As the gravity of our situation sinks in more each day and as we head into this week and next — what is said to be “Our Pearl Harbor,” I think about my mother.
What would she have said about all of this?
I could count on her, even toward the end of her life at 91, to have that quick comeback. That wise, intuitive, deep-from-the-gut answer to my questions. And, always the humor.
“Gotta have humor,” she’d tell me. “Or you’re up a creek.”
Oh, to have that daily 8:00am call…
“Well, he’s done it, again, the fool.”
“Our idiot President. Won’t wear a mask.”
“Mom, you used to like him.”
“Only because we have the same birthday.”
“Now, that’s a reason to vote for him,” I laugh.
My mother would have been glued to the TV. It was her lifeline those last years of her life.
“Now, Cuomo…I love Italians,” she’d say today. “They’re romantic, swarthy. And, this one is sexy as hell.”
“Why am I not surprised?”
After all, this was the woman who hawked the engagement ring from her first husband to go to Italy to find an Italian man.
She’d returned home three weeks later without one. “I had a great time swinging the legs on the barstool,” she’d told me, handing me my souvenir. I’d opened the small paper bag with Italian writing. Inside, a tightly wrapped tissue revealed a rosary made up of clear blue plastic beads. “It’s not blessed by the Pope and all that, but I got it near the Spanish Steps.”
“Now, Trump,” she’d add, “he’s leading us up a long alley without an ashcan. Jesus, the twitting and tweeting of-it-all. And, that Dr. Whatever. You know, the broad with the scarf. What’s her deal? She’s like the matron with the bun in the back. Where’d they find her?”
“She’s very accomplished, Mom.”
“She may be smart, but she’s about as exciting as a toothache.”
“And, explain to me,” she’d add, “all the whining about staying home! Jesus, what’s so bad about staying-at-home. I had friends who lived through the Blitz. They had goddamn bombs falling on them.”
“But they had Churchill, Mom.”
“Well, there’s that.”
“It’s weird, living isolated at home with Hank. We’re always on the go.”
“First you abhor, then you tolerate, then you embrace. That’s what happens.”
“You’ll miss this quiet time with Hank,” she adds. “Trust me.”
“I know I will. But I miss…”
“Quit! You can stand anything that’s temporary.”
“And, then, I think about the illness. The loss of lives, Mom. The loss of jobs, the mental issues. It’s overwhelming.”
“Yeah,” she replies, “It’s a bitch. A lot of people hanging by a stem. Life’s not fun or fair.”
“C’mon, Mom, give me some words. Make me feel better.”
“Well, you have job security,” she laughs. “Hank’s not going anywhere!”
I smile as I gaze out the window of our sunroom, the room where I always took Mom’s call.
“Pay attention,” she’s saying to me. “This is life. Tomorrow is not promised. You’re getting a taste of the whip. Everyone is right now.”
Outside, the sun is peaking out of the clouds, casting light on the leaves of the carob trees that line the fence in our yard.
“Proceed,” Mom says, “as the way opens.”
“What do you think will happen after all of this is over, Mom?”
“If there’s no music, no candles and no flowers, you get up.”