Back in junior high with mom
Updated: August 20, 2012 6:19AM
I’ve often mentioned, most especially around Mother’s Day, how one quick sentence or action from one’s mother can spin a person back into childhood, no matter their chronological age.
I had that experience a few weeks ago, as I joined both my mother and my mother-in-law for the grand-opening festivities at their new home, the Victory Centre of Vernon Hills. I spent a couple of hours there to cheer on the Boss’s mother, who was one of the ribbon-cutters, and to applaud the completion of this lovely project. The local politicians streamed through the facility and gave speeches. The corridors were full of residents and visitors, enjoying the beautiful new building and grounds.
And what was my main memory of those two hours of my life, besides the ribbon cutting, which I ended up being on the backside of, not the front? That it felt like I was back in junior high, shopping with my mother at the grocery store, where she stopped every 15 feet to squeal with delight at every familiar face, chatting for what seemed an eternity and leaving me either hanging around in the background or taking short side trips and hoping that when I returned, the visiting was over. Which it would be, until the next friendly face popped up 15 feet further, down the cereal aisle. And so on and so on.
Now, I must confess, at my ever-advancing age, I found the recent grand opening situation both endearing and enjoyable. Harriet and Arlene, or as Daughter No. 1 who’s good with nicknames dubbed them, HarLene (spoken with a Chicago-style hard A), worked the room like pros, cheery hellos and greetings all around. Questioning the library lady about who could use the reading room on the Supportive Living side. Making suggestions about what should go into the empty planters in the courtyard garden. Enjoying the food, drink and music brought in for the celebration. Yes, it was HarLene in all their glory and I was just the tag-along little kid who every so often they’d realize was missing. The call would go out, “Where’s Patti?”, but then conversation would promptly resume and my MIA status was bumped to the bottom of the chat list.
Make no mistake, I couldn’t have been more thrilled to be the fifth wheel and watch them circulate their new home with delight and confidence. I am as fortunate as can be, with mother and mother-in-law as close as they are, and I do mean close, since they live next door to each other. My biggest problem, now that they both live so close, not only to each other but to me, is that they are full of ‘helpful’ suggestions on topics for this column, because in their short time here, they have managed to become as familiar with my town as I am after 30 years. Today’s HarLene hint is “Why does the VH pool close for morning hours after mid-August? Don’t they know that we seniors like using the lazy river for our water walking? What are we, chopped liver, aren’t we residents too?” I sense another column series brewing: “Hints from HarLene” Oy.
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