GOODBYE, MOM: Thank You For Everything — Including All the MEGOS

A TOYHEM remembrance for Chanukah…

Welcome to TOYHEM! For the fifth straight holiday season, we’re bringing you a series of features and columns celebrating the toys of our youth, which often made for the best memories this time of year. Click here to check out the complete index of stories — and have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah and Happy Holidays! — Dan

Every year since 2014, I’ve run a story at the start of Chanukah about the time when I was 7 and snuck around to find my presents, only to learn that I’d gotten everything that I wanted: the Mego Batmobile, Batcycle, Batcopter, Batgirl — and best of all, the Mego Batcave. I then lied to my Mom about finding out and got away with it, but not without some life-altering guilt attached.

Readers always seem to get a bang out of it. It’s become a bona fide tradition here at 13th Dimension, with folks even telling me they look forward to re-reading the story every year.

It always makes me happy because the Megos are the MacGuffin: The subtext, the real point of the story, is about my bond with my mother.

As it happens, Mom died this year, back in April. I haven’t written about it until now. She was 85 and had a good run, as they say, but it’s been painful and I think about her all the time. So with Chanukah here (it starts at sundown Dec. 7), I was faced with rerunning THE MEGO BATCAVE AND ME: A Holiday Story. And in this context, it doesn’t seem to be enough.

My collection has grown substantially since childhood.

My Mom — known to the rest of the world as Bette Greenfield — gave me lots more than Megos, naturally: She gave me love, a home, affection and warmth. She shared her marvelous sense of humor and instilled in me a never-say-die resilience and stick-to-it attitude that directly influenced my life and career. With a mostly absentee father, she tried to play two parental roles, succeeding in many essential ways.

That’s not to say she was perfect. Sometimes her advice was right on target and other times it missed by a wide mile and I wouldn’t come to make the distinction until I was an adult myself. Sometimes she made stupid, unfiltered comments that would create rifts that would require a lot of time to repair. She was a character with a big personality, for good and bad; there wasn’t a tale she couldn’t make just a little taller for comedic or dramatic effect. As I said to family and friends in her eulogy, she was perfectly imperfect.

My Mom, Bette Greenfield, in 1973

Mom had an ambivalent relationship with my love of comics: The older I got, the less she approved, but she never did the stereotypical throw-them-out-when-I-wasn’t-looking bit. Instead it became a routine point of debate. At the ripe old age of 14 — I’d already started working and felt strongly that I should control at least some of my earnings — I would say things like, “Come on, Mom, leave me alone. Let me enjoy them while I can. I mean, it’s not like I’ll be reading them when I’m 28!” Little did either of us know that I’d be twice that age while running this website.

I finally got her off my back by persuading her that my collection would be worth something some day. She grew up in an upper-middle-class household but we were frequently facing hard times, largely because my father was a resolute deadbeat. So the idea that there was value here appealed to her and I was able to escape scrutiny.

She wanted me to have the kind of big-ticket comforts she grew up with. I remember one Chanukah, when I was maybe 11 or 12, where I found her sitting on her bed crying, and she explained to me that she wanted me to have something big, something special, like a pool table or something like that. This was mystifying to me: A) I’d never shown any desire to play pool; B) Where the hell would we put a pool table anyway?; and C) I was set. I didn’t need anything big. I had Megos. The Batcave was big, as far as I was concerned. It took up space on the floor. It gave me countless hours of escapist fun. I never, ever, ever, tired of it.

I do recognize that through a modern lens, this a classic example of privilege, even though we were strapped. But in the moment, it was just me and my Mom, who was beating herself up for thinking she couldn’t give me the finer things in life.

Yet she had already given me the finest things: love, shelter, kindness, support, guidance, ethics and drive. She was a great Mom for a boy, or at least this one. And, without realizing it, she gave me a whole other world. Comics, which I usually paid for with my allowance or when I got my first job at 13, will always be my first love and the backbone of my collection.

But she was directly responsible for practically every Mego I owned — Batman, Robin, Batgirl, the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman, the Batmobile, the Batcopter, the Batcycle and many other figures. And, yes, the Batcave. (After reading the annual piece, she told me she’d driven all over creation for the Batcave and found the last one on a shelf at some far-flung toy store, an hour away in Toms River, N.J.)

I got the Megos when times were good and I held onto them when they weren’t. They meant the world to me, and still do.

Just like my Mom.


— The Complete TOYHEM INDEX of Stories and Features. Click here.

— THE MEGO BATCAVE AND ME: A Holiday Story. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Beautiful piece, Dan, and my condolences. It’s a touching reminder that we dig this stuff not because we don’t have complementary devotion and love in our lives, but because we *do*. It took a while for me to process my mom’s passing, but when I could, I channeled it into an episode of my radio show.
    I’m glad you took the time to time to honor your mom on your wonderful site.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this, and so sorry for your loss. My mom passed away last month, rather suddenly, so it was helpful to read this. My mom, like yours, played a big part in fostering my comic book love. Even if it wasn’t her thing, it brought her joy to know it brought me joy. Again, sincere condolences on your loss.

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    • Thank you so much — and I’m very sorry for your loss. We all have to find our ways.

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      • Thank you, Dan. We find our ways, that’s for sure. I really appreciate the joy your site brings, in good and bad times.

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  3. That was lovely Dan. Very sorry for your loss, but it sounds like you had a wonderful mother. I know the feeling.

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  4. Sorry for your loss. My mother, who was very, very supportive of my love of comics*, passed away in March 2020, and I still miss her and think about her every day. My thoughts and condolences are with you too.

    * she loved to talk about her childhood love of EC comics, she got me Mighty Marvel Team-up Thrillers when I was first getting into comics as an adolescent (almost exactly 40 years ago), brought home a copy of Amazing Spider-man 3 she’d picked up for a dime at a thrift store, and so many more!

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  5. A beautiful love letter to your Mom and mom’s everywhere. You were blessed with a great mom who was a Wonder Woman all her own. Happy Hanukkah.

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  6. Dan,

    Thanks for sharing this great tribute to your mother. It is easy to see the path that made you the awesome guy you are today based on this story.

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  7. I remember finding my Christmas presents my mom hid in her closet, they were the Mego Starship Enterprise with Captain Kirk and Spock and the Six Million Dollar Man figure with his rocket/operating table. That was a good Christmas.
    So sorry for your loss. Best wishes to you and your family.

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  8. Thanks for the great story and my condolences for the loss of your mother.
    This will be my first Christmas without my mom. She was in the hospital last Christmas.
    She and my father (passed in 2020) bought me many Mego figures and the Batmobile in the 70s. I’ll never forget those Christmases.

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