After graduating from high school, my dad and I decided that a trip to California to see my mother would be a nice graduation present. I flew to Los Angeles and spent a week with her. Well, not exactly “with” her, but our paths did cross when she wasn’t working or socializing.
Mary worked at a little dive bar. She had since divorced “Uncle Stepdad” and was enjoying the single life. The one plus was that the apartment complex where she lived had a swimming pool.
While Mary worked, I would spend the day by myself swimming. It was relaxing but kind of odd. I had traveled all the way to visit her after not seeing her for a year, and she was busy living her life without me. Rather eye opening.
One day I decided to walk to a nearby grocery store so I could fix a surprise birthday dinner for her. I spent most of my remaining cash on supplies for the meal, walked back to her apartment and began cooking. When she returned, she was surprised all right, but not in the way I had envisioned. She informed me that she was on one of her many fad diets, did not eat like that any more, and certainly did not want the birthday cake I had prepared.
I was stunned.
She left shortly after to return to the bar to work or socialize or drink or all of the above. I spent the remainder of the evening cleaning up the mess, throwing out the food and preparing for my departure the next day.
It would be the last birthday we spent together for over forty years. She sure knew how to make it memorable!