Kitt Shapiro, Only Child Of Eartha Kitt, Honors Legendary Mother With Lifestyle Collection Of Home, Gift Items
The amazing press I have received since launching Simply Eartha is a true testament to the way my mother lived her life and the impact she had on this earth. I beam with pride.
Monday, August 5, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I was eyeing the chain as it draped across the driveway, marking it's territory, daring anyone to cross. The large, shiny steel colored links held each other with the strength of ancient Chinese warriors. It hung low in the middle like a pregnant cat's belly, but maintained its power nonetheless. I was hypnotized as it swayed lazily to and fro, sparkling in the sun. I was not intimidated by this 'stranger deterrent'. It was 'on duty' for my protection; to keep potential intruders away. For my safety and that of my mother's. This albatross was my friend. So why shouldn't I be allowed to play with it.
As an only child, jumping rope was a lonely activity and at eleven years old, I craved the excitement of being a part of 'Double Dutch', the jump rope game where two people hold the ends of one or two ropes, and others jump in and out, timing it so as not to disrupt the rhythm of the rope turning. My mother would tell me of the many childhood hours she spent on the streets of Harlem vying for the title, "Double Dutch Champion" with the other neighborhood kids. Family pedigree, or lack thereof, didn't make any difference if you could keep your two feet moving in time to avoid missing a beat and getting tied up in that rope.
Realizing that a chain, held solidly by two stone pillars, was nothing like a fluid rope held tactfully in the hands of pigtailed teenagers, I knew I was going to have to propel myself up and over with only my leg strength and my ability to gauge the amount of clearance height to help. Piece of cake, I thought. No problem at all. I didn't have the concern of judging other peoples' timing. I just had to run and jump. Simple.
It probably would have been a good idea if I had taken my mornings' choice of footwear into consideration prior to my decision to pursue a version of a common neighborhood game. That being said, I got a good running start, open-toed sandals and all. Hindsight, as they say, is twenty twenty.
My mother, had been silently standing by, observing my process as she tended to her chickens in our two story aviary, all the time watching and waiting to see the scenario playing out in front of her unfold. I'm not sure if it crossed her mind to question my decision to leap over a chain hanging two and a half feet above a gravel paved driveway, let alone my undertaking the task wearing sandals, but, in her wisdom (and I can only say this now as a parent of teenagers and young adults), she held her tongue, believing that a decision made without thinking of the possible outcome and failing (painfully, I might add), was a lesson better learned, than a mother wanting to shield a child with the wisdom of her older years.
As I lay on the ground, tears falling, knees and elbows scraped, I felt my mother's arms effortlessly scoop me up, pressing me to her so tightly that it was hard to distinguish which one of us was bleeding. "Guess those weren't the best choice of shoes for jumping over that chain." Another way of her saying 'I told you so', without uttering those words. She cleaned and bandaged my wounds and dried my tears, not knowing whether or not she should be angry at my stupidity as she struggled with the difficulty of allowing her child to learn from her own mistake in judgement.
My mother was never one to make things easy. Even though she was able to give me a generous life style, she made sure I learned many of life's lessons the hard way, through trial and error. I don't think that was easy for either of us.
I still have the scars on my knees from that ill fated choice, nor will it ever be known if I would have heeded any type of warning from her in the first place, but I can say that it was truly a lesson I will never forget.
Now, as I look at my own children, graduating college, still attending and about to begin, I wonder if I have been able to hold my tongue as often as my mother did, and if I have allowed them to truly learn tough lessons on their own. Or, have I made it easier for myself, intervening before pain was felt, in an attempt to save them and me, from the inevitable.
Hindsight is still twenty twenty. And life's lessons are still being learned.
What we remember. What we treasure. What we love... Simply Eartha
Monday, April 15, 2013
How true it is. We often miss what's truly said because we are too busy talking. Or listening. To our music devices, television, computers. Trying to tune out the real world.
We talk so much, others don't listen anymore.
I love the sound of silence.
My mother loved the sound of her own thoughts.
And she would write her thoughts down. On whatever paper was available. I must have thousands of pieces of writing. Often times, it's just rambling, but in some of those pieces I have found pearls.
"When I die", she would say, "don't throw anything away. All I have created, is for you to use when I'm gone."
I would roll my eyes, as children (even those who are adults) tend to do when a parent says something they think ridiculous. But, I listened. I threw nothing out that my mother had birthed. Ephemera, I have learned, is the proper terminology for all those pieces of scrap paper. And, as fate, and my mother, would have it, those very writings, in her own hand, are in fact what I am using as the foundation for the next chapter in my life.
So, I am building, not only upon the foundation of love and strength she instilled in me, I am also taking her penned words to carry on and expand the legacy she left me.
And these words, in their silence, are extremely powerful. As was my mother.
What we remember. What we treasure. What we love. Simply... Eartha.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Friday, December 7, 2012
Tis the season for "Santa Baby". The song. My mother first recorded that song, written by Joan Javits and Phil Springer, in 1953 with Henri René and his Orchestra. It quickly became a huge hit and she re-recorded it on several more albums. She never grew tired of singing it, and her fans never grew tired of requesting it. Even at her final performance in September 2008, she sang it as an encore.
That song is now a holiday classic and has been covered by many artists from different genres over the years, but, my mother's version is still the one most associated with the season. And, being quite biased, I think it also happens to be the best.
Four years ago Christmas Day, my mother died. The irony of her passing on the day when one of her biggest hits is at its most popular, was not lost on me. I think she just wanted to guarantee that every year her voice would be heard and people would think of her fondly. I must say, it is a strange yet heartwarming feeling to be in a store this time of year, and suddenly hear your mother singing in the rotation of holiday songs that fill the air.
I have not inherited my mother's musical talent or her unique voice, as has been pointed out to me on many occasions (mostly by my children), but the memories of the incredible life I had with her as well as the joy of continuing to share her with you, are just as precious and what I carry in my heart.
This holiday season, I hope you remember the people who touched your life. Treasure the moments that really matter. And love the ones around you unconditionally.
From my family to yours, Happy Holidays.
What we remember. What we treasure. What we love. Simply Eartha.
Saturday, September 8, 2012
That statement rang so true for me that I had to pause and write it down. I now re-read it daily as I embark on a new uncharted path since my mother's death three and a half years ago.
I wouldn't say that I grew up in my mother's shadow, but as the only child of a famous woman, I do feel there was a kind of security in being 'the daughter of...'.
My mother often introduced us to people, saying, "I'm Eartha and she's Kitt", as if I completed her. And, in some ways, I guess I did. Her mother had died when she was very young. She didn't know who her father was and was disconnected from any of her relatives, so I really was her only family. And she clung to me with an intensely deep, unconditional love.
My childhood may have been unconventional, traveling with my mother as she toured and performed internationally, I studied at the Lycee Francais in Los Angeles and with tutors when on the road, but my mother believed that no classroom or textbook could duplicate the education and appreciation a person gets from seeing the world firsthand.
As most mothers and daughters can attest, our relationship was also at times conflicted. As a teenager and young adult, I often felt my mother loved me too much, that she held on too tight. It is not easy for anyone to establish a balance, but when your mother is an international celebrity, it can be even more complicated. Yet, not impossible. And, as I matured, I came to appreciate and understand my mother's immense devotion and the tremendous gift her love has given me. It now fills my heart and soul since the loss of her physical presence.
Christmas Day 2008, my mother lost her battle with colon cancer and these years without her have been an evolution for me. I have had to adjust to no longer being someone's daughter. I have cried; been angry; felt lost and alone. But, I have also been able to laugh, rejoice and feel gratitude for how blessed I was to have had such and incredible woman for a mother.
My mother was a real, complex, and at times, flawed, human being. She taught me to be true to myself. To live honestly and with respect for everything and everybody. To possess calm in place of panic and to remember that humor is one of life's most precious gifts.
It is now my turn to build on that beautiful, solid foundation my mother gave me. I am embarking on a new chapter of my journey. I still cry sometimes, and feel scared, but I hold tight to the knowledge that my mother's love and spirit fill all that surrounds me and it is her shadow that I now embrace and carry with me in my heart as I move forward on this new, unfolding path.
What we remember. What we treasure. What we love. Simply... Eartha
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Since my mother died, Mother's Day has been filled with mixed emotions, celebrating my life as a mother while longing for my own.
The greatest gift my mother gave me was knowing that she always loved me. All the more remarkable, because as a child, love was something she never had. Sometimes, I felt that she loved me too much, but now as a parent I'm not sure you can ever love a child too much. My mother certainly didn't think you could.
As I continue to sort through the piles of her handwritten pages, I often stumble upon thoughts she wrote about and to, me. Some are uncomfortable to read, but all are filled with her love. On this Mother's Day, I share one with you.
Mirrors cannot hold the image of you I hold in my eyes
I will bring the skies down to earth for you
The feelings I have for you are etched upon my heart and soul.
My mother's love is forever etched in ME.
What We Remember, What We Treasure, What We Love..... Simply Eartha
What We Remember, What We Treasure, What We Love..... Simply Eartha