Today, my mother lost her battle with cancer. As I reflect on her life, I wanted to share some insight as it specifically relates to the rock band KISS.
Ever since I moved away from home, I always enjoyed the fact that when I returned to visit my family, I was always reminded of my favorite childhood memories because throughout the house were constant reminders of my discovery of KISS and the 10+ years I grew up with them in our house. Some of the items that have remained in that house to this day are stickers from the Rock and Roll Over album on the 2 bedroom doors I had & the original Dressed to Kill album that my parents bought for me for Christmas in 1975 which has sat above a family portrait in the living room for 34 years now.
I’ve not lived in that house for over 30 years yet my parents never once asked me to take down the album or remove the stickers on the doors, or any other KISS-remnants that are still strewn about. What I realized today is just how much my parents always knew KISS was a huge part of my life and completely supported it. I truly believe they looked at it like KISS was an integral part of my growing up and for as long as KISS was going to be in my life, they were going to be sure I still felt at home when I came to visit.
I remember several years of Jr. High and High School where I would draw the KISS faces on my sneakers in class instead of paying attention to the teachers. When I came home after the very first time I had done this, my mom noticed my shoes and said “you did a great job on the faces”. I knew she was aware I had to have done it during classes, but she supported me anyway. I wish I still had some of those shoes. Growing up with mom and with KISS was special indeed.
One of the stories my mom always reminded of when I came home was the summer my younger brother and I decided to make cardboard guitars out of old boxes, cover them in tin foil, put on the best KISS-type costumes we could come up with, go in the front yard, crank up the boombox and do our best air-guitars to KISS Alive II. My mom loved our performances and so did the neighbors. In fact, 15 years later, I walked into the post office to send a package and the the clerk asked me if I still dressed up like KISS. As it turns out, he was our mailman during the time of our performances and said he always looked forward to see us trying to be like KISS. When I told mom what he said, she told me he once knocked on the door to ask if were were going to be playing that day. Turned out he tried to time his route to catch us. I know we sucked, but we gave it our best shot and had fun doing it – and that was what it was all about.
30+ years after discovering KISS, I had the pleasure of meet Gene Simmons and I couldn’t wait to tell my mom about it. I knew she was going to be so happy for me because she knew how much it meant to me. When I did tell her, it was like she had met him as well. She, in a sense, grew up with KISS as well but probably didn’t even realize it. She supported my admiration for KISS so much that while allowing me to be entertained with the records and videos, she was also tuning in. That is one hell of a mother-son bonding experience.
With both of my parents gone now, and none of the kids living in town, I’ll likely never come back to this house again. The memories will now be truly just memories. But not just any old memories, for my mother can be described as KISS is described – the best!
Thank you for all you did mom. For the life you gave me, for the lessons you taught me, for the love you gave me and for the patience you showed me. I will always be grateful you bought me my first KISS album and allowed me to make our house the KISS house.