My sister and I have already written about some of our adventures with Mother on her birthday. There was the year we bought Neapolitan ice cream…which turned out to be the one flavor she hated. There was the year we had the surprise 80th birthday party with several of her relatives. And there was the year she moved to Iowa and left her own birthday party. She went on to tell her neighbor she had been to better parties.
I cannot remember any of my mother’s birthdays when I was growing up. I think they must have consisted of my sister and I trying to find a present, wrapping it up, and waiting for Mother to throw one of her fits.
But I do remember every year once she moved to Indiana because that is when my sister and I would make our yearly pilgrimage to her home. I foolishly always thought she would be in a good mood. After all we were showing up to celebrate her birthday and take her out to dinner. However, it never ended up that way.
My sister and I always wanted her special day to be memorable and it always was…just not for the reasons we wanted. It would begin easily enough when we arrived at her home to pick Mother up. We usually took her to a restaurant for the beloved biscuits and gravy or pancakes. After breakfast was the giant shopping trip to Walmart, followed by the mandatory stop to shop for shoes. After getting back in the car, my sister would usually suggest lunch at Mother’s favorite buffet.
Going to a buffet with someone who can barely walk is a treat, and if you add in a personality that is very disagreeable, it is doubly enjoyable. Mother didn’t like anything my sister brought her. I had given up trying to please her many years before. Actually, for an over-weight woman, she was pretty darn picky.
She would take one bite of the fish and exclaim in a voice loud enough for people two blocks away to hear:
I can’t eat this! It’s horrible! Bring me something else.
No please or thank you…just lots of loud demands.
After she completed pushing away dozens of plates of uneaten food, Mother was ready to go. My sister and I would leave the buffet thankful that none of our friends were anywhere nearby.
The evening of her birthday was always spent in the same way. We would go to the Overlook restaurant. This restaurant overlooked the Ohio River and would have been a peaceful, delightful place to dine if not for the presence of the wild woman that was my mother. Perhaps my sister and I should have realized the eerie fact that the restaurant had the same name as the hotel in Stephen King’s The Shining.
Mother would wait until our food was ordered and then she would bring up the worst topic possible. Once my sister asked her why we went to bed so early as children (since she made us go to bed every night around 7 even in the summer). Mother launched into a discussion about how she had to get her sleep. She then added that Lindy was capable of getting out of her crib and that she had told her doctor her woes and he had prescribed the baby strait jacket. My sister and I were both in shock over this revelation, but we shouldn’t have been. My motto has always been “Expect the Unexpected” when it comes to my mother.