Two Weddings and a Funeral: Part 1: The funeral.

The auspicious arrival of wedding fever was set to kick off at a preparty at my brother’s god mother’s house for lunch on May 25th a week before the wedding. In the Spurling family there was always a pre-party but in this case it turned out to be more of a wake. Sudden death, like overtime in a football match, is certainly something derelict mom thinks is an apt description for the last week of a single man’s life, but on this day it was as tragic as it was symbolic.

The Saturday morning started off like most of the others, up with Eva, breakfast and a pint of coffee for mommy dearest. When Chris stirred I went in to see if he had had a pleasant morning.

“How was your sleep in?”

“I have been counting, Babe has barked 56 times.”

“Babe is a morning person, we are not.”

“Fifty – Seven” was Chris’s only reply as he pulled the pillow over his head.

Eva and I wandered next door to see Hamma and Gigi. We played with Babe so she wouldn’t bark, and then Anna Laura and Sadie showed up to go swimming. I declined an invitation to join in because I had already decided to bake a paleo dairy free gluten free apple pie. I am a baking geek I know and so when they all descended on our little beach I retreated to the kitchen to whip up my dessert. Chris took Eva to join in on the fun, and soon most of the family was in the water, it was in fact a Bermudian tradition as the beginning of summer is celebrated on May 24th Bermuda day. Out came the noodles, the floaties, out came the rubber rafts, out came the kayaks and the swimming implements got bigger and bigger as each kid tried to out do a grandparent, while Anna Laura and Chris tried to make sure no one drowned, a kid or a grandparent. And then Piccolo my little dachshund got in the mix, barking and running his little roly poly body up and down the stairs, dreadfully worried about all his humans and their dangerous obsession with bathing in the sea.

“I am worried about his heart,” my mom said watching Piccolo run up and down keeping up with Babe, the Doberman who had a bit of an advantage.

“Whose heart?” Said Chris

“Piccolo, he shouldn’t be doing so much vigorous exercise with all that excess weight.”

“The vet said he should exercise.”

‘The Doctor said I should too.”

“Time to abandon the floatie.” Chris pointed to the teddy bear floatie mom had appropriated off of Eva who was crying.

“She should really have water wings.”

“Maybe, if you can convince her to wear them, she goes everywhere naked.”

My mother decided it was time to show off, so she broke out all of Babe’s water toys, which just drove Piccolo even more crazy. Meanwhile to appease my mother, Chris put Sadie and Eva in a kayak and was floating them around like twin Queens of Sheba.

My mother threw a Frisbee, it narrowly missed Chris’s head but I am sure if it had hit him she would have said it was an accident.

Babe bounded after it, effortlessly and with much enthusiasm. Babe and my mother’s game of water fetch was her favourite thing to do in the world, and here we were finally the first day of summer and Babe was loving it.

At some point Chris made the parental judgment that Eva was waterlogged, when her knees began to look like raisins and he brought the kayak back into the beach, wrapped her in a towel and told her it was time for lunch and left about ten minutes after Sadie and Anna Laura had left to shower and change next door for the party.

When Chris came into the kitchen, I looked at him and asked,

“What’s all that barking, why is Piccolo barking like that?”

I said unfamiliar with the regularly occurring summer cacophonies as I tried desperately to hang on to the vestiges of our mild winters, hence the baking of an apple pie.

“Oh your mom is throwing toys for Babe.”

“Oh, of course.” I answered and resumed the finishing touches on my culinary masterpiece.

“Where is dad?”

“He went out for a kayak.” Chris replied.

Chris rinsed Eva off and was watching a cartoon with her when about ten minutes later I brought her some lunch. I could still hear Piccolo barking.

“That’s weird,” I said to Chris.

“What?” Chris answered.

“Piccolo is still barking.”

“There is nothing weird about that, I assure you.”

“Yes there is, I said.”

“Look”

I pointed to the clock.

“My mother can’t possibly be still on the beach, she needs at least thirty minutes to put her face on.”

“Her face?”

“You know, her makeup.”

“Oh.”

“And listen..” I said.

“He has probably gotten stuck trying to climb a palm tree again. Let me go out and see.”

Meanwhile I had no idea what had been transpiring on the beach because I was elbow deep in almond flour egg batter and coconut stewed apples. As I wandered out of the garden toward the beach I dodged, chewed Frisbees, dog toys, sticks, and children’s floaties, discarded swimsuits and partially deflated water wings missing their pair. As I rounded the stairs I located Piccolo barking on top of a kayak at Babe who lay in the sand, understandably exhausted from all her running about.

“Mom?”

“Dad?”

I figured Mom had left to get dressed as she often will leave Babe on the beach, who eventually gets bored and comes home. And I figured Dad had done the same, and left his kayak pulled up on the beach.

I took another look at Babe from the top of the stairs.

“Babe, Babe!”

No answer.

Piccolo kept right on barking.

“Oh god, Oh no.”

I noticed she wasn’t looking at me, and then I surveyed the scene, instantaneously remembering my CPR training from age 14. It was at that moment I observed a large bowel movement next to her in the sand.

I ran down the stairs and put my hand on Babe, and tried to move her head. I stroked her fur, and all that came to me was “Oh Babe.” And I patted her again.

I stood up, picked up Piccolo and told him.

“Babe is dead, she had a heart attack on the beach.”

Piccolo was very upset. I ran up the stairs with him in my arms and brought him inside to Chris and whispered so Eva would not hear.

“Babe had a heart attack on the beach and she is dead, look after Piccolo and I will find my parents.”

He nodded, and I locked Piccolo in the living room with Eva and Chris and sprinted next door.

Babe was really my mother’s dog, she was home the most, fed, bathed and walked her, and they had a mother daughter bond, that she didn’t really have with her biological children. So naturally, I ran yelling to my parent’s house looking for my mother,

“Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom where are you! “

Out of breath I checked the shower, she wasn’t there, finally she emerged from the back with Anna Laura, Sadie and a pair of scissors, they had been half way through cutting Sadie’s hair.

Out of breath and high on adrenalin, I started half yelling half breathing.

“Mom, you have to sit down right now, I have bad news to tell you.”

She looked terrified and sat down, my sister then came rushing out.

“Oh good, you are still here, you sit down too, I said to them.”

They looked ashen.

“On the beach,” I said, “Piccolo was panic barking on the kayak. I ran out to see what had happened and…”

“Oh my god “ my mother said, swooning with her hand over her eyes.

“Babe is dead, she had a heart attack on the beach.”

“Oh, is that it?” Mom looked relieved.

“What!!! Babe Died” I said.

“Oh Phew” my sister said.

“What do you mean, phew?” I said about to pass out from the sprint I had made in record time.

“Babe is dead.” I said again.

“We thought you were going to say your father.” Anna Laura said.

“Does anyone know where your father is?” mom asked

“No, I said- I came yelling and I didn’t see him anywhere.”

“He went out on a kayak.” Anna Laura said.

“The kayak is on the beach, he must be back somewhere?”

“Let’s go see Babe,” My mother finally mustered.

“What shall we do with her?” I said pointing to Sadie who looked like she was about to burst into tears.

“We should bring her so that she learns.” Anna Laura said.

“Okay, I will get Eva too but we all need to remain calm.” I said even though I had unintentionally let everyone believe that Dad had had a heart attack on the beach by accident.

We reconvened on the beach around Babe’s body. Myself, Eva, Chris, Anna Laura and Sadie.

Mom bent over and tried to feel for a pulse.

“Mom, I already did that, she is gone.”

“Shall we do CPR?” Mom said

“No mom, she has been gone about ten minutes, there is no point, it was a massive coronary.”

Just then we noticed something on the horizon. My father, paddling back to shore.

Like all dreadful moments, when you can see something has happened but you can’t tell what, Dad thought something had happened to one of the kids but upon counting heads, he realized he was only missing a fury one.

“We can’t just leave her here.” Mom said.

Chris volunteered to get a wheelbarrow while we filled my dad in on what had transpired.

“How many valiums did you give her last night in the thunder storm?” I asked.

“Three.” Mom said. “And she had her pee pill this morning and her eye drops.”

“Too many medications.” I said

“She only has half as many as me” Mom replied.

“Did you give her your pee pill by accident, that would probably kill a horse” I said.

She ignored me and instinctively, like you do after you put your child to sleep, started collecting Babe’s toys which lay scattered on the beach, a testament to her last happy moments doing what she loved. She took the Frisbee and fired it in the air trying to make the garden but it got my dad right in the face.

“Jane!!!!’ Somehow the trauma of the moment had made my mother a perfect shot.

The drama of the moment had everyone else scurrying about.

“Jane, we need an old sheet or something to lift the body in.”

My mother left and returned a few minutes later with my father’s limited edition St. David’s landmarks, hand-woven furniture throw, a collectors edition item from the American Indian descendants of the Pequot tribe.

“You can’t use that to wrap her body in” My father yelled.

“Why not?” my mother asked, always ready to throw his historical interests under the bus, or in this case the dead body.

“Because,” my father stammered not wishing to say he didn’t want to part with the throw.

In the meantime, Sadie and Eva stood together looking over the sea wall at all the activity. Listening to them talk to each other helped give the moment some levity and inspired this blog post.

“Babe died.” Sadie said to Eva

“Mommy, why did Babe die?” asked Eva pulling on my pant leg.

I crouched down between them.

“Because she did a poo.” Sadie pointed at the poo.

“No, Babe died because it was time for her to go to heaven and become an angel.” I said.

“Poos go in the potty.” Eva pointed down at Babe’s body.

“We are not going to die, Eva, because we do poos on the potty.” Said Sadie.

Hamma and Gigi and Chris moved Babe into the wheel barrow and wheeled her back to their house, outside the gate to the garden where all the pets are buried and where Chris and I got married.

Hamma laid her body on the grass.

“Now we have to clean the sand off of her.” said Gigi.

“What! “ said Hamma, “Why!”

“Because she is covered in sand and she can’t be buried with a sandy face.”

My father sighed and went to fetch the hose.

“In a situations like this, you just do as you are told.” He said.

I thought by situation he meant “marriage” not “death.” I wondered what he would do if he could go back to his “sudden death” week before he married my mother. I know he attempted to delay proceedings but she insisted that they get married before the end of 1969. He waited until December 27th but now it’s been almost 45 years… forty five years of fetching the hose.

My mother affectionately washed off Babe’s body. I wondered if the next step was taxidermy, but then I realized that that was something only I would consider, and my dogs were small enough to fit into a freezer, Babe was not.

Chris stepped in and decided to dig the hole in the garden.

“We had better do it now before rigor mortis sets in.” He returned with a shovel and got to work.

“I’ll call the Jones’s and tell them we will be late.” We were always late but they deserved a warning that we would be arriving even later and with a large risk of spontaneous crying.

Mom was already crying and so Sadie went around and hugged everyone to make them feel better. Whereas Eva just wanted to know,

“Why is Daddy putting Babe in a hole?”

“Because after she died, she needs to be buried and then she will go to heaven to become an angel.” I replied doing my best. I probably could have done better if we had had more warning.

My sister piped up, “But you said you were a heathen on your blog.”

“I am a heathen but I still believe in heaven and angels… and fairies and ghosts.”

“Mommy what’s a heathen.”

“It’s your mommy’s nickname.”

We decided to go to the party and return afterwards to host a proper funeral. Meanwhile my brother arrived at the party and was told by his godparents the terrible news. He was shocked and devastated, devastated that the sister he lost was the one that didn’t talk back, and the one who couldn’t read or write blogs, and for a moment Babe’s passing took emphasis off the event at hand. The rest of us arrived forty five minutes late, the approximate time needed for Chris to dig a hole and the rest of us to argue about it, shower and dress.

And so my brother’s wedding pre-party became Babe’s wake, as the family, the wedding party and the soon to be “outlaws” toasted to her memory. Who doesn’t love a dog, even one that barks fifty seven times at 8am.

Later at the funeral, even Chris wiped away a tear for Babe, for the dog, who would never bark for the fifty eighth time. I played Taps on my laptop and read a poem by Lord Byron.

Epitaph to a Dog: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epitaph_to_a_Dog

It begins:

Near this Spot
 are deposited the Remains of one 
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
 Strength without Insolence, 
Courage without Ferocity, 
and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.

It ends:

To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise; 
I never knew but one — and here he lies.

A video of the funeral:

http://youtu.be/sy0tU3KxpcU

A week before my brother’s wedding, my mother had lost more than a friend, she had lost her last daughter, her final child, and when my brother was lost to the institution of matrimony, when he and Danielle exchanged vows she would for the first time, have an empty nest. My father was going to have to take Babe’s place in my mother’s affections, by peeing the bed, being spoon fed, stealing roast beef, and tearing up my mother’s decorative pillows, it wasn’t after all, far from believable. A few days later after Hamma was forced to go on my mother’s regular dog walk at Ferry Reach, I found Hamma hiding Babe’s collars and leashes and he tried to give me one of her dog beds, out of fear that my mother would have his initials embroidered on a new cover by LL Bean.

It was clear after the wedding, my mother would need a new focus.

Stay tuned for Two weddings and a funeral part 2.

Here is a note that came back from Eva and Sadie’s nursery the following day as Auntie Zoe had been informed by both girls of Babe’s untimely demise.

Babe died003

Babe was always part of the fun.

Babe was always part of the fun.

A Flask of Gin ( Meet the Fockers Part III)

Three weeks after our bridal shower the day arrived for Bridal Shower number two, hosted by the Bride’s mother, which was the bridal shower I thought would adhere to proper wedding etiquette as all showers I had been to at that point had been hosted by the Mother of the Bride. This one of course was the first I had attended that had been usurped by the Mother in Law of the Bride. I decided to look it up just to be sure, and where else would I go but to my mother’s idol’s website: www.marthastewartliving.com. As it turns out, I was wrong, but my mother was not right either. To Quote directly “ According to tradition, a shower should not be thrown by the bride’s immediate relatives such as her mother, future mother in law or sister since it would appear that they were asking for gifts. The maid of honor usually hosts. “ Well we all got that one wrong, but the gifts had already been bought and accepted so we were all, already offending common proper practice. To Hell with Rules! Bring on the presents, or parcels as it would turn out.

As anticipation mounted for the big Saturday night festivities, the uninvited male members of the family started to tease those of us who had cast our busy social lives aside, our usual Saturday night rendezvous to attend a teetotal dinner come shower, come Moroccan game night. It was exciting for me, as my Saturday nights usually consisted of putting a toddler to bed, cooking dinner and watching TV, the only difference from any other day of the week was that I didn’t have to pack a lunch for the next day, clean up, set my alarm, and I could enjoy a nice glass or more of red wine. Giving up the red wine and getting a toddler free evening and not having to cook dinner seemed like an even trade for me. But for my mother, alas, she would be missing a party somewhere, an invite turned down out of familial duty, a vodka tonic turned down with pure will power. This was not going to be easy for her. She promised she would be on her best behavior, a voluntary contribution tempered by the fact that she had already outdone the mother of the bride with her over the top lavish bridal shower number 1 three weeks before.

See blog posts Meet the Fockers part 1:

https://derelictmom.com/2014/05/23/meet-the-fockers-part-1/

And Meet the Fockers part 2:

https://derelictmom.com/2014/06/06/meet-the-fockers-part-ii/

She had recovered from her party and had convinced us all she was going to put her most gracious foot forward, it turns out on the gas pedal.

“ I will be the designated driver.” She volunteered while batting her eyes and coyly smiling.

“Mom, it’s a teetotal party, we can’t drink too much lemonade.”

“Think of what could happen if your sister drank too many sugary drinks.”

Visions of the game Nazi flashed through my head.

“I’ll drive.” My mother insisted.

This was mom’s attempt at generosity and grace. Then next week she would say it was someone else’s turn to drive home from the raging party, so she could swig a wine with out fear or inhibition.

On the night of the shower, Mom put her best face forward, got decked out in her Moroccan clothes she had purchased on a reluctant trip there several years ago. My Dad giggled as she sighed, without knowing what the girly night ahead of her had in store. Mom was not much of a girly girl, despite the makeup, the walk in closet and hefty credit card bill, she loved to shop, go to the spa, and entertain but if she was invited to a girly trip or a dinner party without men, she would decline. I don’t think she could think of anything worse than spending a weekend with her two daughters and now she was about to get a third one by marriage. Mom only really preformed for men and so an estrogen filled evening untempered by booze was going to be hard. I figured she would be uncharacteristically quiet the entire time. I wasn’t all wrong.

She pulled her car around to the front of the house and honked the horn. Chris kissed me goodbye.

“Before you go, give this to your mom.” He handed me a flask, which he had filled with gin and three cans of Perrier.

“Tell your mom to have a roadie on me.”

This is a reference to two years ago when I climbed into the passenger seat of their car to attend our Easter brunch, and found a discarded roadie- a plastic cocktail glass with red cocktail straw and slice of lime fermenting on the floor mat from the night before. At the time I was still expressing breast milk for Eva and was struck with both jealousy and amazement. To be nearly 70 and still be drinking roadies, ah that’s the life. And to this day I do not know how she convinces my father to drive home from every single event.

When I climbed in, I offered her a gin and soda. She laughed.

“We aren’t really going to drink it are we?” She asked.

“No of course not! Unless you think they will just think it’s mouthwash?”

“No, we better not.”

I put the flask and Perrier cans on the floor of the car, and laid back to enjoy the thirty minute drive to Paget, without worrying about a toddler or stop signs or traffic, that’s the life for a busy mother, thirty minutes of uninterrupted looking out the window.

Then it started, the continual pestering.

“What do you think they will have for dinner?”

“I don’t know, maybe a Moroccan dish!’

“Oh No, I hate Moroccan food.”

“Why do you have to be obsessed by food.”

“I hate Morocco.”

“What do you think she will be wearing?”

“Who?”

and on and on and on.

We picked up my sister and twenty minutes later we finally arrived. We were the first ones there. Rich, Danielle the bride to be’s step dad directed us around the back to secretly park as the party was supposed to be a surprise, but my mother had already blown that too. Maybe on purpose? Maybe by accident?

“Why did you tell Giles?”

“I felt he needed to know?”

“Why?”

“So that he could bring her a little bit late, in case we were late.”

“Mom, that defeats the purpose.”

“I don’t like surprises, and he is just like me, and anyway Danielle doesn’t know.”

“But you know, and I know that if Giles knows he will give it away.”

“As long as he doesn’t bring her on time then it will be okay.”

“Mom we are early. We are never early.”

“Great, it’s just going to be awkward without anyone else around.”

I open the door to exit the car. Mom yells,

“Wait! “

“What?”

“Aren’t you going to cover up the flask?”

“You didn’t cover up your roadie in 2012. No one is going to see it.”

“You never know! “ Mom said.

So we got back in and put the flask on its side underneath the floor matt.

“There no one will ever know.”

“It’s not like we drank it anyway.”

“Yeah but no one would believe you.”

We are ushered into the house through the back door by Christine, the mother of the bride.

“Hi Jane, thanks for coming” Christine says.

My mother grins and without any hesitation responds,

“Christine, are those eyelashes FAKE?”

Christine blinks several times trying to take in my mother’s version of “Hello, How are you.”

“Yes,” she admits blinking vigorously already defeated.

Mom- 1

Mother in Law -0

Anna Laura and I look at each other too bad we weren’t wearing black and white stripes as we may have some refereeing to do tonight. Thank god my mom hadn’t touched the flask, it could be worse.

Next, Christine said,

“What would you like to drink?”

I ushered my first prayer of the evening. “Please mom, don’t say wine, please don’t say wine.”

“Iced Tea.”

PHEW…

The dog barked and I thought, thank god someone else, and so the other women began to arrive, parking behind us in the backyard. Company at last.

And then finally, DING DONG. The doorbell rang. The Bride and Groom arrived, and we all conspicuously hid in the lounge before jumping out and yelling “SURPRISE!”

Danielle’s mouth dropped she feigned surprise. They were perfectly late, I am sure my brother had let it slip but I could not be sure.

Rich ushered Giles out the door as they were taking him to his own special stag party, an AA meeting, and dinner at Specialty Inn. I am sure my long suffering husband would have given up beer to join in but he was babysitting a toddler and a few Coors Lights at the time.

The men disappeared and Christine put her party hat on.

“Let the games begin!”

“Oh no, I hate games I thought.” I would rather watch my ice cube melt.

I had visions of passing life savers on toothpicks and playing pyramid but I would be spared, THOSE games from my youth.

“QUIZ TIME.”

Oh that’s not so bad I thought. Christine began passing out tests and pencils. She was once a teacher, and somehow that doesn’t surprise me. I had a feeling the family was about to gain another game Nazi.

I could hear my mother sharpening her pencil in the background, she was quiet but it might have just been the Iced Tea, or maybe it was her game plan.

“Our first game this evening is Guess the Bride.”

I flipped through the fifty page document of wedding photos where someone had painstakingly cut the faces out of each bride’s picture, and then photocopied masses of copies. I supposed she needed something to do last Saturday, but maybe cutting out famous brides faces gave her some sort of passive aggressive pleasure, I know it probably would for me. Maybe when Dani and Giles are expecting their first born, I will recreate the game with famous new moms, and cut the faces out of the likes of Kim Kardashian, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the rest of those skinny bitches who spend maternity leave in the gym. Ahhh just the thought gives me passive aggressive satisfaction.

I was always good at fantasying and by some miracle I won the guess the bride game, although I have never picked up an issue of BRIDE in my entire life. Full of pride and surprise I accepted my gift of scented bamboo reed diffusers.

“Thanks, just what I wanted, bamboo sticks.”

Cocky and self assured I started the next game, name the movie, the actress and the year of the bride pictured.

“I am really good at this game.” I said.

I was too big for my britches and came in an underperforming second or third. But then I realized I was not much into bride movies anyway, and Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride had been the stumper for me, not that I am running out to see it now or anytime soon.

“That was fun,” I announced.

“Next” Christine stood up to move on proceedings.

I looked over at my mother, she gave me a smug half smile, I looked down at her test sheets, 2 out of 50 and 10 out of 32. I wasn’t sure if she wasn’t trying or she really didn’t know.

“I am too old for this game.” She said with regality.

“Next,” Christine called the class of women to order.

“Next, we are going to play Pass the Parcel.”

All of the women already gathered in a circle looked around at each other with a pretend excitement.

I whispered to mom, “If you are too old for the quiz, then you must be about to be reincarnated for Pass the Parcel.” And I made a sign of the cross like the good catholic I was not.

Christine launched ITunes on her laptop and started the music, we were to pass the parcel until the music stopped. She admitted freely herself that she was attempting to recreate Danielle’s birthday parties when she was growing up, but I am thankful that she did not go as far as to play nursery rhymes. I had no need to relive my childhood as I was living Eva’s right now.

I wondered if Pass the Parcel was a passive aggressive way of pretending her daughter wasn’t really old enough to get married, or maybe she was just desperate for grandchildren. That would be a good thing, as my mother was not, she already had three and was struggling to come up with creative excuses not to babysit. If this was what Christine wanted to do on a Saturday night, then my mom’s future Saturday nights were going to be free to partake in many roadies to come.

As Pass the Parcel progressed the person it stopped on had to unwrap a layer and then could take the lollipop or present that was on that layer, but they would also have to read the poem and do the dare.

The dare, sounded risqué, but the poems certainly were not. As each parcel unwrapper read off their sentimental poem about mothers and daughters, my mother’s lip curled in distaste.

I could read her mind, “Cheesy” she was thinking.

Her secret hope that my brother might be gay so that she could get another son-in-law to outnumber the women in the family was not going to happen, but as long as there weren’t any more sober bridal showers in her future, she might just make it through the night. My sister and I weren’t sure. My mother was in denial, she was marrying off her son, getting a third daughter and god forbid more grandchildren, and now Pass the Parcel. We were all having flashbacks to 1985 or maybe it was just withdrawal symptoms.

Our side of the family had been neglected by the music wizard, but when it stopped on one of Danielle’s bridesmaids and her dare was “Share your most embarrassing moment.” The three of us looked at each other with a sigh of relief that the parcel had not landed gracefully within our grasp, for fear one of us caught off guard would answer honestly. Of course all of those stories probably contain a roadie or two and Pass the Parcel was not really the venue.

By the end of Pass the Parcel we were all worried that Musical Chairs would be next and my mother would end up with her ample derriere wedged on top of a younger, quicker Christine in a chair but it was not time for more games, it was finally time to eat.

My mother and Christine have one similarity they both are amazing hostesses, and Christine had a spread of Moroccan food that was twice as much as all of us could eat, all of us of course except for my mother.

Never reluctant to grab a dinner plate, my mother uncharacteristically hung back, then gave herself several ungenerous portions while Christine introduced each food group,

“ We have roasted butternut squash with cinnamon, Chicken and prunes, and a kale and chickpea salad.”

My mother looked like she was choking on a digestive enzyme as she chewed on a piece of butternut squash wishing it was a roast potato. And Kale, she never touched super foods unless it was a Smirnoff raspberry martini, and she could have used one of those right about now to make up in calories, what she was loosing in appetite.

The rest of us thought it was delicious. As we were finishing up dinner, the boys arrived back. I could sense my mother’s relief for male company. She began picking on my brother within two minutes.

“Why are you wearing that shirt?”

“You need some new clothes for your honeymoon, which reminds me.”

“What mom?” Giles answered.

“I have forgotten to give you, your Trousseau. Do you know what a Trousseau is?”

“No” he said.

People were milling about getting ready to leave.

I was thinking mom would be the first one out the door if it was going to get her home quicker and closer to that raspberry martini, but now that my brother was back she had threshold paralysis.

“Come on mom I said, every one is getting ready to leave,” as the other girls said their thank yous and goodbyes. I was desperate not to be the last ones here in case my mother tried to touch one of Christine’s falsie eyelashes.

My sister and I gathered her bags, and as I put them at her feet, she asked

“Do you know what a Trousseau is?”

“Isn’t it like some sort of hope chest?” was my answer.

“Wrong” she said. I was actually right.

And then proudly like she had won a game of jeopardy after loosing at pass the parcel, announced. “A trousseau is gift of clothing for the honeymoon.”

“Isn’t that for the bride?” I asked. Right again.

“It doesn’t matter, I can give one to the groom if I want.”

“Of course mom can do what ever you want.”

“A Trousseau is a gift of lingerie for the bride to use on the honeymoon.”

“You bought Giles lingerie for his honeymoon?” I had visions of Giles running around Venice Italy in a Chippendales outfit.

“I bought him clothes for his honeymoon.”

“Then stop calling it a Trousseau.” I said.

By this time the family squabble had distracted my sister and I from our mission to leave. My mother would not stop talking so we ended up outside with step dad Rich who was directing traffic exiting the back yard.

“I think I better back your car out of the yard for you because it’s tight getting out.”

He offered.

“Oh that’s nice of you.” I said.

“Or would you like to do it, I can direct you.”

“Oh no, that’s okay you can move the car if that’s easier,” I said, looking forward to a snooze on the way home and not wanting to volunteer to be the driver as mom had already gracious offered to stay sober.

“Oh we don’t have the keys,” I said looking through moms purse.

“I’ll go and get them from her.” Rich said

He came back dangling mothers keys as mom stood in the entry way still talking about Giles’ Trousseau to his mortification.

Anna Laura and I follow Rich around the house to the backyard, as we walked into the lawn area, I suddenly remembered our drive to the party. My stomached turned and it was not the butternut squash, I had remembered, THE FLASK. My first thought was “Thank God mom put it under the floor matt and on the passenger side.” But it was too late, Rich was steps away. As he was turning the key in the door, I thought about yelling something about a shooting star or a meteorite but it was cloudy and he would have thought I was crazy, so I just watched it happen.

Anna Laura climbed into the back seat and I returned to the passenger seat. As I opened the door treading very lightly on the floor matt while getting in, I was hit with a waft of something so pungent it was unmistakable, GIN.

Rich didn’t seem to blink an eye, he got in and turned the key and began backing us out of the yard. My mind was racing… Mom had laid the flask on its side under the floor matt and it had clearly leaked- proof perhaps that we had not in fact consumed the Gin, but would that matter in this situation? I think not. As Rich backed up the Perrier cans started to rattle around, I slipped my foot out of my shoe and tried to contain them as the little car made tight turns backwards and forwards out of their driveway. Finally brilliance struck,

“Smells like Windex” I said.

“Hmmm” Rich said.

“I think he bought it.” I thought.

Rich put the parking break on outside the front door, there was a slight tinkle of aluminum can on titanium flask but I was betting Rich was going deaf. I rattled my bamboo diffuser reeds hoping to mask the sound.

Mom climbed in and as she was driving home we told her about the flask. I fetched it from underneath the floor matt and sure enough it had leaked. I read the engraving on it.

“Awarded to Chris Worsick for outstanding athletic achievement September 1980.”

“They gave him a flask for athletic achievement?”

“It was England in 1980. It probably hasn’t been used since 1982.” I said.

“Shouldn’t have married an older man.”

“You tell Chris, he could have ruined the wedding!”

“No mom, that’s your job.”

“So what’s really in Giles’s trousseau- did you get him a thong too?”

Meanwhile, Anna Laura looked up Trousseau on her blackberry,

“A trousseau is a wine grape also known as Bastardo, it is also a syndrome- a migratory thrombophlebitis.”

“An over mothering syndrome or under grandmothering syndrome.” I said.

“Migratory Thrombophlebitis sounds bad.” Mom said.

“It is bad, you probably get it from drinking too much Gin.”

“Or from playing Pass the Parcel.”

We topped the night off with a night cap when we got home and celebrated what was just a precursor to the main affair. The wedding was only weeks away…..

Stay tuned for the wedding series of blogs: “Two weddings and a funeral.”

Happy Father’s Day

 

I don’t remember the last time I gave my daughter Eva a bath. I can imagine my mother doubling over in agony at the thought but on most days, Eva is sponged, ears cleaned out, hair washed and conditioned and on occasion brushed too but not by me, by Daddy. Sigh…

Daddy also gets her ready for bed, puts her diaper on, convincing her on some days that its okay to wear a princess diaper when she really wants a Minnie Mouse, then he takes on the protracted battle over pajamas, sometimes successfully convincing her to wear something other than her ladybird pajamas she grew out of six months ago, at this I am truly amazed and thankful.

Of course in these blissful moments of father daughter bonding mommy isn’t exactly kicked back with her feet up watching sports and drinking beer, she is usually cooking dinner, preparing lunch for the next day or cleaning up the mess from the day if not week before.

As it’s Father’s Day it seems like the perfect moment to mention that through the last two and a half years of parenthood, my husband has changed, from the parent to be who spent most of my pregnancy bewildered, and the first six months of her life thinking “what have I done,” not that was he alone in that.

Although he won’t admit it at first he didn’t want to be seen pushing a pram, but he evolved when he realized mommy was much too slow going up hill. Daddy and Eva have always had bonding moments, from their pram walks when she used to nap in the mornings, to bath time, and feeding the fishes. Through all of this, Eva’s daddy has struggled to keep his identity and continue the things he loves the best, which include primarily: Sports. In the last two years I have noticed that he has picked up one decidedly female trait. He has learned to multitask.

Take this picture of Eva and Daddy’s evening routine, and the video I posted below of Daddy in Mommy’s home office, watching sports on the TV, watching real time game feeds on the internet and entertaining Eva all at the same time. Ahhh Fatherhood.

Fathers Day

 

 

Given Daddy’s new multitasking skills, it came as relatively no surprise when Eva said the other day, with the determination and curiosity only a two year old could muster, “I want to grab Daddy’s pee pee.” Then she paused and added “Please.”

“No”

“Why?”

“It’s not appropriate.”

“But I said PLEASE.”

“No it’s not right, Daddy’s Pee Pee is HIS pee pee.”

“I will say THANK YOU.”

“No thank you.”

“PLEASE”

“No the answer is just NO.”

“Daddy, did you both have a shower after swimming lessons?”

“Yes.”

“Multi tasking needs a rethink.”

…..

When Eva was fifteen months, my friend Claudia asked me if Eva had started to prefer Daddy yet. I said No, and she warned me that it would happen and I shouldn’t take it personally.

I was probably days away at that point from what would become a full blown Daddy obsession. Daddy goes to work long before Eva wakes up but when he comes home from work she is usually at the gate to meet him. He barely has time to take his motorbike helmet off or put down his keys and she is in his arms.

“Daddy pushes me higher on the swings,” she says.

“Daddy is more fun,” she says.

“Daddy is bigger,” she says as she swipes at me from his shoulders.

On the weekends Daddy likes to wake her up because he misses out on that during the week. When I come into the room Eva says,

“Nooooo” sticks out her lip and says, ”Don’t sit next to me.” And swipes at me again.

Then sometimes when I pick her up she flat out tries to punch me without realizing that that would probably make me drop her on her head. Sometimes I wonder if she is precocious or if all two year olds are like this with their mothers- I am sure I was. I wish I could say Daddy was immune to her ill treatment but I keep remembering the week he went to work with a blood red eye, which looked like he had joined a fight club, but in reality he had only been swatted with Tinkerbelle’s wand for hiding the TV remote.

It’s hard to feel like you are anywhere near competent when your child is offended by your presence. To make matters worse I had noticed recently that my daughter was speaking with a decidedly British accent in stark contrast to my distinct American diction. Let’s just say she hasn’t inherited the mother tongue. Eva’s father is British as is her nursery teacher Zoe which might have something to do with it- that and the obsession with Peppa Pig.

My two year old bites me as hard as she can on the arm and then says, “Pardon me.”

Our situation reminds me of those women who hire nannies who can’t speak proper English and their kids end up speaking some version of heavily accented pidgin English- just my situation was in reverse.

If Eva ever does let me take her out without her Daddy, people will think I am the nanny and not the young hot variety- the aging spinster. No I will insist, I am not the nanny,

“I’m a derelict mom with a very “proper” child.”

I have noticed that some of the things Eva has been saying lately have a common theme,

“Daddies watch sports and mommies watch the news.”

“Mommy doesn’t climb ladders.”

“Mommies don’t go swimming.”

Hmmm maybe I need to work on being more fun?

But like most parents of two year olds I have learned that I must go with the flow, so the other weekend when I came home from my brother’s post wedding brunch, I didn’t bat an eyelid when I discovered Eva and Daddy eating chocolate and watching JAWS. Maybe, just maybe I had discovered his secret.

So last night when I put her to bed, as I do every night she said,

“Mommy, I love you a little bit.”

“Just a little bit?” I asked

“Yes, but I love Daddy a lot.”

“What about your grandfather, Hamma? Do you love him a little or a lot?”

“I love Hamma a lot.”

“ Are you sure you only love mommy just a little bit.”

“Yes”

“I love …. Bunny a lot.”

“What about poor mommy who loves you?”

Silence

“Eva?”

“Yes?”

“Do you want to go to the playground this weekend and Mommy will push you really high on the big girl swings.”

“Yes!!!”

“Then we can come home and have a chocolate after your lunch.”

“Yipee!”

“And if you are a good girl, you can watch some TV.”

“Yeah!!!!”

“Eva?”

“Yes?”

“Are you sure you only love mommy just a little bit?”

“Okay Mommy, I love you a lot.”

“And Mommy loves you and Daddy a lot.”

I turn the light out but as I was leaving, I just couldn’t help myself.

“But we are not watching JAWS again- that crosses the line.”

“Okay mommy.”

********

Happy Father’s Day Daddy.

Xx Derelict Mom & Eva

Meet the Fockers Part II

Continued from Meet the Fockers Part I:http://wp.me/p4b9qN-3q

In the days leading up to our bridal shower for my brother’s bride to be my mother ordered my father to the liquor store to buy wine then she added more food to the menu right at the last minute just in case there wasn’t enough. Truth there was always too much food and wine. My mother was into abundance not scarcity, even if there were hungry and sober for that matter, children in the third world, that was not going to keep her from going overboard and dancing dangerously toward wasteful and indulgent.

Then mom went to work making her famous Iced Tea, one cannot forget the Iced Tea. All of her preparations and rushing around, picking extra flowers, getting Alda, her long suffering housekeeper to polish the silver again and again. All of this over productive possibly counter productive busyness was distracting her from her chief worry. What was really bothering the hostess but that she was afraid to admit was not that the silver would not sparkle but that about half the people that were coming to the shower were teetotal and not only would they have the clarity to notice the smallest tarnish on the family silver they might just notice that the other half of the family were boozers. There wasn’t much of a middle ground, and to make it worse all of the teetotalers weren’t on one side of the family or the other and neither were the boozers. Parties were complicated but the wedding was going to be worse.

My brother, who suffers from paranoia over his mother’s hypothetical behaviors calls up the day before the shower.

“What ever you do mom, don’t say here is the wine and the wine glasses, then point to a jug of Iced Tea and say, here this, this Iced Tea, This is for YOU and point to the teetotaler.”

“I am not going to do that Giles, I have already made signs to put in front of the Iced T, I am going to call it AA Punch.”

“What.”

“Giles it’s a joke.”

“Mom you know I don’t get jokes.”

My mother has a propensity to be lavish. Right before the shower, she pulled out of her suitcase of lingerie. As she was holding up the skimpy bits of – I am not sure you can call it clothing, she said.

“I think I have over done it again. I have bought too many.”

“Perhaps” I say tilting my head wondering how you would wear anything that is called “floss” as clothing. My mother asked,

“Would you like one of these?” she says holding up a pair of thongs.

“To wear to the shower?” I say confused.

“No to keep.”

I pause, go in for a closer look, shake my head at my mother in disbelief, and looking down at myself, at the thong and then at her, I respond.

“Mom, I wear briefs.” I extend the ample tummy control elastic and let it snap back into position with a loud crack like the sound of a horse crop.

“I don’t think so. “

The day of the shower, looking forward to what the day held, I was overly ambitious and decided to wear a dress that was still too tight despite the singular pound I had lost running around the town over the last month. To rectify the bulges in the wrong places I put a sweater on to hide said bulges and to my surprise when I arrived at the gathering my mother seemed content in my choice of outfit. She really must be worried about the party if she can’t bring herself to criticize my choice of dress, my lack of makeup and messy hair, I thought to myself.

Meanwhile the boozers had a head start but the teetotalers caught up, matching each other drink for drink. The libations were flowing when the games got underway. My sister Anna Laura, aka. game Nazi, took over so my mother could enjoy a refreshing glass of Iced… T… Terre di tufi white wine blend, followed by an Iced Tea chaser.

First we had a How Well Do You Know Danielle quiz. The first question was, What is Danielle’s favorite movie. Instead of guessing wildly or putting down a predictably cheesy title like The Notebook, I scribbled in “Meet the Fockers” obviously subsequently inspiring this post. Although I scored a nort on that question I came out on top of her new family members and won a prize. I think it was a cream egg, my sister’s subtle tactic to tempt me out of my feeble attempt to divorce from chocolate. Such feeble attempts were almost always doomed if attempted around Cadbury mini and cream egg season. Oh well

The questions continued:

What is Dani’s favorite colour.

I wrote “Hot Stripper Pink” as a joke.

How did they meet?

Giles was dressed up as a clown for Halloween and Dani was dressed up as Pocahontas and as it is typical of American Indian’s to lack the enzyme that digests alcohol she developed a permanent condition of beer goggles and took home a clown and ended up marrying my brother!

How long have they been together?

I lost count of how many years they have been together but I can count the fights, the midnight phone calls, and brotherly lectures from Chris, they are the notches in the bedpost of any relationship.

When were they engaged?

I remembered this one- The Queen’s Jubilee. Although my brother denies knowing it was the Queen’s Jubilee part of me suspects my mother put him up to it. She was certainly jubilant when Giles got down on one knee and gave Dani, the diamond ring my mother had given him to give her. The same 10,000 dollar diamond my mother had turned her nose up to on Christmas 2003 when my father gave it to her unset in a box, leaving its fate, design, and ultimate owner up to her. She chose various settings, wore it a few times, decided she didn’t like it and put it aside for Giles. A cast off.

But Dani was smart and she took the diamond and made her own beautiful ring, sort of what she is doing to my brother, taking my mother’s tarnished diamond and making it her own. Got to admire a girl’s ingenuity and for that manner her lingerie, and she has plenty of that now.

****

After eating lunch on the patio we went inside to continue the refreshments, have desert and more wine for the boozers of course, and have Dani open her gifts.

The gifts were a blend of bowls and glass wear – the practical and then the sexy, mostly Lingerie. Why so many bowls I thought to myself before answering my own question. She would of course have to have something to fall off the dining room table and break, when my brother came home to find his bride to be in that number.

My sister had had the forethought to get my brother to pick out lingerie. We could tell immediately- it was the black ones, unfortunately not Hot Stripper Pink as I would have guessed.

When the combination of kitchen bowls and adornments met Lingerie boxes in various stages of unwrap, the curious men started to show up.

My dad popped in with that look of interest and fear that become men when they are outnumbered. Looking at the lingerie as it was revealed from its packaging

My father, Danielle’s almost father in law said ,“ Dani, you better not answer the door in that.”

Dani giggled in a funny, only for Giles, way.

Then Uncle Michael showed up for a reason I forget, he too looked a bit mystified at the collection of women in their best dresses and makeup sipping or gulping depending on what side of the divide you were on, teetotal or boozer, but regardless we were all outnumbered by wrapping paper and underwear, thongs to be exact.

After Dani had unwrapped my gift, the turquoise apron with a hot pink embroidered, “Spurling’s Slave.” Fortunately for me they were able to cover up the thread that started to form a “U” before Chris saved the day. See my previous post for the whole story

LINK…

When my gift was revealed my sister shook her head.

“ Does that underwear match the apron?”

“No,” I said.

“Why should we pretend she can be perfect, when her husband will never be! “ I thought to myself.

“Imperfection is empowering.” I thought, “Just wait till she becomes a derelict mom.” All that lingerie will be replaced by nursing bras and XL spanx.

After my gift had been received I went to fetch Eva from her nap so she could have a brownie too. I missed most of the final game, which was another quiz, this time it was, “What would Giles’s say.” All the ladies, mothers and friends, had to draw a question out of the fish bowl and ask Danielle the question, she had to guess what Giles’s answer would be, and then they would tell her the actual answer.

When you have a toddler you tend to miss out on the best jokes, bits of drama, or otherwise trivially important moments you never even knew were so important before you had kids.

It was getting risqué and Dani got upset and refused to answer the question, “What would Giles say was the moment you embarrassed him the most.” Which made us all think the answer was way worse than it was.

Bridal shower

It got awkward for a minute, the teetotalers got quieter as the boozers got louder. The teetotalers got closer to the edge of their seats while the boozers sunk more comfortably into theirs. At the same time, with the addition of a gluten free brownie my stomach had grown and distended beyond the confines of my too tight dress, so every so often I would hear a punctuating pop as the zipper popped open, it seemed to be in concert with Dani’s mom, who had taken to popping bubble wrap from the gifts, when the ice tea ran out, punctuating every awkward question and answer.

When the games and gifts came to an end, we decided to try the new bridesmaid dresses on the two girls, Sadie and Eva both 2, both too into dressing up, parties and brownies to be properly tamed. My mother had gone to great pains and deliberation to buy two flower girl dresses. There were more colour swatches, bows, dresses, consultations, web surfing, flying to Williamsburg to go to the fancy dress shop, that I was beginning to think it was no longer my brother’s wedding, but my daughter’s coming out party. Several dresses, and even more shoes later their outfits had been decided. Eva happily transformed out of her Saturday wear into her flower girl princess dress, the problem came when my mother began to worry about the white tulle getting caught up in brownie, chocolate crème egg or worse, grape juice box.

All the guests had ohhhed and awwwwed at the girls in their miniature half ballerina, half wedding dress miniatures as they ran around in full irate princess mode. After a few minutes, my mother tried to convince the girls to take the dresses off. At about the same time, Dani’s mom excused herself to go to the bathroom and probably collect her belongings for a swift exit. While she was absent, my mother’s determination to preserve the white tulle hit its peak.

“Eva it is time to take the dress off.”

“Mom, she doesn’t know what time means.”

“She knows what off means.”

“Noooo” Eva said, the “oooos” dragged as her top lip puckered and her bottom lip protruded and her hips swung the tulle against my mother’s wishes.

I was making no efforts to get it off, I figured she could wear it while I finished my glass of wine but my mother’s disapproval took over.

“I don’t want her to mess it up.”

“Well then we will have to force her out of it.”

“Do it.”

“Okay”

I place my wine glass slowly down on the outside table; I slowly bend over hoping to coax the zipper down without Eva noticing.

“ Just take the dress off already,” my mother says, impatient with my bending to a toddler’s wish- way of doing things.

Mom bends down right as I had just got the zipper down a couple inches and grabs Eva.

“The dress comes off now.”

My mom holds her up in the middle of the room and begins to shake Eva so the dress will fall off, white tulle untouched. The faster my mom shook Eva the higher pitched her screams became.

At that moment Dani’s mom returned from the bathroom to find my mother shaking Eva, screaming in the middle of the party. She stood in silent shock, the ice cube in the last glass of Iced Tea slips, the dress falls off and Mom sheepishly hands me my screaming now naked toddler.

Meanwhile Dani’s mother must have had flashes of her future grandchildren with shaken baby syndrome and is probably right now hatching a plan to move my brother and her daughter safely to the other end of the island. She said nothing but made her exit soon after taking the rest of her banoffee miniature pies.

A few minutes later after Eva had recovered from her tantrum with the help of the last chocolate brownie, I led her through the house to say goodbye to the teetotalars, she cried.

“Mommy, my arm hurts.”

“That’s okay Eva, GiGi didn’t mean it.”

Suddenly I had my own childhood flashback. One day afterschool my little sister had thrown a predictable tantrum about not being able to consume vast quantities of sugar as is every child’s dream, having to be marched through the sweet aisle at the local pharmacy. As she was reaching for a package of black current fruit pastilles my mother yanked her arm out of reach of the candy display. My mother’s enthusiasm was no match for my sister’s ear piercing frustration at being whisked away within moments of success. My sister’s public performance reached new levels of achievement in drama when she insisted in tears and pain that her arm hurt.

“You hurt my arm, you hurt my arm.” Floods of tears, and the attention of the entire community of shoppers, led my mother’s tough exterior to crumble.

“Are you really hurt?”

“Yes.” My sister sobbed, holding her arm complete with floppy wrist.

“It’s my shoulder, you pulled it out.”

“Oh my God” my mother said overcome with guilt scanning the audience of cough drop buyers.

“We will have to get the doctor to check you out.”

She marched us both through the doors of the pharmacy into the doctor’s office, which was conveniently still open.

After a quick examination of my sister’s shoulder and arm, and a bit of a wink, he proffered,

“I think she will survive, nothing is out of place, broken or bruised except an ego.”

He gave my sister a lollipop for being a good patient. Her eyes light up because in a way she had won more than a lollipop.

That night my mother retold the saga to my father who quietly nodded, but taking in every detail he hatched a plan.

The next day on speaker phone a woman called my mother at home.

“Hello, I am looking for a Mrs. Jane Spurling.”

“This is she.”

“I am Mrs. Butterfield from the Department of Social Services.”

“Pardon.”

“Department of Social Services mame, we have had a report of public child abuse.”

“Who me?” a quiet but guilty voice came across the line.

“A member of the public has made a complaint that you were abusing your child at Robertson’s pharmacy yesterday afternoon, and that the child was in an ill or injured state as a result.”

“But But I took her to the doctors, you can ring them, she was really fine.”

“That does not make it right.”

“I promise to never do it again.”

“We will be arraigning you on charges to be determined by the family court.”

Before my mother burst into tears, the caller revealed herself to be my father’s secretary put up to it my father and his conspiratorial friends. For the thirty years since, this story has continued to give all of us many occasions to laugh, especially my sister who has always had the same persistent knack at getting her own way. My mom had not changed much either in the intervening years, and it was not the first or last time my mother would be had by a practical joke, including the one that my husband Chris had in store for her for Bridal Shower 2. Tune in next week!

Welcome to the family

Welcome to the family