Poem for Mom

Mom really wants me to share the poem I had engraved on the plaque for her.  Silly Mom, it is not a well-written poem, and I’m embarrassed to share it, but she loves it, and says that it still brings tears to her eyes when she thinks of it.  Although I had the poem engraved when I was 14, I actually wrote it when I was 12, so please forgive the lack of any resemblance to real poetry.  Here it is:

To My Dearest Mother….

Mom reminds me of a dove,

she always gives so much love.

She runs such a pure and innocent life,

my father says she’s a very good wife.

She treats me with tender loving care,

everyone says we’re a perfect pair!

I do my best to make her happy,

I try hard not to be too sappy.

I look up to her as if she’s a cloud,

of me I hope she’s very proud!

She’s hardly ever mad,

because I’m rarely bad,

’cause I hate to see her sad.

She sings like a bird,

beauty in every word.

She glows like the sun,

’cause she’s number one!

The Best Christmas Ever

Although Mom never really liked Christmas, she always made sure to make it special for Kari and me.  She started baking Christmas cookies the day after Thanksgiving, so the whole house was filled with the sounds and smells of the Holiday spirit for a whole month. We listened to Christmas music, helped put tinsel on the tree, and watched as Mom decorated every part of the house.   To this day, I still love Christmas, and that is probably due to all the effort Mom put into it each year.

One year was especially significant, however, and one the whole family regards as the best Christmas ever.  It was the year I was 14, and Mom decided to do something completely different that year.  She and Dad rented a cabin in Idyllwild so that we could spend the Holiday away from all the usual hustle and bustle.

Actually, with all the planning, prepping and packing that Mom had to do, it was probably a lot more work than she expected, but Mom was excited about the trip, and to see Mom excited at Christmas was fun for everyone.  Of course, Mom had thought of everything.  Besides the food and presents, we also had a Christmas Tree, decorations, plenty of blankets and snugglies, and of course, games.  No trip would be complete without games!

After we were unpacked and wrapped in blankets by the fire, Mom thought it was the perfect time to give herself a manicure.  Yes, she even brought the fake nails and polish to the cabin.  Kari and I played games together while Mom sat still with her nails drying.  After I was sure they had dried long enough, I said, “Mom, let’s play Spades.”

This was one of our family’s favorite card games, and Mom loved playing cards (still does), so I was surprised when she said, “Oh, I think I’ll just sit here and watch you play.”  I was immediately suspicious, and Mom had an odd expression on her face, like she was trying to hide something.

“What did you do?” I asked.  Mom was sitting too still.  Her hand hadn’t moved from its spot on the end table.  And then I knew.  “Did you glue your finger to the table?”

“How did you know?” She sheepishly replied.

Dad was already up and ready to come to the rescue.  “Oh, Honey,” he said shaking his head.  He tried pulling her finger up, but it was definitely stuck.

Reaching into his back pocket, he pulled out his Swiss Army knife.

“Are you going to cut it off?” Mom asked jokingly.

“That’s exactly what I’m going to do,” Dad replied very matter-of-factly.  “We can’t cut the table because it isn’t ours.”

We all thought he was joking, but then he really did put the knife to Mom’s finger.  Very carefully, he wedged the knife under her finger and began slicing, filleting the skin right off.  When he was finished, Mom had her finger back, minus a thin layer of skin, which left a perfect fingerprint on the table.

Relieved to see that Mom was no longer in danger, Kari and I burst out laughing.  No trip would be complete without Mom doing something very silly!

Christmas morning arrived and that meant presents.  I love presents.  I get so excited for others to open what I have given them.  And this year was no exception.  Knowing that Mom was planning a special Christmas, I wanted to make sure I could do something special for her, too.  I used to like to write poetry. It was all pretty corny and not very good, but Mom always made a big deal out of my poems, and liked them all.  There was one I had written about her, however, which was especially meaningful to her.  I had gone through a lot of effort and sneakiness to have that poem engraved on a plaque for her.  I knew she would love it, and I couldn’t wait for her to open her gift.

Her reaction was even better than I had hoped for.  As soon as she saw what it was, tears began to stream down her cheeks.  “Kim,” she sobbed, “I can’t believe it!”  I was so thrilled by her genuine pleasure at the gift, that I started crying, too.

Later, as we sipped hot chocolate and watched the snow fall outside, I thought about what a perfect Christmas this had been.  There had been snow to play in, lots of good food (including cookies), games, love, tears, and of course, laughter.

Tears of Joy

Tears of Joy

Mom loved her plaque

Mom loved her plaque

Grandma, Kari, Mom, Me, and Dad in Idyllwild 1982

Grandma, Kari, Mom, Me, and Dad in Idyllwild 1982

(Travel) Tip on Organizing Paperwork

Mom loves being organized.  It gives her a peace of mind and assurance that she hasn’t forgotten anything.  She has many different ways of keeping organized.  Here is her tip for organizing paperwork when planning a trip.

As soon as Mom has decided to go on a trip, the first thing she does is get a large manila envelope to start a “file” for that specific trip.  On the outside of the envelope she writes the names of who is going (sometimes she goes with more people than just Dad), the date, and the name of her trip (ex: Alaskan Cruise, or East Coast Tour).

Every time she acquires any paper relating to that trip, she puts it in the envelope.  This includes: to-do lists, itineraries, hotel information, travel arrangements, confirmations, and local information.  By keeping everything in one place, she knows right where it is when she needs it.  Although Mom makes computer files for each trip, she still prints the information and keeps it in the envelope.  She finds it helpful to have hard copies, just in case she can’t access her computer, and so that she can take the paperwork with her on the trip.  She also likes the fact that in an envelope, papers don’t slip out, like they might in a file folder.

Airport Antics

One of Mom’s favorite “I Love Lucy” episodes is when Lucy tries to smuggle cheese on an airplane, even pretending it’s her baby, but ends up eating most of it to try to get rid of the evidence.  We all love Lucy, but Mom especially loves her.  I think it’s because she sees so much of herself in the character.

Although Mom has never smuggled cheese, some of her antics at the airport are very “Lucy-esc.”

Mom loves carrying a large purse while traveling, because she can fit so much stuff into it, and Mom believes in being prepared for anything.  Her large capacity purse has been very convenient for me, too; whenever I don’t want to hold something, Mom is a good sport about putting it in her purse for me.   Everything seems to find its way to Mom’s purse.  Even food.

I have never liked eating on an airplane.  In the days when they used to give meals on domestic flights, Mom always wanted to sit next to me because she knew she’d get all of my food in addition to hers.  Anything that she could easily store and save for later went right into her purse.  During a lay-over one time, I asked Mom for my book, which, of course, was in her purse.  When Mom handed me my book, I saw it was all slimy and gooey, and not just on the outside, but also smashed into the pages.

“What is this all over my book?”  I asked her.  She was puzzled, too, and worried that the goo might be all over the inside of her purse.  She investigated.  Sure enough, all the contents were contaminated with slimy, disgusting goo.  Finally, with a sheepish grin, Mom reached to bottom of her purse and pulled out a banana skin.  Not a whole banana, just the skin.  The rest of the once ripe and perfect fruit had been pulverized in her purse and turned into goo.

Of course, Mom thought this was funny.  I tried to clean off my book, but I couldn’t get rid of the banana smell (I hate bananas).  I guess whenever I read the book I made a funny face, because whenever Mom saw me with the book, she started giggling again.  I decided to hold onto my own things from then on.

Another instance regarding fruit in an airport happened when I lived out of state and had flown home to visit the folks.  Mom and Dad live on several acres of land and have a couple hundred avocado trees.  They know how much I love avocados, so as I was packing to go back home, Dad entered my room with a bag full of avocados he had just picked for me.  What a treat!

I tucked avocados in all the edges of the suitcase, making sure to get them all in.  When we arrived at the airport, Mom walked with me to the check-in counter.  As I set my suitcase on the scale, the attendant said, “Sorry, your bag is overweight and we’ll have to charge you $50.”  What?!

I asked her to give me a moment so that I could move some things from the luggage to my purse (like mother like daughter).  Mom quickly got to work, helping to transfer avocado after avocado to my purse.  When the purse was full (there were still a lot of avocados in the suitcase, but surely we removed enough…), we zipped up the luggage and stepped back to the counter.

“There,” I said a little smugly, my shoulder already sagging under the extra weight in my purse, “that ought to meet the weight requirements now.”

“Still over the weight limit,” the attendant declared very matter-of-factly.  The woman had no sense of humor, but Mom did, and she started to think this was funny.  Giggling, Mom grabbed my suitcase off the scale, and opened it again.

“I don’t have any more room in my purse,” I whispered to Mom.  But Mom knew what to do.  She started shoving avocados in her pockets.  One went in each jacket pocket, one in each pants pocket (Mom loves clothes with pockets!).  But she was running out of space, too.  She tried to fit one more in her pants pocket, but the pocket wasn’t quite big enough.  The avocado dropped out and rolled across the floor.

That’s when the giggle fit hit Mom.  And of course, the more she giggled, the less coordinated she was.  She doubled over, unable to move for a moment, shaking in silent laughter.  I braved a glance around and saw that the entire line of waiting customers was staring at us, with less than supportive looks.  Mom finally got her giggling under control, and bulging with avocados from every crevice, she announced that she thought my case would be light enough now.

She was right.  The attendant checked me in, practically glaring at me.

I waved a final goodbye to Mom, whostruggled to wave back without dropping any more avocados.  As I saw her cradling avocados in her arms, giggling again, I thought of Lucy with the cheese, and realized (not for the first time) that Mom was perhaps the silliest person I knew.

Fortune Cookie

Sometimes Chinese fortune cookies are very profound and hold some truth to them.  Other times we just wish they did.

Our family often went out to lunch on a Sunday afternoon.  It was a nice treat for Mom, who usually cooked all the meals at home.  I guess she really needed the break on one particular Sunday, because she was having a hard time with everything.  It was one of those days.  She tripped (no surprise there) and nearly fell, being saved by the quick reflexes of Dad.

Then as we were about to enter the Chinese restaurant that Mom had chosen, she somehow dropped her purse right in front of the door, and, because it was Mom, the contents spilled all over.  And naturally, this happened right in front of a restaurant full of curious diners.  Dad to the rescue again.  He helped her retrieve all her belongings, and then made sure he zipped up the purse before handing it back to her.

Once seated at the table, I thought we might be safe from any more of Mom’s antics.  Wrong.  Mom picked up the teapot, looked inside and decided that the tea needed stirring before she would pour it.  But rather than stir the tea with a spoon, or even a chopstick, like a normal person, Mom thought it would be faster and just as effective to stir the pot by shaking it.  Wrong again.  We all just stared in bewilderment as we watched Mom pick up the teapot, look inside and then shake tea all over the pretty tablecloth.  She had forgotten about the spout.  Tea went everywhere.

Of course, Mom thought it was hilarious, and couldn’t stop laughing.  The rest of us kept an eye on her for the rest of the meal, careful to not let her do anything that might result in more messes on the table, which just incited more giggles from Silly Mom.

Finally, the end of the meal arrived with our fortune cookies.  Mom opened hers, read silently, and then started shaking, her face turned red, and she looked like she would explode.  Unable to articulate what was so funny, Mom handed her fortune to Dad to read.  This was definitely a case of the fortune being something that Mom might wish for, but knew in her heart was not going to come true.  It read:

“You will have better luck in the spring.”

AAA to the Rescue

Cautious and thoughtful by nature, Dad has always believed in being prepared and covered for any contingency.  He is amply insured in every way possible, and he has always been a AAA member.  Being married to Mom, that is a very good thing.  Mom has made sure that their AAA membership does not go unused.  I think she likes to keep them on their toes, and throw in a few unusual circumstances, just to make sure AAA knows how to handle every type of situation.

Mom helped out with one young man’s training while we were visiting Aunt Jessie in Northern California one summer.

We had spent a long day driving our van up to see one of our favorite aunts, and Mom must have been so happy to see her that she was distracted enough to leave the van door open all night long.  When we all piled in the van the next morning, ready to head off for a day of fun, the van wouldn’t start. The battery was dead from the overhead light being on all night.

Not to fear, AAA will be here!  The young employee arrived and jump-started the van.  “You should let the engine run for about 25 minutes before you go anywhere,” he informed Mom.  She agreed to follow his instructions, and he drove off with a wave.

We all started to head inside to wait the required 25 minutes, but Silly Mom, acted out of habit, and didn’t think as she locked the driver’s door and closed it.  The moment she heard the door shut, however, she realized that the engine was running, which meant the keys were in the ignition, and all the doors were locked.

Mom quickly called AAA again, asking for them to send someone out to open the locked van.  She secretly hoped they would send someone different, just so she didn’t have to face embarrassment if the same man had to come twice in a row.  “We have someone in your area,” the operator cheerfully announced to Mom.  Great.

Of course, my sister and I were laughing the whole time Mom was on the phone.  Her cheeks were turning red, and she giggled a lot…a sure sign she was embarrassed.  We just sat back and enjoyed the show.

A couple of minutes later the same man arrived, with a rather quizzical look on his face, not quite sure what to make of Mom.  He tried to jimmy the door open, but couldn’t do it.  “I’ll have to call in to the office for help,” he proclaimed.  Mom’s grimace said it all….great.  The technician spoke with the office, explaining the situation, needing advice on how to open this type of van door.  Every time he explained our predicament to someone else, Mom grew more and more fidgety, and Kari and I enjoyed the show more and more.

Finally receiving the necessary advice, our helper got the door open.  We all cheered at his success and promised we wouldn’t let Mom close the door again.  He shook his head, saying, “I’ve never heard of anything like this ever happening before!”

He just hadn’t met someone as silly as Mom before.