Ok, I’m back and done having that particular anxiety attack.
In my mom’s youth she had two brothers and a sister. She also had them in her adulthood, but right now I am talking about her youth. Her brother Mike had a paper route and would bring home tons of change that the paper route people gave him to pay for their papers. He would put it on the dresser, where my mom would promptly walk in his room and say “Hey look, money. He won’t notice if a few dimes are missing”. Lo and behold, when it came time to pay the newspaper people all the money he had collected, Uncle Mike came up a little short. I don’t know if he ever found out it was my mom or not!
The most scandalous thing my mom did as a kid was on her way to Catholic school in her uniform skirt, she would “hike it up” and show her knees and she and her friends would yell “BARE KNEES! BARE KNEES!” to the business people coming off the bus. She was a rebel! I had to ask her what it was they yelled, and she said “What made you ask that?” and I said “I’m writing a blog about you” and she said “Oh, sweet Lord”.
Her grandmother gave her and her brothers a nickel to go to the general store, and the boys bought candy and my mom bought seeds for her grandma to plant. Her grandmother was so overwhelmed, she gave my mom another nickel and said she should go buy candy. When I asked “So did you?” she just responded “I’m sure I did, my generosity only went so far”.
In high school for Home Ec., they were supposed to grow a plant and present it to the class at the end of the year. Needless to say, my mom did not grow a plant. So the day it was due, she took an onion from the kitchen that had sprouted limbs, stuck it in a planter with some dirt, and took the bus to school with her onion plant. Someone on the bus bumped into her and broke one of the limbs and made the bus smell so badly like onion that my mom had to hold the “plant” out the window for the ride.
When my mom graduated high school, she did what everyone else’s mothers do and became a nun. Picture Julie Andrews from The Sound of Music.
One time the choir nun complimented the sopranos, and my mom took it very personally and thought she must be the greatest singer on earth, so after choir practice she was supposed to go under the chapel to the cooler and get the flowers for the chapel. High on her praise for being a great singer, she was singing at the top of her lungs while the chapel upstairs was filling up. They finally had to send someone down to tell my mom she was supposed to be in the chapel, and she walked in to a room filled with people who had heard her arias.
For her audition for the choir, my mom was a nervous wreck. She knew the girl who went in a few people ahead of her, so she said “Cathy, what did they have you do?” and Cathy showed her an entire routine with dance steps and a popular song and my mom was horrified and desperately trying to learn it. When she got into the audition room, they had her sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”.
She would hide in the laundry room where there were rows of metal shelves, and she would crawl into a shelf and take naps. There was also a tunnel underground at the convent, and my mom found a stray dog and kept him down there, to which an older nun, absolutely horrified, said “Sister! You’ll get rabbi’s!”. And no, I didn’t misspell rabies. She actually said rabbi’s!
My mom was the leader of her class for petitioning (when you decide whether or not you are going to be a life long nun or not), and they were told that they had to lay on the floor face down until the Mother Superior knocked on her desk. My mom heard the knock and she stood up, only to look down and see 27 other girls still laying face flat. So she kicked the girl next to her, who stood up, looked around, and dropped back to the floor. My mom looked at the Mother Superior, who nodded, indicating my mom did the right thing, so my mom kicked the girl next to her again!
One time Sister Donald Mary drove my mom to the breaking point with her busy body nosiness and bossiness, and my mom got so fed up that as she got into the elevator, she turned to look out the doors at Sister Donald Mary and she said “Donald Mary, go to Hell” JUST as the doors shut. That was the only time IN HER LIFE she has told someone to go to hell. To this day, my mom says “What a terrible thing, I never should have said that!”
Fast forward to the future where my mom married my Jewish dad, and they went suit shopping for him. There was a men’s store near where I was working at the time, so they went there. Five steps into the store and it was clear they were the wrong persuasion – they were the only white people there and all the suits were purple, gold and orange. My dad “turned whiter than we already are” and my mom, sensing his discomfort, proceeded to egg him on and go further into the store and suggest different colors that might look becoming on him. In that same vein, my mom MUST come up with huge April Fool’s jokes every year. I have finally convinced her to leave me out of it because I get so damn traumatized, but her best one ever was when she randomly called people and said “Hey! Where are you? I’ve been waiting at the restaurant, you’re still coming, right??” and EVERY SINGLE PERSON fell for it. My aunt said “Yes! Of course I’m coming! I’m running late! Um, I’ll be right there, where are you again?” and my mom said “You know, that restaurant you suggested”. My aunt said “Of course, umm, I’m on my way, I was just running late.” She got about 3 other people with that same joke!
When my brother was a teenager my mom decided he was too much of a slacker to amount to anything, and went off to find him a trade. She tried to apprentice him off to a shoe repairman. Luckily, it didn’t work, and now my brother is a lawyer. To be fair, he was a rebellious teen. I think I’ve mentioned the picture of him peeing on the sign that said “Congratulations David Lindner, National Merit Finalist”.
My mom babysits my nieces and every summer she has a project. One year it was the Olympics. She got all the neighborhood kids, they each represented a county, they came up with elaborate costumes, they had events, opening ceremonies, the whole nine yards. All led by my mom. It was so elaborate it took the entire summer to prepare. Another time she helped my nieces create a carnival where they raised money for Rescue Village.
When I was 9 a friend slept over at my house and we made cookies, and one of us threw some flour at the other. That started an epic flour fight which my mom completely encouraged and took pictures of, then sent us to the neighbors to show ourselves covered in flour. She cleaned up the entire kitchen.
We live near what used to be a fairly popular amusement park. My mom drove by one time and saw a bunch of people camping in the parking lot. She went to find out what they were doing, and it was some sort of *thing*, I don’t even remember what, and the next thing I know, 20 people are at our house waiting to use our shower and refill their supplies. I can’t even count the times she’s picked up hitchhikers, or for that matter, people who were walking and not hitchhiking. She actually got to know the “regulars” who had to walk from Solon to Aurora (about 15 miles) because public transportation doesn’t come out this far.
She saw a guy with a “Will work for food” sign and provided his family with Thanksgiving dinner and his kids with Christmas presents. She saw another guy and told him to wait right where he was, she was going to find him a place to stay, and she went to a church (not her own) and found the priest and he drove around with her looking for the guy to give him a place to stay, but he had already left.
We were driving downtown once and passed a homeless person, and my mom stopped the car and made me take off my jacket, put 20$ in the pocket, and gave it to him.
Another time we volunteered at a hunger center and she gave our coats to a family that she was talking to.
She volunteered to clean the house of an older couple who couldn’t really do things on their own any more, and for several years she visited them daily, did errands, took them out, cleaned their house. Then the husband died and the woman went into a nursing home, and my mom visited her every day and took her out and was there until the day she died.
She’s had two extremely close friends die of cancer and was at each of their sides when they died.
She left the convent because she felt the Sisters of Charity of Saint Augustine were too selfish and did not do enough charity work and did not help poor children enough.
After the convent she lived with two roommates and had no idea AT ALL that they were lesbians until she came home and they had moved out together.
She used to have regular poker games with my uncles and male cousins where they would stay up gambling until 6am.
When I was 12 she took me and a friend to stalk the New Kids on the Block and did not give up until we were staying in the same hotel and met them.
When AJ and I first started dating, he would stay over at my house a lot on the couch downstairs. We both had really bad colds, and my mom came into the Family Room in the middle of the night and started trying to put Vaporub on AJ’s feet and then cover his feet with socks. AJ struggled and begged and pleaded, but my mom literally held him down and smothered him in Vaporub and to this day he is traumatized.
When my wrists were hurting so bad I couldn’t tolerate the pain, my mom sent me to bed and strapped bags of frozen vegetables to my arms. There was also a frozen bag of pumpkin risotto.
One time my mom was in the grocery store and found a dollar on the ground and she picked it up and put it in her pocket. There was a lady in front of her. As my mom was walking away, she started feeling guilty, so she went back and said to the lady “Excuse me, but do you have all the money you’re supposed to have?” The woman said “Yes”, and my mom said “Ok!” and walked away. The woman came up and tapped her on the shoulder and said “Was I supposed to have more?” and my mom said “No!” and they both went their separate ways.
My mom was in the hospital to get her appendix out, and she had to stay there a few days. She convinced the nurses on duty AND the security guards to look the other way while she hobbled outside to smoke. Another time she had to have her gall bladder out and was in horrible pain, and the doctor sat there asking every stupid question while my mom was doubled over in pain. When he asked “Have you had any trouble with your hearing?” my mom said “What?”. With NO sense of humor, he repeated the question. After three times, my mom finally answered.
At a concert we had really horrible seats and my mom told the security people she has asthma and sitting up so high was giving her problems breathing and we got moved down to floor seats.
That’s all for now. Just wait for Stories About My Dad.