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The Hawk's Nest

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The 3 M's

May has come and gone. Along with the normal spring activities, May brings to me the three M’s: Mothers Day, Memorial Day and Mom’s Birthday. Sometimes, on a good year, Memorial Day and Mom’s Birthday are on the same day, though not this year. 

First, a mother story. 

Over fifty years ago a young mother laid her newborn son on the changing table to do the diaper-changing thing. As soon as the diaper was off, the baby boy shot a stream straight up nailing his mom.

After all it’s never too early to start checking range and elevation. 

Her reaction was laughter because getting upset was out of the question; after all she was his mama. And he had given her a story to tell on him all his life; already he was adding to the family legacy of laughter.  It was his first lesson in the use of humor to relieve stress in relationships.

Now, a Memorial Day story.

I told Mom we would pick her up about 2 and take her to the cemetery. “There won’t be any flowers left to take to the graves,” she grumbled. I told her that was as soon as we could get to town, and tried to assure her we would find plenty of flowers. 

She hates being dependent on others. She frets about not driving anymore. Most folks are glad she doesn’t, especially the County Deputy she t-boned while pulling out of the bank a few years ago. He called and explained the accident. It was very minor; in fact, we both got a laugh out of it, but we also knew there was a problem. When Mom decided to sell her car, I couldn’t have been happier.

Back to Memorial Day. At the store we found more flowers than even I expected. We picked out plenty.  

We left her walker at home for the trip to the cemetery. This walker is a real deluxe model. It has big wheels with independent brakes on each side and a basket that could hold a week’s worth of groceries. For her, it holds three weeks worth. And it also has a seat she can set on when she gets tired. Best of all it keeps her ambulatory. 

I thought she should paint flames on it and maybe add some lake pipes. She reacted the same way she did when I suggested this treatment for the family four-door back in the early 60’s. 

Anyway, the walker wasn’t with us so it took one on each side holding as she walked to the graves. 

There were some tears as she dealt with her memories. It’s during times like this that she sometimes gets a little confused. 

Back at the car she told us where she wanted to go for her birthday dinner. I said great, and told her we would be back on her birthday for the dinner. Then I looked at her and realized she was planning on that dinner now. 

I dug for something to say, but not before she remembered her birthday was not on Memorial Day this year. She tried to cover by saying it would save us another trip into town in a couple of days. I teased her a little about the lapse and told her she was going to have to put up with us again later in the week because we wanted to take her out on her real birthday. We had a quick burger, she ate her usual three bites and a couple of fries, and we joked a little. 

During the meal she said she was having trouble hearing conversations on her telephone. This was no surprise to us but we didn’t expect her to admit it. 

She also said she missed calls when she went into the bathroom, closed the door and turned on the fan. I said, “Anyone would have trouble hearing the phone under those conditions and remember, you’re nearly deaf.” She laughed and looked at me and said “Huh.” We all laughed.

After fast food we took her back to her apartment, got her meds organized for a few days and headed home. Now we knew what we could buy her for her birthday. She’s hard to buy for anymore but I love getting things she wants. She is my mama.

On to Mom's Birthday.

On her day we picked her up for dinner. She felt the walker would get in the way at the restaurant so we did the six-legged, three-person shuffle from the car. Step one… da dum da dum… and two…da dum da dum, now we’re up to speed da dum da dum and into the building. I quipped that I was having trouble keeping up. She asked if I needed a walker.

We were seated at a good table looking out over the lake. With the sun sinking behind the mountains it made a perfect birthday setting.  We ordered a bottle of her favorite wine and talked while we waited for dinner. I told her, “If you drink too much, you’ll have to get a designated driver for your walker.” 

We laughed and had a little more wine.

Our dinner arrived. Like any good forty-dollar dinner it was attractive and graciously served. Mom had her first bite and savored it; I could tell she was pleased; she loves good food. With her second bite she said she was starting to get full. By the time she got through her third bite she was “absolutely stuffed, why do they serve so much?” 

I looked at her plate. There was about $36.50 left on it. 

I asked if she could eat any more. She said, “Maybe just a little more wine. Not much, I don’t want to get tipsy.” 

“Mom,” I teased, “how can you get tipsy? You can’t even walk.” She grinned and tried to kick me under the table. I saw it coming; she’s slower than when I was a kid. Back then she never missed.

We did the shuffle back to the car. As we passed the servers they told her how cute she was. She loved the attention.

Back at her place we gave her the new phone. I hooked it up, programmed in the numbers she called most and called it from my cell phone to adjust the volume. 

“Why that thing makes a terrible racket. I’ll jump clear out of my skin if I’m setting next to it,” she declared. 

“Well if you want to hear it in the bathroom with the door closed and the fan on, it’ll need to be that loud,” I countered. “Why don’t you just take it in with you? After all. it’s cordless and then we could turn down the ringer.”

“I tried that with my old one,” she said, “but no one calls when I do that.”

That’s my mom. 

As we drove home from Mom’s, we talked about humor in the cycles of life and the continuation of family legacies and laughter.  

May is a full month, but I’m glad for the three M’s, especially for Mom.

Maybe I do laugh at her, but she doesn't want me to be sad and to be upset is out of the question. After all, she is my Mama.

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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

Tagged as:

editorial, Family, parents, holidays, aging

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