Mother’s Day today began uneventfully. In preparation for a luncheon rally at my sister’s house in the City at noon we first collected a family friend (an octogenarian widow). That arrangement has been conducted several times before for other outings and once again it went off with the usual enquiries about one’s health and the weather. We exchanged some additional intelligence about my mother (an even more elderly widow) before making our way leisurely to my mother’s house to collect her. There the trend changed from the outset. It started with my mother relating in no uncertain terms that we were late for the appointed pick-up time of 11:30 a.m. This she described with some measure of fault as a source of worry for her. I let is slide. One mustn’t I suppose expect exceptional civility from a mother even on Mother’s Day.
As my mother careered her way to the customary front passenger seat of the car, I redirected her to the rear driver’s side so that she might join our guest in the back seat of the car. She undertook this modification with palpable reluctance but succumbed when I alerted her that our guest was already in the back seat. Upon mother twisting herself sufficiently to gain entry to the rear seat of the car, I assisted her with her seat belt. Mother took the metal bolt from me but ended struggling to insert it in its clip. At this point our guest wrestled the bolt from my mother and she too then struggled to insert it but again without success. I quietly observed that the bolt needed to be rotated 180º in order to fit into the clip. This particular tactic was lost upon my audience. When I attempted to interfere with the digital gymnastics I was treated to a round rebuff from our guest who insisted that she could do it herself. This further assurance proved a failure and I therefore turned the bolt and inserted it. At last we were on our way!
Following this minor power skirmish the conversation was at first constrained but soon the collective tension eased. Aside from detouring around the thousands of people who sought to view the tulips surrounding Dow’s Lake there were no further anomalies in our otherwise pacific Sunday journey.
The first order of business upon our arrival at my sister’s house (apart from suggesting to my mother that she exit from the car through the same door that she had entered it rather than crawling over the centre hump and arm-rest to the other side of the vehicle) was of course drinks. His Lordship being renowned as he is for the concoction of the finest Bloody Caesar in the land went at it without delay and within moments everyone was sipping pleasurably upon the day’s first eye-opener. My mother also made a bit of a vocation of the cheese and crackers for as much as she protests never to be hungry she invariably gobbles up whatever is passably tasty. Our general view is that she doesn’t feed herself adequately when alone but she appears – quite understandably – to make up for lost time when in a social environment.
As always my sister and her husband prepared a superb luncheon. Our feast today was fresh salmon cooked on a cedar plank on the barbecue. There were two delicious salads and boiled baby potatoes to complement the fish. And a desirable supply of red and white wine. Dessert was a fresh fruit salad with only a squeeze of lime juice followed by assorted chocolates, sweet biscuits and coffee. The table conversation included an unusual reference to my brother-in-law’s business affairs, a salty reminder to the majority of us at table that retirement is a blessing. This led us onto a tangent about bargaining in the market place generally, a topic from which derived more cherished details of shopping for antiques and a general reinforcement of why my sister and her husband have money in addition to things. At this juncture of the luncheon the combination of the animated subject of antiques and various glasses of wine contributed to a lively drama about the larger principles of life which invariably emanate from matters of personal intimacy.
Although our departure from the festive board seemed somewhat abrupt, the time was already approaching 4:00 p.m. Besides our guest is committed to her Bichon Frisée so we bent to that faithful concern and guided ourselves accordingly. After depositing my mother at her home, we again revisited the gritty details of my mother’s current situation. This included some frank discussion of familial relationships and the undercurrent of plans for her future care. While some of the subjects may have been delicate they at least had the advantage of being substantive, no doubt part of my current thrust to avoid ambiguity in whatever I undertake.