage with a deep appreciation for the here and now. While positioned like a mountain, Mom illuminates like a lighthouse across a darkened sky.


Over burgers at our favorite beach bar she said recently, I want this moment to be as bright as it can be. 


And it is. 


Her mantra has remained: honesty, steadfastness, resilience, be in the moment. Don’t rush, don’t settle, do your best…SHINE. Adopt these qualities and you will dazzle too!


My questions these days are more G-rated than the child on the beach…from recipes to shoes to health, she always has an answer. 


I answer my own questions too.  I instinctively know which way to go because her light radiates in me. Nevertheless I am grateful for the second opinion (occasionally unsolicited, she is a mother after all).


Her strength is my strength.


Thank you and Happy Mother’s Day Mom! I am patiently waiting to see what’s on the menu for the Third Act. Keep rockin’ and KEEP COOKING!


Read about our mother/daughter adventures in my essays here…more to come!


Kindred Spirits

Kindred Spirits