Two days before Mother's Day, I called my older sister Fran and asked her what we were doing for Mother's Day for our 90 year old Mom. It was a ruse...unknown to Fran, her husband Fred was planning a surprise 65th birthday party for her on Saturday and I was instructed to "keep her busy and out of Braintree for the whole day so that party preparations could begin in earnest.
"So Fran, let's do something on Saturday...why don't you come down the Cape and we'll go to some yard sales in the morning and then we can have lunch with Mom and then we'll come over to my house and do some gardening...I need to transplant some things. We can sit Mom in a chair and she'll be happy telling us stories." Although I don't really like yard sales (but Fran really does) I thought this would be a carrot she couldn't resist. As for me...I really needed to get out and do some yard work...working full time, taking care of Mom and writing on Gather this spring has left little time for my gardens.
"Nope, I don't want to do any of those things. Why don't you come up here to Braintree and we'll have brunch and then go to Nantasket Beach for two hours and sun and then we can go back to my house and matte pictures", she replied.
"But Fran, if you came down here, we could take Mom to the ocean...she loves Plymouth Beach and it would be a good Mother's Day present one day early", I quickly replied.
"Nope, I'll be down on Sunday because it's my day to give her breakfast and her pills...I'll end up being there all day so tomorrow I want to go to the beach."
"Listen, I'll do Mom's breakfast and pills on Sunday...so let's pretend tomorrow is Mother's Day...and do something with Mom."
"That's good because my friend Lisa is doing a Mother's Day breakfast for her Mom and I wanted to go but couldn't because I have Mom...if you do her then I can ride down Sunday afternoon for an hour or two. But I really want to go to the beach. I'll pack the beach chairs and make a picnic lunch. I'll see you about 11 tomorrow morn," she said with excitement.
Good, the plan is in action. Shortly after hanging up with her, I called her husband on his cell phone and told him the plan. He was somewhat relieved but told me I had to have her back in Braintree at 5 P.M. No problem, I said. We're doing a picnic lunch at the beach...then we're driving down to Terry and Gino's for tea in the late afternoon....we can stop at some yard sales...and I'll have her back in Braintree at 5.
By noontime we had Mom packed in the car and off we rode...there was only one problem..."being Mother's Day" in Mom's mind, the beach was not where she wanted to go. "I don't want to go to the beach...I need to go and visit my Mother...did you bring some flowers...we need to spruce up her grave and plant some flowers". And so we spent the afternoon at Vine Hill Cemetary in Plymouth. Fran put out the beach chairs and we picniced with Gramma Ketch and Grampa and some of Mom's siblings.
Although Fran has the gardening gloves on in this picture, she really didn't plant anything. I had to stage this because I did not want her "foolin" with my new camera.
Mom was relaxed and asking me to read all the words on the back of the grave marker....as I read her name she laughed and said " why is my name on there, I'm not dead".
"No, your not dead yet...your just trying out the spot in the sun today", I said laughingly.
"It is a beautiful spot overlooking Plymouth Harbour and eventually I'll end up here if not out in the harbour by Bug Light...that's where Aaron is right?"
"Yes, Mom, no hole in the ground for him....I wanted him with the wind and the waves."
"You know Bob, IF I should die, I think I'd like to be cremated and tossed in the sea with Aaron."
"If, Mom....did you say "if"....what are you thinking...are you going to be eternal! Now that would really be something!"
The bantering conversation continued and Fran joined her in a chair along side her and she started reminicing about times long ago and Fran would ask questions to prod her on.
"My Mother was a beautiful woman with long dark brown hair twisted into a bun at the back of her head. I don't believe in her whole life she ever bobbed her hair or had a permanent. Even if Mama wanted to cut it, Papa would not have permitted it for he described it as "a crown of beauty". Despite the fact he was a barber, he honestly believed women should not cut their hair. Mama's hair was so soft and the reason why it was so soft and shiny was the daily brushing done by her children. When we would return home from school, each child, in turn, would have a choice, a 30-minute task or brushing Mama's hair 100 strokes from her crown to her waistline."
As Mom was speaking she closed her eyes and I could imagine the scenes playing out in her mind.
I looked at my watch and saw that it was 3:15 and we needed to pack up and still go to tea...ummm...how am I going to bring this conversation to a close.
Neither girl seems to be caring about the time...they are back in the late 20's and 30's....now how am I going to get these girls moving?
"Hey Mom...I was just thinking...want to pack up and go over to little Eddie's statue and place some flowers in his hand. Come on Fran...it's not far to go...just over the hill near the gardener's shed." And so we pack up beach chairs and picnic lunch and Gabby, Fran's dog and our gardening tools and drive a short distance to a memorial Mom showed us when we were young, one that her Mother had shown her when but a young girl.
This is a memorial to Edward C. Davis, a young boy born in Plymouth in 1860 who died in Munich, Bavaria in 1863. Eddie was stricken with typhus fever, an acute infectious disease, while traveling with his family. Beneath the statue of the little boy carved in granite are the words, "Not Dead, but sleeping." As we approached Eddie, I took some plastic flowers from a grave nearby and placed them in Eddie's hands as I had done so many times as a child. Mom smiled..."You do today Bob what I did as a child walking beside my Mom...though it be more then a hundred years, flowers for Eddie and for all children who pass before their parents deserve our devotion for they are God's little angels.
It was now 3:45 and we drove south to Manomet for our tea and pie with Terry and Gino. Quickly they put out the afternoon respite as I nervously looked at the time...no way, would we be in Braintree at 5 P.M. Nevertheless, we sat down and ate pecan pie with ice cream as Mom related our day. By 4:30 we were on our way north...arriving at Fran's festive decorated home at 5:47...over a hundred and fifty people were waiting for the "Birthday Girl"....Fred looked at me questioningly and I replied, "You've been married to her for forty-six years, is it any wonder I even got her here. She has a mind of her own and can't be hurried...you know that!
And so that's how we spent the Day before Mother's Day...and now I need to run...and celebrate it once more.