"Mom, (Polly)", Nina said,"was a remarkable woman...Before she married my father she'd been in show business as a musical comedy star. But after she married she gave up the business--completely--until Bobby came along and she saw, after awhile, that he could amount to something in this business she'd loved, respected so much.

"She's the one who encouraged Bobby. I mean encouraged him-- the one who told him, through all the years, that nothing could ever stop him as long as he never stopped." "People who didn't know her well criticized her sometimes", Nina went on. "Friends, relatives..'So he's got a nice voice, a nice style ', they'd say.'--'but why do you make it as though he's the most marvelous thing since John Barrymore and Sarah Bernhardt combined?' And Mama would say 'Because he IS the most marvelous thing, that's why!' "As far as Mama was concerned , there was nothing that her Bobby could do wrong. I think, I really think, that if he walked into the house one day and said, 'Mama, I just killed somebody,'--she would of said to him, 'Well, killing is a bad thing , but you must of had some good reason, Bobby.' There was nothing she wouldn't do for him. If making sure that Bobby would be a success someday meant her jumping off the Empire State Building, Mama wouldn't have thought twice. She would of jumped --smiling." "Some people--and there were more than just some people--quite a few people in fact--wondered about this relationship they had, my mother and my brother. They thought it was too much. They used to be surprised the way Mama would talk to Bobby sometimes, like when out of the clear blue sky she'd say something like ,'Bobby, you have beautiful eyes--now learn to use them, so that when you are in front of an audience you really wow them!'...And they used to be surprised, these people, shocked, at the way Bobby would spend so much time following Mama's advice, like the way he'd stand in front of the mirror and practise with his eyes. But what they didn't realize was that my mother knew show business. And that there was no point she wouldn't go to, to see that he made it in show business."

"There was so much criticism. Even toward the end. "It was only a year ago...

"Bobby was at the beginning of making it big, "Mama was very sick with her heart. "Bobby had to be away on tours in California, TV shows, record hops, this, that. "And there were people who said'You'd think if he loved his mother so much, that he'd be home more now, now that it's the end.' "But --if they'd only known how proud Mama was. How happy she was. "Lying in her bed. Watching her son on the television, or listening to his records. Not caring that she was dying. But knowing that the talent in her boy, the talent she had seen so far back, so long ago, was beginning to live...."

Nina looked up. And she wiped away some of the tears which has come suddenly to her eyes. "There are always critics, "She said."--like some of the people who said, just before mama died, 'You'd think he'd buy a nicer house than this place in Lake Hiawatha'-this place ...'After all they'd say,'it's not very fancy, and a guy making that much money, who's supposed to love his mother so much , you'd think--"

Nina stopped and shook her head. "If they knew", she said, "that Bobby knew Mama didn't have long. That he bought this place for her before he really made it big with his success to give her a little extra happiness, that he wanted her to have at least a little extra time in a better world than what she'd known, even a small house like this compared to that dumpy little apartment in The Bronx where she'd had to live most of her life--"

"If they knew what this place meant to her..." Nina stopped again. "Excuse me," she said as she walked out of the room.

We got up too, a moment later. "Are You leaving?", Vivi, Nina's daughter asked us. We said yes, we were.

"But Uncle Bobby isn't up yet," Vivi said. "You didn't even get the story you came for." We told her she was wrong.

We got our story, we said.

Special thanks to Mary Spooner for contributing this article

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