Seven days since my last post? Damn. I'm still trying to find a balance. The highlight of my blog-less week? Going to the casino with Mike and my mom. We didn't win big, but I think she had a good time. And when she's happy, peace is plentiful for her children. She's a kick in the pants, my mother, truly. She's very much herself, and that's often more than enough.
We picked her up at the train station Sunday morning. I asked if she needed to drop anything off at our apartment before we jumped on the highway and started the hour-long drive. Logical question, since she always brings us food (because you know, there aren't any stores around here). "Oh, no, just a poundcake and a bag of seafood for Mike, but that's frozen solid, I wouldn't worry about it." Of course she wouldn't worry about it! This woman will put a paper towel over a bowl of soup and stick it in the fridge "for later." She has tupperware, but apparently is afraid to use it. Mike and I looked at each other, turned the car around and deposited the perishables safely in our refrigerator.
Did I mention my mom speaks very little English and my boyfriend speaks very little Spanish? Whenever she sees him, it's "Hi Baby! Como esta?" and he says "Bien. Y tu?" and she says "Bien" or she says "Goooood". There might be a little of her asking about his parents, "You Mommy and Daddy gooood?" but that's pretty much it before I have to step in and translate. When they're together, I end up talking more than usual in two languages, and I talk a lot just in English, so it can get a little exhausting and confusing. My sister's husband couldn't speak a lick of Spanish when they met either. He's still not fluent, but he understands enough to know when we're talking about him. So really, there's hope for us yet.
We arrive at the casino and she heads straight for the slots. She's dressed to gamble, too: light blue turtleneck, black blazer, black velour sweatpants with a white racing stripe down the leg (no elastic on the ankle though, thank you Jeebus!) and khaki sneakers. (My sister was outraged when I described the outfit, but if she'd seen the other ladies at the casino, she would know that our mother looked like the cover of AARP magazine. Pushing 70 and Still Fierce!). She picks a machine, pulls out a twenty and starts working. We flag down a "wandering waitress" for a Vodka & OJ. Gambling makes her thirsty, I guess. No luck at these slots, time to move on. "What about your drink?" "Don't worry," she says. Sure enough, she finds the waitress and grabs her drink. "Let's walk around." Now, I don't spend a lot of time in casinos, so I don't know the rules, but I was under the impression that you couldn't leave the gambling area, drink in hand, and wander into the mall and food court. I was wrong. We walked by a cashier station, two security guards and more cheerleaders than I've ever seen in my life (there was a spirit competition going on) and no one said a word to her (not that the cheerleaders would, but maybe their parents would say something). When she was through with her drink, she deposited her glass on a wall separating the dining area from the shops. She shrugged at me as if to say "Someone will get that later." I almost expected to hear the words "They have people for that." The woman knows her way around a casino. How foolish of me to ever doubt her.
We had a nice seafood lunch and she told Mike (through me) about the trips we'd taken when I was little. Someone from her social club would charter a bus, Mommy would pack a bag and we'd be off for a few days. I don't remember whole trips, just lots of bits and pieces: Niagara Falls, Washington DC, Toronto. She still takes trips when she can. Since my dad passed away, she's been to Florida, Vegas, California and Atlantic City. She saves her money, books a trip and sometimes stays with friends. She's off to Washington DC with a girlfriend in June. Mike told me he thought it was great that my mom still travels and seems to live so well. I told him what she said to me once, "I want to have something to tell your father when I see him again." Daddy always did like a good story.