Sunday, May 13, 2018

In honor of my mother

This post, from 2009, recounts the last happy Mother's Day I spent with my mom. Following this spring Sunday, she seemed to get more vague, more stubborn, and sicker. Our relationship became harder and harder for me, as I worked hard not to let my frustrations with her and my sisters darken our last years together. That was exhausting for me. I'd rather revisit this than all that. Because this is the mommy I miss.

A Special Lunch for Mommy & Me

Today we celebrated Mother's Day. Because of my mom's recent illness, the day felt especially poignant and meaningful.

She loves, LOVES Barack Obama, often beginning her comments about him with, "Not since JFK … " So I got her the Time Magazine coffee table book about his campaign and inauguration, and her very own Barack Obama action figure. I also gave her a Subway gift card so she can treat my niece and nephew to lunch next time they come over. (Subway is several blocks up the street, so it will be good exercise for my mom and healthy for the kids.)

Then we went to a special Mother's Day brunch. It was fancier than her usual lunch haunts, with free mimosas for both of us (I drank hers while she had decaf) and a pair of complementary roses for her. She went up to the buffet twice -- taking pork and dumplings the first trip and salmon and salad the second time. For dessert, we both had strawberry shortcake. It was great to see her eat and eat AND EAT!!! (My sister's family took her out to dinner yesterday, too!)

We talked a lot. When she was really sick and kind of out of it, she referred to everyone's pet (hers, mine, my sister's, my uncle's) by the name of her girlhood cat. She didn't remember doing that, but it didn't surprise her. She explained how much that cat meant to her, and why. I also heard tales about the other pets she and my uncle had while growing up.

Then we talked frankly about her illness. She has COPD and emphysema. She gets it now. She will always have to take special care of herself now, from here on out. Every day. It doesn't have to stop her from doing things she wants to do, but she will have to change her day-to-day life. She explained that she was in denial at first. She thought that if she resisted what the doctors told her, she wouldn't be letting her condition get to her. She realizes now it was crazy, but she was being honest and I appreciate that. It explains so much about her frustrating behavior after she came home from the hospital.

Most of all, she promised that we would do this again next year. That was her wonderful gift to me, even though Mother's Day is her day.

Sunday Stealing

Mary's Questions

If you could, where would you max out a credit card? With the handyman! I'd get new windows, finish the bathroom and replace the carpet.

Why do you like the music you listen to?
The Beatles. It's always been the Beatles.

My soul sister, February 1964

What are your favorite colors?
Blue. The Cubs wear blue, you know.

Do you collect anything? Books that I've read, or want to read, or want to read again.

What's your dream job?
Something with less stress. I don't know why, but I can see myself at the pet supplies store in the next town. I could wear a green smock. I could direct you to the chew toys or the fish and coral food. I could ring up your jug of kitty litter.

Favorite cosmetics brands: It hasn't been by design, but I notice that I've just so happened to buy a lot of Almay lately.

 Favorite scents:
I like spicy, like cinnamon.

 Favorite flavors:
Lately I've become obsessed with graham crackers. What flavor is that?

 Favorite magazines:
Allure and Glamour

 Favorite piece of jewelry:
My infinity ring.

 Favorite Holiday:

 Favorite season:

 Coffee or tea? Tea

Where would you go on vacation if you could go anywhere? I'd like to go to the TCM Classic Film Festival in Los Angeles.

 What kind of geek are you?
A movie geek. See post below.

Oh, I love her!

I am speaking of the luminous Carole Lombard. She was completely unique. No one delivered a line like Lombard. She spoke fast and had a special way of making each line seem like it just occurred to her. And, oh, she was funny. She made both silly and smart seem so sexy and glamorous.

My movie group saw Hands Across the Table last night. A hit in 1935, during The Depression, Lombard plays Regi. She's a working girl, a manicurist in a luxury hotel. She comes from poverty, and working for the wealthy guests just reminds her of the gap between the haves and the have nots. She determines that she's going to marry rich. She admits that makes her "a heel," but so be it. At least she's honest about it.

One afternoon, a handsome young man with a numeral after his name comes in for a manicure. As she holds his hands, their eyes lock, and chemistry erupts all over the place. So much so that he leaves the salon with six bandaged fingertips ... and a date for that night. Regi's gal pal warns her that men like Theodore Drew III expect their dinner companions to behave in a certain way. Her response?


So it turns out the handsome millionaire is really all Social Register and no bank account. Therefore it doesn't matter how attracted they are. They can't fall in love because if they do, they will derail their grand plans to marry money.

My favorite scenes in the movie are between Regi and Allen (Ralph Bellamy). He's a millionaire who
lives in the hotel and gets a manicure a week (then two or three) right there in his luxury suite. He admires and appreciates Regi, but she doesn't look at him as matrimonial material because he's in a wheelchair. This frees her to be herself with him. I know the filmmakers think this movie has a happy ending, but it left me a little sad. I liked Regi. I liked Allen. How wonderful if they could have lived out there lives together in affection and respect, no artifice. Of course, as this movie makes clear in subtle 1935 ways, no intercourse and no babies. There are ways they could have enjoyed one another sensually, and they could have adopted. (I mean, it was 1935! Imagine all the children who needed homes!) But here I am, looking at the Depression with a Baby Boomer's sensibility.

Still I loved it. And it was good to be with my movie group again. Talking classic movies in a room full of film lovers is sublime!