I was in a foul mood when the phone rang that Sunday afternoon. No caller ID for me in 1993; I answered it.
“Hi honey! How are things?” My mother. Crap.
“Hi Mom. Good, how are you?”
“Are you sure you’re good? You don’t sound like yourself.”
“I’m fine. Really. How are you?”
Off she went, chirping about my brother’s upcoming wedding in New York (I was living in Southern California), gushing over the grandchildren’s last visit, boasting her ongoing Bridge conquests, lamenting a difficult knitting pattern on her latest sweater, chatting up a recent dinner she and my dad had hosted. I tsked and aahed, feigning interest but hoping her standard 3-minute timer was set and we were almost done. (Mom was well trained by Ma Bell and shrewd enough to avoid the inflated long-distance charges back in the day.)
But sure enough, she circled back and zeroed in.
“So, why so glum? What’s the matter?”
“Nothing’s the matter. Everything’s fine.” Of course she could hear my gritted teeth.
“Well, do you have a dress picked out for John and Nancy’s wedding? It’s going to be a beautiful day. Why don’t you buy yourself a new one for the special occasion?”
“No, Ma, I’m broke – busted budget with the flight. I’ll probably borrow one.”
“Oh. Ok. What did you do this weekend?”
“Nothing. I had two tickets for the Dodgers today but had to give them away because I couldn’t find anyone to go with me.”
“That’s too bad. Aren’t any of your friends around?”
“I don’t think so, Mom! They’re all busy.”
“Why don’t you go outside and go for a bike ride? I’m sure it’s another gorgeous day there, right?”
“My bike is flat – I need a new tire.”
Awkward pause. She was trying so hard but I remained stubborn, entrenched in my petulant pity party of one.
“Susan, what are you doing right now?”
“I’m watching a movie.”
I looked at the tv guide. “Only the Lonely.”
At that, my mom threw her head back and burst out laughing. And didn’t stop. I couldn’t help but join in. Wow, it felt good to laugh.
Once we finally caught our breath, Mom said, “Now do you see how silly you’re being? My goodness. Get out of that apartment and find a friend or just get some fresh air.”
“Ok, Mom. Good idea.” I had to chuckle as I dragged myself outside and headed to the beach. I still chuckle every time I remember this call. Classic Betty.
Thanks, Mom, for showing me how to laugh at myself, how to work hard and play well, how to enjoy my family and friends, and how to get the most out of all the riches life has to offer. I’m sure you’re resting in peace – you deserve it. Xoxoxo