my mother is in the mood to love me right now. not that she doesn't love me all the time, sometimes i'm sure she could love the life right out of me. but right now she buoyed by the spring weather, photos of her grandchildren and the promise of a visit. yes, i plan to visit my mother this summer for up to 3 weeks, god help me. i will bury myself in the bosom of my ancestral homeland and pray i don't die of exposure. i plan to take my teenage daughter on a tour of all the historical sites of the maritimes - stand on battlegrounds and peer over ramparts. i will probably also need to be immunized to face the wonder that is my mother's refrigerator. ketchup that expired in 2009, mystery bits of food wrapped in tinfoil. my mother plays fast and loose with "best before dates." she tells me they are suggestions not facts. she is not deterred by mold or undercooking. i will sleep between damp and sheets and rest my head on pre world war 2 pillows. it will be grand and i'm sure you'll hear about
but this story is not about that. its about another time.....
my mother went on a trip to prince edward island with my sister and her friend. i was not there but i'm sure they traveled along with my mother providing on the spot commentary about the lack of amusement being provided. on the first afternoon, quite suddenly my mother had to pee and if i have not mentioned she is fantastically old and the general rule is never trust the elderly when it comes to holding it. my sister started looking for a place to stop. they came upon a house whose front lawn was awash with whirligigs - you know those little wooden folkarty things that twirl in the wind. my mother said, "look, pull over, there's a gift shop." everyone piled out of the rent-a-car and my sister and her friend walked around the lawn, admiring the items whilst my mother headed for the house. she tapped on the door and walked in. she was greeted, and my mother asked if she could use the bathroom. the women showed her to the washroom. after mom had finished her business she wandered around the place admiring the things on the wall. a ceramic cow took her eye, "why", as she tells it, "beverly would love this because she has cows." this, i should point out, is my mother's reasoning for all gifts to me. her gifts are often randomly odd and she says things like "well i know how you like french fries so i bought you this pair of plastic potato salt and pepper shakers."
my mother finds the woman and says, "how much for that darling cow. my daughter lives in alberta and she and her husband have a cattle farm. and by the way, you have some lovely things in your gift shop."
the lady says to mom, "this isn't a gift shop."
my mother and sister stories change at this juncture. my sister tells her part through gritted teeth, "jesus, mom went into someones house, used the bathroom and bought a cow off the god damn living wall." now, if i'm being honest and why wouldn't i, my sister did not use those swear words. she's so sweet she couldn't, but her cheeks do turn red and her nostrils do flare when she tells it so i'm inserting the swears i would use.
my mother's recall has her not fazed at all by urinating in an out of province private home. instead, she says "oh is that so. well, thank you dear for letting me use your washroom. now would you take $2 for that cow."
and that little cow still hangs beside my kitchen sink. it is as homely as sin but it makes me think fondly of the people from prince edward island and of my unflappable mother and her ability to put on a show.