Every year on my birthday my mother would call me up and say
“I wasn’t feeling so good 10, 27, or 30 years ago today” and then she’d reminisce about the day of my birth.
Well 37 years ago today I was in the car with my parents on the way to the Essex House to get dressed for my wedding.
I can’t say I wasn’t feeling so good but I certainly was nervous.
I was the first one in my family to marry someone who wasn’t jewish, something that if I wasn’t 31 and clearly over the hill my mother never would have stood for.
Although she seemed to accept that I was marrying dave my mother did feel it her obligation to remind me that it was only a matter of time before he called me a “dirty jew”
My in laws had been in town for several days before the wedding and the glaring difference between them and my parents really jumped out at me.
My mother was, let’s face it, like me.
My mother in law wouldn’t have said the word ‘shit’ if she had a mouth full of it.
My father and my father in law, a Methodist minister, got along quite well. They were both intellectuals and since my father had traveled through the south extensively he knew how to speak southern.
My mother and me, not so much.
My mother in law never felt that comfortable with me either. I was constantly saying things that would make her head itch.
I had no ability for small talk. She, on the other hand, could do 30 minutes on the weather.
I won’t say my mother in law got to love me because I don’t think she ever did. But she did appreciate my strong feeling for family.
When my father in law retired, since he had been given housing as part of his salary, they had no place to live. It was me that insisted that we buy them a house. For the first time in their married life they knew where they’d be living from year to year.
My mother in law wanted to love me. She loved everyone. She really was a good Christian. And she was grateful to me but I just wasn’t her cup of tea.
And I was no angel either. If I had my life to live over again, I would have been kinder. I would have let her win sometimes.
I remember one time they were visiting around Christmas.
I had been telling dave I wanted to give them $500. He kept saying $250 was plenty.
We were all playing cards and after a long game I won. My mother in law misunderstood and thought dave won and started cheering and patting him on the back. dave corrected her and told her I won.
Her face fell and she said “darn” ( I never heard anyone say darn before).
dave and I went into the bedroom to write the check.
“$500 ?” he said.
“Nah $250 is fine”
That “darn” cost her 250 bucks.
I’m ashamed of that now.