I was thinking the other day, that Reza could be my mother. If my biological mother had decided to leave me on the side of the curb in 1976, Reza would have adopted me, I know she would have. It would have made her a teenage mother, and in someways I am surprised she wasn’t a teenage mother, her big heart is always taking in strays. Stray dogs, stray people, stray people’s problems, stray teenage adoption- not such a stretch. I distinctly remember showing up one Saturday morning sometime last year to see Piglet while Reza was out, and noticing a suspicious car in the yard. It was an unmarked car parked next to the swing set with two men wearing matching grey suits and ray bans. It was then I knew her latest stray who she was hosting in the spare room, was a bit more trouble than the usual alley cats. A few weeks later something happened between them, someone called the cops, Reza kicked her out, and has been locking her door ever since. She won’t tell me what happened, and although I wish Piglet could talk he doesn’t divulge any of Reza’s secrets.
Reza, much like my own mother, also gives me parenting advice. She tells me Eva needs a sibling. I tell her … “Just like I need to saw off my arm.” She is horrified, tells me I spoil her, and looks at me suspiciously when I say no then give in and say yes because by the time Eva has had two lollipops what harm does a third one do? kind of like wine. It’s irrational but I am sticking to it – but only on Saturdays. Then mid sentence Reza runs outside and starts mowing the lawn in her way too small nightie with bizarre and at the same time random timing, like she left the kettle on or something. The noise makes me loose concentration and I start thinking I am in my own version of the Truman Show.
Reza is always trying to convert me to religion, to save me, to earn her golden ticket to heaven, and be my spiritual guide. My cynicism of religion has not budged but I was searching through my drawers last night for a pen and found a poem on a card about Motherhood with an image of Mary Magdalene. Reza probably gave it to me, slipped it under the door, or with her bill. It read:
It’s such a hectic day, with little time to stop and pray. For life’s been anything but calm, since you called me to be a mom- running errands, matching socks, building dreams with stacking blocks, cooking, cleaning and finding shoes, and other things that children lose. Fitting lids on bottled bugs, wiping tears and giving hugs. A stack of last week’s mail to read- where’s the quiet time I need? Yet when I steal a moment, Lord, at the sink or ironing board, to ask the blessing of your grace, I see them in my little one’s face, that you have blessed me all the while. And I stoop to kiss that precious smile.
I thought of my own mother and how she is still doing a lot of these things, she still nags us all to be her best version of ourselves, she has taken in our partners and all the grandchildren in kind of like strays and nags them too. Last weekend she was throwing a dinner party and wanted Chris and I to attend, but we declined not because we had a better offer but because it was the only night we have off all week because life with a three year old and jobs is otherwise hectic. She twisted our arm and convinced us to come for a drink.
“Why do we have to come for a drink?”
“Because the Gig man is here and he is English.”
“Who is /What is a Gig man?”
“Your father has brought him over to start the pilot gig racing program in Bermuda.”
“Reza’s father was a pilot.”
“The Gig man does not want to meet Reza he wants to meet Chris.”
“Why does he want to meet Chris?”
“Because he supports the same team as Chris, he is a Tottenham Hotspurs supporter.”
“Oh they have a huge game on Sunday.”
“So you have to bring Chris over for a drink.”
We came over, my mother had hired staff for the evening, unbeknownst to me I was drafted too and spent cocktail hour passing canapés. Then my mother requested that Chris make her a cocktail. We started gossiping together in the kitchen like Anna and Bates in Downton Abbey. Chris was fixing her a drink, while I was arranging toast points.
“Do you think that is enough vodka?” he asked me looking down at the two finger vodka he had poured.
“For my mother, not at all, why don’t we double it and make it a four finger and just put a touch of soda water in it.”
“We can’t do that.”
“Yes we can, she can send it back and we can water it down if need be.”
“You are going to get her drunk.”
“Not off one vodka, it will be funny, come on.”
He poured the stiffy.
“I want to see if she flinches.”
I took my almost seventy year old mother the drink.
“Chris wants you to taste it to see if it’s okay.”
She raised it to her lips and drank with reverence.
I returned to the ante room and reported back to Chris.
I looked down and started laughing.
Chris said, “What are you laughing at?”
The cocktail napkin, its so mom.
Chris looked down and read it: “I laughed so hard tears ran down my leg.”
Then I started to think…. It would be a pretty hilarious character portrait to hunt through all her stuff and find all the cocktail napkins in her collection.
“It would be quite a portrayal.” Chris said…and so I did, like the good researcher I am, collecting all her cocktail napkins my mothers own pracied memoir, a life in cocktail napkins. Maybe that is what I will entitle her eulogy.
I tried jogging but I couldn’t keep the ice in my glass
At our age swimming is dangerous, lifeguards don’t try as hard.
SLUTS: Southern Ladies Up to Something
Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle
You will always be my best friends, you know too much!
Hello Vodka, this is mommy calling.
This last one is especially fitting. I am thinking the three of us kids, should ask her to choose one for her epitaph.
Later on, when we were invited out of the kitchen, Chris finally got to meet the Gig man.
“Hey, I hear we support the same team – YID ARMY! Woot. Woot.”
“Huh? Oh You are a Spurs supporter? “
“You have a big game tomorrow.”
“Yes WE have a big game tomorrow.” Chris said.
“ I support Torquay United. “
“Maybe we did give her too much vodka.” I said later.
“It’s almost impossible to get a third division team like Torquay confused with Spurs.”
“Almost isn’t good enough.”
“Write that one down.”
“Your life in cocktail napkins, the abridged memoir.”
“We should do one for Reza too.”
“If Reza was my mother, I would need a four finger vodka.”