Mother’s Day 2016 finds my mom in a nursing home suffering from the early stages of dementia and me getting over some serious health problems that have been plaguing me since last October. I’ve been thinking about my mom and sharing memories with friends this weekend. I have two favorite mom characters from stories, Stella Solomon, from “Sweeter Than W(h)ine,” who is loosely based on my mom, and Regina (Reggi) Drake Crabtree Woodward, from my alter ego, Vi LaNance’s, upcoming story, “Devil in Disguise.” Reggi isn’t anything like my mom, but I like her character, who is a cross between Emily Gilmore (“Gilmore Girls”) and Rae Woodard (“Ryan’s Hope”).
Here’s a scene from “Sweeter Than W(h)ine”, which is based on something that happened when my husband and I went to my parents’ house for dinner.
“Okay, are you coming in or not?” Dina called from the kitchen.
Rafe looked up from the Patrick O’Brian book he was reading. “Yeah. I’ll be there in a second.”
Dina walked slowly into the living room, where Rafe sat on her sofa. She and her mom were cracking up, and Rafe didn’t know why. Dina was probably remembering something funny the peerless Jay Galloway had said, Rafe thought sarcastically. That usually made her laugh at the strangest times.
“What’s so funny?” he asked.
“She was talking to Schmoopie, y’know,” Dina said, when she’d finally finished laughing. “I have his cat food all ready, but he’s not ready to eat yet, I guess.”
Rafe tried to look mad, but he gave in and chuckled, too, especially when he saw Schmoopie stroll into the kitchen.
“I’m starting to think Jay’s date had the right idea,” Stella Solomon said, looking out the window and frowning. “It’s really coming down out there.”
Herman Solomon looked out, too. Rafe heard cars trying to negotiate the side street near Dina’s condo.
“I guess we’d better eat fast,” Dina said.
They rushed through the blessings over the candles, bread and wine, and tried to eat as quickly as they could. Rafe had almost forgotten how much fun Friday night dinners welcoming the Sabbath could be…
Later, the power goes out and Dina invites her parents and Rafe to stay overnight so they decide the entertainment will be playing the piano and singing…
She walked through the house, but her knee started to hurt. Fortunately, she located some flashlights and flameless candles. “Looks like we’ll be singing after all.”
“That sounds good,” her mom said.
“After that, I could read you all some of the book I’m reading,” Rafe said.
Dina’s mom gave him an approving smile. “Sounds like a plan.”
Dina played her battery-operated radio, and they listened to details about the blizzard.
The flashlight illuminated Dina’s piano and sheet music. Rafe sat next to her on the piano bench, and her mom and dad sat on the couch. She felt comfortable having him there; safe.
It was a magical night with the snow falling and swirling around outside and the four of them snuggled inside next to the piano. She played “Beyond the Sea” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street.” Rafe joked about there not being any sunny side of the street with all the snow.
The piano playing went on, with Dina and her mom taking turns playing. Dina’s mom and dad danced to a few of the songs she played and Schmoopie stopped in to watch.
And here’s a scene from “Devil in Disguise,” by Vi LaNance
Regina leaned back in her chair at Bertha Blues Bakery, studying Dex Finney, feeling like a sixteen-year-old in the throes of her first crush again. Dex’s hair and beard stubble were gray, but he still had twinkling dark eyes and the ability to make her feel warm all over despite the frozen temperature outside.
She warned herself to keep things light as Dex sipped his espresso. She took another drink of her mocha latte and a small bite of the gingerbread muffin she’d ordered. Dex reached across the table and touched her hand. The gesture made her just a little bit warmer, but she resolved to stay as cold as the icicles outside the bakery’s window. She wasn’t sixteen anymore—closer to sixty.
“What happened to the girl who was going to pilot her own plane?” Dex asked.
Reggi watched thoughtfully as Dex took a bite of blueberry cheesecake. “She grew up. She got married. Twice. I thought my first husband would be my prince. I ended up broke with a child to raise. I vowed that my daughter would never have to live down by the docks because of a man.”
“What if she meets a man she doesn’t work with and he hurts her? That no-dating policy at work won’t protect her from the whole world.”
“It’s a start.” Reggi didn’t want to talk about this. “Look, Dex. Let’s just enjoy our conversation and get re-acquainted. We don’t have to talk about anything heavy today.”
Dex grinned at her. It was as if he’d turned one of the bakery’s lamps on and it was now shining on that smile. “All right.”
They’d been friends in high school, and not even that close of friends. She was not giving in to him.
My favorite TV mom has to be Lorelai Gilmore from “Gilmore Girls.” My mom and I are that close and like Lorelai, my mom has a great sense of humor. So Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you always!