On the eve of my 46th birthday, I picked Mom up from the airport. She’d come to celebrate both of our birthdays, hers being three days after mine, attend my art reception for The Adventures of Infinity & Negativa: An Adult Fairy Tale, and participate in the spoken word and storytelling event I produce, The Austin Writers Roulette.
She’s one of the funniest people I know even when she’s not trying. Check out the reading glasses propped on top of the shades while checking her FLIP phone! In true Virgo practicalness, she told me, “At least I can see what I’m doing.” I whisked Mom’s luggage upstairs to my apartment while she waited in the car since she wanted to minimize the amount of walking up and down the stairs. Anytime she had to walk up and down those stairs she’d groan, “These stairs will beat you down.”
Then, I took her to several places to buy a wig. At the first two, she didn’t even try one on, but at this shop, the owner and I convinced Mom to try on a couple.I was happy that she’d finally abandoned that rolling-up-the-hair madness after about 60 years of doing so. Growing up, I’d always heard my maternal grandmother say a woman’s hair is her crown and glory. Mom certainly takes that very seriously. Perhaps too seriously. I believe what’s going on underneath the hairstyle is far more important than the hairstyle itself.Throughout her wig trials, she kept asking me if I was taking her picture and I kept saying no. Since I normally keep my phone on vibrate, it soundlessly took pictures.
But who would want to miss the moment when their mother got a new do? Or in Mom’s case, a new glorious crown? And for what became a ubiquitous sight, Mom sitting somewhere, talking on the phone.I sported my Superwoman T-shirt and tiara for my 46th birthday. Although I couldn’t do my job with my tiara on, I’d internalized the royalty. After work, Mom and I walked over to the fitness center. Notice how she wore her athletic shoes, but quickly settled onto a seat, with her phone, a recipe I’d printed out for her at the nearby business center and some ads when I’d checked the mailbox en route. Mom badmouthed me to whomever she was talking to since we’d walked over. Honestly, Mom has no problem walking when she’s shopping, but bulks at walking to work out.
She’d managed to get off the phone for a few minutes to lift a few weights, but nothing too serious. Still, just before we left, Mom wiped down the two pieces of equipment she’d used. I teased her that she was merely removing her fingerprints since she hadn’t broken out into a sweat. For my birthday dinner, we ate at The Buenos Aires Cafe. Since it’s especially known for its empanadas and beef, we shared a veggie and a spicy beef empanadas. Mom indulged in the seafood platter. She no longer buys, cooks nor orders seafood because Dad has developed a shellfish allergy. Although we split a chocolaty dessert, Mom and I stuffed down another chocolaty dessert, courtesy of our waiter. The day after my birthday, Mom and I went swimming. Of course she does everything in style! We went to an outdoor pool, where Mom did her water aerobic exercises while I swam a half mile. The following day, someone knocked on the door. To our surprise, one of my sisters had balloons, chocolate-dipped strawberries and fruit delivered. That delivery happened right on time. I was on my lunch break, which started off with two dipped strawberries. I let Mom wrestle with the balloons and plastic to get to the fruit. I polished off lunch with a slice of pineapple. By good fortune, I got off work early, so I took Mom to one of my favorite BBQ places. Whenever I bring a visitor, I make sure to let the staff know. They welcomed Mom, allowed her to sample some things, but I already knew I would order a pound of extra moist brisket, some creamed corn and jalapeno sausage. Mom also wanted cole slaw, which went well with our brisket sandwiches. I tried to take a picture of Mom with food on the table without her chewing, but that never happened. After a while, I put away my camera phone and dug in as well.After eating, we went outside to see the peacocks. They were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps the heat had them in hiding.
Following dinner, we went to the mall, which was nearby despite the throes of rush hour traffic. Better to walk off dinner than to sit in traffic. Of course, since we were shopping, Mom had no complaints about walking. Before going home, we stopped by a grocery store since Mom wanted more fresh produce for her morning smoothies. I picked us up a treat that had been recommended to me by a cashier: chile pepper pecan ice cream! One of Mom’s all-time favorite ice creams was butter pecan. This took that flavor to a different level. For Mom’s birthday dinner, we ate at Hi Hat. I didn’t remember seeing this drum kit chandelier before. One of the reasons I chose this restaurant was it was in walking distance of the gallery. Once again, Mom complained about having to walk “so far” to get to the restaurant. When I reminded her of how she’d walked much farther at the mall, she replied, “But that was SHOPPING.” I told her it was all psychological and reminded Mom she should be happy she still has the ability to walk.
The women whom I’d invited to perform dramatic readings for four of the paintings, showed up at least an hour ahead of the performance–my usual curtain call. The two dramatic readers, who read the part of “Infinity,” both wore the character’s signature color, purple. Continuing Mom’s 76th birthday celebration, she held court in the back of the art gallery. Before the dramatic reads began, I secured a chair for her in the middle of the room, so she could be in the thick of the action. To introduce the readings, I first stated that I’d chosen Saturday, September 10th for the date of the reception since it was Mom’s birthday. I didn’t lead the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to her, but everyone applauded. At the end of the night, we cleaned up the food, candy and alcohol. Mom drained the drink dispenser of its apple martini. I imagined this was how she milked cows on her family’s farm.
For Mom’s last evening, we ate at a local coffee shop and also attended a weekly artist workshop. Mom mostly drank water and smoothies while she visited with me. I managed to take one picture of her sipping my margarita.
By the time I dropped Mom off at the airport early the next morning, she actually was high–from that wonderful feeling of a vacation well spent.