Laurie Marino was a huge fan of her younger brother Mark Domico when he played basketball. She and her father, Tony, never missed a St. Dennis game, and they were nothing if not committed to the team.
Laurie was, in fact, so committed, that when Mark was in sixth grade she “got a little emotionally involved” in the tournament she was at. Laurie’s cheering and correcting the referee led to her eviction from the game, but also an honorary trophy from the team after they won the tournament.
“It was nice to have support,” Mark said.
She’s my mother. She puts her whole self into everything she does, and she is the best mother I could have been blessed with. My mother turns 50 years old today, and I can only imagine what she’ll be doing with her next 50 years.
Her parents said she used to hide under the kitchen table and watch the TV in the other room instead of sleeping.
“She never could sleep,” her father said. “She still doesn’t.”
I now know why she doesn’t; she never stops working, never stops doing one more thing for her family.
“Your mom shares everything,” my grandma told me.
Not only is she generous, but she is also considerate. My grandma said that when she goes shopping, she buys exactly what you want, even if you didn’t know you wanted it.
“There’s nothing bad we could say about your mother…she’d help anybody,” my grandpa said.
Donna Hann, Laurie’s older sister, said Laurie was always a social butterfly. She knew everybody in the group wherever they went.
When she would go to the neighborhood bar, J.D. Salooney’s, with Laurie and her then “just friend” Bill Marino, Donna said her core muscles got a workout.
In the midst of his “silly streak” as Donna called it, Bill would show off his prowess as a performer and mouth the lyrics to songs drifting out of the jukebox with Celine Dion-eque intensity while standing right behind Laurie.
If you knew Bill, she said, you knew this was highly irregular behavior, and the sight of it caused her to laugh hysterically. Laurie, picking up on the laughter would turn around to see what had happened.
“[Bill], naturally, would assume the somber expression of a judge just as she turned, and she could never catch his histrionics,” Donna wrote in a letter.
Hopefully, this memory will clear up some confusion for Laurie about times at J.D.’s which Donna said she very much liked.
“And she would go back to her conversations, he would go back to his musical silliness and I would go back to laughing every single time.”
On August 28, 1991, Bill Marino took then Laurie Domico to Buckingham Fountain.
He said it was one of their favorite places to go, along with fireworks shows at Navy Pier and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
“I remember being excited and very nervous, and I was looking forward to the future,” Bill said.
After walking around the fountain, Bill started to head back to the car, and Laurie assumed the trip was over.
She was wrong.
As they walked through the rose garden, Bill got down on one knee and made a proposal that would changes Laurie’s life.
Yes, she would marry him.
“And at that time I know she was the happiest I’d ever seen her in my entire life,” he said.
Bill said he did it because he had found somebody loyal, caring, kind and understanding in Laurie, somebody that accepted him for who he was.
“She was beautiful inside and out and she understood what loyalty was all about. That’s everything in a nutshell.”
Bill was reluctant to tell a story at first, saying he didn’t have the words. I think he said it all right here.
“I don’t always agree with her, but I know this. I know her intentions are good.”
“I think she puts all of us first.”
“She’ll be there til the end for me. I know that for a fact.”
When Jillian, Laurie’s youngest daughter, was little, she would go with Laurie downtown to work in Chicago.
“We would take the train down and it was always crazy exciting for me,” Jillian said.
Though she couldn’t always convince her mother to ride on the top row of seats, she was sure she was in for an adventure.
Jillian and her mom would tell stories and play games on the train.
Once they were downtown, they would take what Jillian called a “very long walk”
(the same mile Laurie walked to work every day) from the train station to Laurie’s building and up 20 floors to her office.
Inside, they would say hello to her office co-workers and Jillian would proceed to bother her mother endlessly, wanting attention and somebody to play with. As far as Jillian was concerned, the fun did not need to end on the train.
When she was older, Jillian would sometimes get put to work, organizing files or something of that sort. When she finished, she said she was always filled with pride that she could help her mom at work.
After a few hours at work, Jillian said they would take a break for lunch. One of her favorite places to go was the Rainforest Cafe.
“We would take pictures every single time with all the loud animals,” Jillian said.
Their favorite seats were by the fish tanks, where Jillian would make it a point to name all the fish.
After lunch, Jillian and Laurie would go back to work where Laurie, sensing Jillian was about done for the day, would try as hard as she could to finish up and take Jillian home.
“These are the best times because we were just simply enjoying each other’s company,” Jillian said.
I have been writing this for three weeks, and I still have no idea what story to tell you about my mother.
I could talk about how she makes every accomplishment of mine seem spectacular and has made me feel important as hell since I was getting excited for straight A’s on report cards.
I could talk about her being a working mom and still never missing a volleyball game or a dance competition or a Girl Scout event and how she never let me miss anything because I couldn’t get a ride.
I could talk about how she wanted (and still wants) our house to be the literal hub of social activity in Orland Park, how she and my dad were (and still are) constantly telling me to invite people over when I’m home, to just have a party because, you know, it’s Tuesday, so why not?
I could talk about her laughing with me, crying because of me and listening to me as I work out everything from the absurd worries that cross my mind to the things I can’t quite figure out to what kind of curtains would look best in the apartment and whether or not this is a good outfit (which I literally did an hour ago because I know she is better at making that happen than me).
I could talk about each of us laying on our respective couch and watching TV until some ungodly hour of the morning because who needs sleep, anyway?
I could talk about how she invites herself down to see me at college for a weekend and how I always hate to see her go, how while she’s here we go shopping and hold puppies and do all the other things I deprive myself of because I seriously forget how to be a person without her.
I could talk about one weekend in particular that turned into a week because it started with me walking into a hospital “kinda sick” and walking out a Type 1 Diabetic and how she sat with me even when I told her not to and how she tried to do chores around my house even when I told her not to and how all the things I told her not to do were exactly what I needed from her and she knew that better than I did.
By giving you those insights, I have only scratched the surface in describing my mother. It frustrates me to no end that I simply cannot do her justice.
Know this: I love her, I am lucky to call her my mother and if she has graced your life with her presence, you should count that blessing twice.