My mom passed away a few months ago, in August. I miss her every day, but this is not to mourn my mother. I’ve done that, so now it is about celebrating who she was. To give a small illustration of that I’m going to tell a story that happened about 15 years ago.
Mom was all about her family, taking care of us, being with us. There was no one she’d rather spend time with than her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
My siblings and I like to get together and play games. We’ve had poker nights or hours of 500 Rum. We also enjoy board games, especially trivia games like Trivial Pursuit. Mom always played too. She was good at cards, pulling out a full house when you thought your 3-of-a-kind was good or laying down 3 aces in 500 Rum with a sheepish smile. She struggled more with the trivia but liked to play because she said she learned so much during the game.
One night, years ago, we were playing Trivial Pursuit and one of the questions mom got, followed by the answer she gave, will remain with me forever because of the boisterous laughter it produced.
This was the original version of Trivial Pursuit. Mom landed on the science category and I was reading the question:
Where is the medulla oblongata located?
The answer is the brain. My brother, sister and I gave each other looks that indicated we all knew the answer so we’re just waiting for mom.
I watched mom’s face as she scrunched up her mouth and said “Oh boy” under her breath. She dropped her eyes to the floor as she thought. After about 30 seconds she looked at me and said, “I don’t know . . . Italy?”
The laughter that followed was unrestrained, and after her children’s heads dropped to the table because we couldn’t breathe, mom joined in. Soon all our faces were red from lack of oxygen. I looked at mom and she said, “I guess that’s not the right answer.”
I found enough breath to say “No, no it’s not.”
Bad jokes were bandied about like:
I hope to get to Italy someday to see the medulla oblongata.
I hear the medulla oblongata is beautiful in the spring.
Is that where the Pope sleeps in the Vatican?
When I was finally able to speak I said, “The answer is the brain.”
Mom replied, “The brain? I’d rather go to Italy.”
And the laughter started all over again.
Miss you mom.