I zoomed up the highway from my downtown apartment and she got a lift through the quiet sidestreets of my hometown. She had a big smile when I got there and was waiting in the lobby wearing lipstick and a cream cable knit sweater. She had the tickets pre-purchased and a purse packed with white chocolate, mixed nuts, and two bottles of water.
A plump n’ perky assistant manager with curls waterfalling out of her tight ballcap ripped our tickets and pointed us down the hall. We passed a couple glossy-eyed teens holding mops and texting as we walked into the theater and had a quick discussion — Where do you want to sit? Where do you want to sit? Wherever you want to sit — before grabbing a couple in the middle of the red plushy tundra.
Now, my mom’s five feet tall so her legs dangled from the chair, her clean gray spongy-soled sneakers swaying like a kid on a swing set. We chatted, chilled, and chowed down on chocolate before leaning back for the start of the show.
My mom fell asleep in twenty minutes.
I elbowed her softly and her eyes popped open. She looked at me, laughed guiltily, and whispered in a mock-cranky tone “It’s past my bedtime!” She then watched a few more minutes before dozing off again. After a couple more elbow jabs, I eventually just let her go.
When the credits started rolling and the house lights turned up we put on our coats on and made our way down. “So what did you think of the ending?” I asked with a big smile. “I liked the way they wrapped things up,” she straight-faced back, holding the metal handrail and single-stepping down the stairs.
I drove her home down the quiet, wet-slicked roads, through empty intersections, past my old school, and the park where my sister and I had soccer practice. When we reached the house she smiled groggily, gave me a big hug, and said come back soon.
As I zipped down the highway into the bright city lights my brain photo-flashed back … to blurry images of late-night rides through those same empty intersections, front row seats at school plays, and cold wobbly lawn chairs sitting patiently on the sidelines at soccer practice…
Happy Mother’s Day, everybody.
Join us live in Toronto next week!
— Email message —
“hey neil: i don’t know what i would do without my mom. i decided that i’m going to give her the book of awesome for mom’s day. now that’s awesome!” – Molly