May 5, 2011

Mother's Day - For My Mom

I'm going to put this up for Mother's Day. It was originally published in March, 2006, but it's one of the few columns I still go back to and reread. This one's for you, Mom.

I don’t like ice cream. A couple spoonfuls a year is enough for me, which works out well because No Frills puts these little containers on sale for a dollar about twice a year.

We open them one at a time and sit there holding spoons and watching television passing the tub around because family cooties don’t count.

Our home is a dictatorship, and Czarina Lorraine doesn’t buy ice cream any other time. The boys quit asking for it years ago, because they knew if they did I’d just find whole- wheat ice cream somewhere.

I was driving with Ari, 11, the other day. Out of the blue, he turned to me.

“I liked ice cream with Grandma,” he said quietly.

Mom died six years ago this month. Her last months were spent in and out of the hospital, and Ari spent most afternoons after kindergarten playing in her hospital room. He would draw pictures, comb her hair, charm the nurses and give her innocent baby kisses. And eat ice cream.

My mom would save him little tubs of ice cream, those single servings that come with that silly little wooden paddle. Ari loved that paddle. I would watch my mother watching my son, he so intent on enjoying the ice cream, she so intent on enjoying anything. Anything at all.

My mom had one of those Queen Elizabeth hairstyles, the kind achieved with something called a roller set. The problem was if you brushed it, all the curl came out, and you had to have it set again. She loved it if we brushed her hair, but only the day before a hair appointment.

She would let Ari brush to his heart’s content while she was sick. I would shore it up before we left, but she knew she was measuring her time in moments and was going to let no opportunity for love go by her. It’s funny how you have all the time in the world when you find out you really have none at all.

My children spent a great deal of their lives in their Grandma’s arms. They say it’s about quality, not quantity. I say they don’t know what they’re talking about. It was her grandchildren who kept my mother alive so long, and they miss her fiercely to this day. My niece, who was just 2 when mom died, has constructed a whole relationship with her from pieces of memory, photos, stories and wishes.

When my dad died, he did not go gently into that good night. He thrashed and railed and raged. There was no TV movie dénouement, just anger. My mother swore she would be graceful and calm, to make up for Dad. Always the gracious hostess, she did just that. I know I am my father’s daughter, and will choose fight over flight. But I will share my ice cream.

Ari used to look forward to going to the hospital to visit. He would colour stick figure boys with balloons, telling Grandma to get well soon and come home. There was hope in the heartbreak, but only if you were five and thought ice cream could cure cancer.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing, Lorraine.... amazing.

May 05, 2011 8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I needed a cry.

Its been 2 years for me

May 05, 2011 9:56 PM  
Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...

When I read the first paragraph I almost stopped there, because I'm going out to buy new tires and red eyes in a tire shop just look... well, bad.

Almost stopped, but didn't.

Now my keyboard's soaked and I need a new shirt and I look like I just walked through a sandstorm with my eyes wide open.

Why do I let you do this to me?

My word is "vellinte". Very nearly "valentine" which is full of hearts and love. Just like this story.

May 06, 2011 9:08 AM  
Anonymous Roz said...

First of all, yer welcome. At least we got a double dose of Lorraine.

Secondly, you made me bawl twice in two days (Saturdays Wheels & this one). Once again, when my phone rings I'll have to say I'm getting a cold which is why my voice sounds funny.

May 06, 2011 10:00 AM  
Anonymous B1 said...

Happy Mum's Day, Lorraine.

Oh -- and well done. You did her proud.

May 07, 2011 10:35 AM  
Anonymous PJ said...

Happy Mothers Day Lorraine. Thanks for sharing your life experiences with us including this story about your mum. My mother passed in 1978 when I was 19. Your thoughts helped kick my memories into gear. After all these years I don't take time to appreciate my own family and history until something like this blog entry comes along and gets me reflecting.

Hope the boys are good to you today and thanks again.

May 08, 2011 10:20 AM  

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