Last night I dreamt that my mother was back and staying in our old house. (Don’t worry Ro, this is not sad). She was the Rosie whose favorite activities were her service as a volunteer at the hospital, and returning things she had shopped for, probably a day or two prior to the return. “It’s my exercise,” she would say. “I walk the entire mall, at least twice every time I go.” Which may I say, was everyday that she didn’t volunteer at the hospital.
Anyway, I was driving past the old homestead and there she was, on the lawn. “Wow, Mom,” I said. “I thought you were gone.”
She just looked at me and said, “Where would I go?” We made small talk for a while and then she invited me in for tea and Vienna Finger cookies. And in I went.
The house looked different. Well of course it did. Someone else lived there. “Mom, do the new owners know you are staying here? Did you call them? You remember, we sold the house to those nice people who put Christmas lights on the bushes.”
In typical Rosie fashion she said, “Why is it their business. It’s always going to be my house”.
“But Mom, we don’t own it anymore. You remember, you moved to Victoria Mews and then out to Seattle with Jeff and Els?”
“Sure. I remember everything.” Her tone was, ‘what do you think? I am some kind of idiot?’ “But what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?”
At that point, I figured the only thing that made sense was that someone had stolen her identity. (Even when I’m dreaming I need it to make sense. Which reminds me, if anyone gets an email message from me suggesting they: need to go on a diet, buy a cosmetic product, or invest in some ridiculous real estate scheme, please assume I got phished.)
Soon enough, (in dream time), Mom got out all the gold jewelry she pretended was real. “Don’t you think this is all gorgeous.” She was clearly talking to herself. “Costume can be as nice as the real stuff.” Then I knew it was my mother, because she was the single only person west of Brussels who would say something like “this crap is to die for,” and really believe it.
We chatted for a while and when I was ready to leave I asked her if wanted me to give her some money. “Why would you ask that Darling. I’ve always had my own money. Why would I need yours?”
Then, I didn’t know what to do, but I figured honesty was the route to take. “Mom, you died and Jeffrey and I split all your money.”
“You didn’t give any to my grandchildren and great grandchildren? You made me wait long enough to be a grandma. I want them to remember that I took care of them, even if I wasn’t there.” And with that she went back into the house. All I could think about was the new house owners arriving home to find Rosie a permanent part of their lives.
Rose and Jordan Kai, 1989
When I awoke, I realized what the dream was about. Over the last few weeks, we have been talking about what to put on her headstone. The sandblaster thought it should be a duplicate of my dad’s (it’s a double headstone, which always gave me the willies).
“But Mom was her own person, and we know she would want her own inscription.”
“There has to be something in Hebrew,” Melissa, the person in charge of memorials insisted.
“Well, Jeffrey wants the Hebrew portion to say, “I never had duck”. That gave her pause.
“I’m not sure there’s a Hebrew word for duck – maybe poultry.”
“You see,” I explained, “Whenever we went to a Chinese restaurant and had a dish with duck, my Mother always said, ‘I never had duck.’ It’s kind of a family joke.”
“Ok, well we will do whatever you want us to do.” She couldn’t wait to get off the phone.
If you want to know what our final decision was you’ll have to come to the unveiling, but that’s not the reason for the blob. After months of being sad, Jeffrey and I had a fabulous laugh about whether or not there was a Hebrew word for duck. As Mom would have said, “sure, laugh at my expense.” She also would have said I could never be Miss America because I couldn’t smile for the duration of the show. But that’s another blob. We’re just sayin’…. Iris
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
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Iris, this is such a lovely story. A real tribute that, as you noted, isn't sad but rather admiring and appreciative. And the photo of your mom laughing at the table is just so fantastic. Shows so much spirit and joy.
I sure hope they found the right word for "duck." Definitely worth the extra effort.
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