I went out on a date with my Mom last night.
Every few weeks, I try to do some sort of major operation with Mom, like take her to Canada to visit relatives or to the coast for a day at the beach and clam chowder. This time, we went out to her favorite restaurant ("Elmers--it's, it's uh, it's better than, uh, International House of Pancakes"), we went shopping for music and we saw a movie.
Some quick background: my Mom is a retired nurse, who suffered a stroke ten years ago and has a splendid raft of medical problems, attended by an equally splendid cocktail of daily medications. So she stutters and has trouble finding words, she doesn't move very quickly and she's not so good at complex decisions, but she's a very strong-willed and tenacious person (with heightened emotional complexes, to be sure), and the State of Oregon says she can drive a car, which I can't begin to understand, but the sin is on their heads, not mine. She can cook and take care of herself, and given how many roles have been reversed on her over the years, I err on the side of giving her a wide latitude these days.
Mom likes spectacles, she likes to make a fuss over things and she never ceases to play her sympathy cards around company, something that drives me nuts. But what can you do.
She orders the French Toast, which isn't good for her diabetes but I figure her blood sugar this evening was pretty low for her and besides, what's one night of French Toast going to do to a woman who's survived immigration, stalkers in Detroit, Canadian winters, birthing me, a stroke, a divorce, two heart attacks and a quadruple bypass operation? In that order. And that's just on this side of the Pacific. Ten years ago, the doctors shrugged and said it was a matter of months. Ten. Years. Ago. 8 slices of toast slathered with sugar and cholesterol would probably just shrivel away in the sizzling nuclear maw of my Mom's toked-up metabolism.
Halfway through the dinner, Mom realizes what she really wanted was French Bread, not French Toast. She gets embarrassed about it, so I switch plates with her, and her eyes light up on the roast turkey and vegetables I'd ordered. And it's so worth it to see Mom happy like that. And who am I to say no to French Toast?
After dinner, we have some time to kill, so we stroll over to Music Millennium, because I just got a paycheck that day and sometimes you just deserve some fine music in your life. Mom immediately picks the latest re-release of Elvis Greatest Hits ("I was--oh, I was--uh, I LIKE IT!!!") I take my time, sniffing out the filaments and strains of cool seeping through the listening-station headphones and the glossy cd liners. And I snag a couple of interesting works that I still have yet to pronounce judgement on. (Usually I can get whatever I want from the Library and burn myself a copy, but as I said, sometimes you just deserve something out of the ordinary).
And then we went to see "Ray" at a local independent second-run theatre. And It Was Great. It took a while for Mom to realize that it was a biopic about Ray Charles, but when she did, she lit up immediately and started humming along, very loudly, to every song in the movie. So much so that other patrons moved away, but it can't be helped. You try shushing a round little woman who bounces like a drunk little Eskimo whenever she hears sweet soul R&B.
The movie was about three hours long, and at first I was worried Mom would fall asleep, like she usually does. But she was awake and happy the whole time--and if that's not a tribute to fine bit of filmmaking and amazing music, I don't know what is.
Anyway. Virgil said something about how honorable it is to make your parents happy and woop-woop, I don't know what. I say all it takes is French Toast, Elvis and Georgia On My Mind, and you got yourself and your Momma a great night.