Waxing Nostalgic About The Bevinator

Bless her overly opinionated heart—The Bevinator would have turned 88 years young in October this year. It’s still hard to fathom that she’s been gone for six years. In fact, today is the sixth anniversary of Mom’s passing.

As I sit here musing about Mom, it only takes a quick glance around my living room to be reminded of her. Her weird grape leaf ceramic canisters adorn my stovetop. Pictures of her and Dad far outnumber the other framed photos on my glass-covered, antique cherry wood table (which she bequeathed to me when I moved into my new house, by the way.)

But more than mementos, The Bevinator’s legacy lives on through the countless stories people like to share about her brazenly, brassy, bad-ass self. 92 percent of ’em start the same way: “Your mom was a pistol. I remember when she … ” or “Man, you didn’t mess with The Bevinator. This one time …”

So when I asked my friends on social media to wax nostalgic about the maven, the myth, the legend that is Bev Mackie—they certainly weren’t shy about reminiscing.

First up, one of my fave memories about Mom:

I remember being six-years old and singing Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” at the top of my lungs. Except I wasn’t singing “Hot Stuff”—nope, I was singing “Potluck“—because that’s what The Bevinator told me was the chorus of the song. To this day, I still sing, “Going to a potluck, baby, this evening, going to a potluck, baby, tonight” because of that. (And, keep in mind, at the time it made perfect sense—as we’d go to potlucks every Sunday.)

“I always thought it was a hoot that she called me your ‘normal’ friend.”—Wendy Lyons. (My mom did not suffer fools lightly. Somehow The Bevinator inexplicably found no fault of any kind with my KCCI-TV colleague Wendy. In fact, she was a Wendy super-fan. I can’t say the same for any other of my co-workers or high school friends.)

“I will never forget the decimation of the young Olive Garden waitress for not bringing enough breadsticks to the table—even though she had literally brought 100 in a basket.”—Mark Fisher (A memory from my British cousin who visited Iowa once and saw full-tilt Bev in action at her all-time favorite restaurant.)

“She was a special neighbor who lived across the street from us for many years. She was so proud of you, and loved you with all her heart.” —Joanne Strait

A hilariously classic (and fully accurate) story from my dear friend Lyra Puzon:

(Dateline: Des Moines, late 1990-something)
(Ring ring)

Bevinator: “Hello?”
Me: “Hi, is Michael around?”
B: “Who may I ask is calling?”
Me: “It’s Lyra!”
B: “And how do you associate with Michael?”
Me: “It’s me, Lyra! Token Asian? Pizza Hut Lyra!? You told me I needed to button up my polo.”
B: “Ah, yes, I recall you (something under her breath). He’s not home right now.”
Me: “Oh, I know. I was wondering if I could get his number in KC.”
B: “I will relay your message to him and if he chooses to call you back, that’s on him.”
Me: “But …”
Beverly: “What’s your number, dear?”
Me: “265-xxxx.”

Beverly then proceeds to literally interview me—asking questions like mother’s maiden name, place of employment, how long my mortgage was, etc.

(Several minutes later …)

Beverly: “Ok, Lyra, I feel like I trust you now. Here’s his number. I’ll still tell him you called. If he doesn’t answer, let me know.” #MamaBevBear, I miss you and our phone chats!” —Lyra Puzon

Photo credit: Mindy Myers Photography

“Her worrying about her hair at your family photo shoot. And you told her that I was so good at Photoshop that I could turn her into a small Asian man.” —my bestie/ photographer Mindy Myers

Another wholly accurate reminiscent story from my colleague and college galpal Heather Wendt:

(Dateline: Amana Colonies, circa 1989)
“We were babies. Your folks took us to dinner. Papa Mackie had no interest whatsoever in the conversation—just what was on the menu and did they have pecan pie. But Mama Bev was all about it. In fact, now to think of it, I have never seen you actually quiet for an entire meal—unless we were with your mom. Let me tell you, you might have won an Emmy or two, but when it came to a natural daytime talk show host, The Bevinator was the queen! Miss you and your mom and dad—two amazing, funny, caring and devoted parents. Not just to you, but to all they met.” —Heather Wendt

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