My mother is head over heels in love! I really can’t believe it. She’s a 77-year-old widow, who never thought she’d find fulfillment in comparison to the memory of my father. Her constant gushing about her new love is proof she was dead wrong. I have become a master at nodding my head and pretending I haven’t heard the same stories she keeps repeating. Am I jealous or upset that she’s directed this tremendous affection away from my dad? Nope, not one bit, and I’ll tell you why: It just so happens that she’s in love with an inanimate object—yes, she’s in love with the state of Florida. Holy shit, has she turned 100% Florida. Her blood type went from O-positive to Tropicana, and flea market bargains have replaced Bloomingdale’s private sales. Sorry, Jerry, but Del Boca Vista’s got nothing on my mother’s gated, golf community. Apparently it has the best sliced nova and omelette station this side of the Mississippi. It must be true, since she and all her friends agree that “even the fancier communities don’t have food as good as ours!”
After her recent stay with me in New Jersey for a week, I am armed with useless tidbits of information that may never help me win on Jeopardy but can help me understand her deep devotion to her adopted home state. I didn’t receive a trophy for Most Improved Golfer, did you? Oh, but I was birthed by the woman who did receive it at the closing luncheon. And, I never went to an invitation-only canasta day at a club, but I bet you can guess who goes to many. And, how about those Catskills comedians who perform at country club dinners? “I have never laughed so hard. We were just splitting our sides.” I wanted to tell her that I bet Amy Schumer’s last Netflix special was funnier, because something tells me that old Jewish guy doesn’t tell too many pussy jokes.
Nobody has better friends than she does, too. If I close my eyes, it’s as if my fifteen-year-old daughter is telling me about her clique. “The girls and I couldn’t believe how reasonable the subscription for our theatre program was.” “I didn’t get invited to Lobster night. It’s hard to be a widow here.” “Marsha is my best friend. She does everything for me. Her kids don’t visit her much. It’s terrible.” I’m actually really happy that she has very close friendships in spite of the frivolous banter that goes along with it. I’m even happier that she has a golf cart with cute awnings and her name emblazoned on the side. It brings back good memories of me driving my nana’s cart before I had my license—and before the days when club members got suspended from the card room if their grandkids broke club rules. “Barbara has some nerve letting her grandson drive her cart on the streets,” my mom said. I guess it’s okay that her own grandson smoked pot on her lawn, though, since she didn’t know about it.
During her visit, my mother asked me what month it was. I knew better than to react; I just let her keep talking. She laughed as she said, “When you live in Florida, you don’ t know what day it is. It’s just like being on vacation living there.” She followed it up with more laughing. Only minutes before that, she was in my kitchen in one of her flea market house dresses reaching for the Puffed Rice cereal she asked me to buy her. The supermarket worker literally had to ask other workers where it was, because no one had ever heard of it. Just so you know, it comes in a bag, not a box. Perhaps that’s why I wandered up and down that aisle for a solid twenty minutes. When she left the kitchen to go get dressed, I noticed a sectioned pill container the size of a small accordion folder. I didn’t panic, because I remembered it was a full-week’s worth.
I’m glad to know that my mom is deeply in love, and I’m grateful to know that she has no need for marriage. It saves the headaches of prenups and a destination wedding at her section pool’s clubhouse. Thankfully my sister and I can sidestep the horror of being middle-aged bridesmaids forced to wear tent-like dresses from Eileen Fisher. Plus the grandkids can still share her bed when they visit. I do wish that someone would buy her dinner and take her away on vacations, though. Oh, wait, how silly of me—she doesn’t need to go on vacations, because she just told me that her life in Florida is a vacation. As for sex, I guess it’s hard to copulate with the Sunshine State. Thank goodness for that, because I would never want to have to say this to my kids: “Come change your uncle’s diaper!”
I dedicate this blog to my dad. You set the bar high. No man could ever measure up to the husband, father and quality human being you were. We all miss your humor, affection and loving energy that filled a room. We missed you at the seder last week. We even miss you when we are doing nothing but driving around in our cars. Love you, Dad.
*All names have been changed.
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