A Night To Remember

Priscilla Dann-Courtney shares New Years Eve reflections about being with her 90 year old mother.

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I woke up in the middle of the night and decided how I wanted to celebrate New Year’s Eve. As I was making plane reservations on-line at 1:00 AM, an email arrived.

“Hi Deary, I just sent your Christmas gift! I miss you.” Love, Mom

“Mom, what are you doing up and could I celebrate New Year’s with you?” I wrote back.

My 90-year-old mother does well on her own but does seem to be losing her memory. Whenever my siblings and I visit, she has such sadness when we hug goodbye but soon seems to forget her loneliness, along with passwords for her computer, and where the pepper is. Our conversation reminds me the mother/child connection late at night is timeless.

The gifts I will bring will not be wrapped. Instead it will be memories to share tucked in my suitcase taking up so much space, but light to carry. She used to go dancing with her long time beau early in to the morning on New Year’s but his heart gave out last year – which broke hers. When we were kids we’d play jokes on one another, short – sheeting beds and pouring salt between covers! One year my mother created a skating rink in our backyard, flooding a small area with the hose to create a wonderland of ice at our doorstep. My father was not happy come spring as our lawn suffered the consequences. We’d go sledding in our backyard on New Year’s Day. I cherished being “on top of one another” – something I never felt in our too big house. These were all snowy childhood memories when we lived in the gray stone house before the divorce, which moved us to the blue house across town.  My mother seems to have little memory of the second house, perhaps preferring to forget. I won’t bring those memories in my carry on. It is a quick trip, no need for everything.

It might be a nice tradition to begin spending New Year’s with my mother except traditions are celebrated year after year which is something we won’t have. I think about when she’s gone, and when we’re gone from our own children. As I baked a loaf of pumpkin bread scooping out the pumpkin for the goodness of the real thing, I made a note on the recipe, “substitute ½ cup butter for ½ cup oil.” With a sad smile I imagined my children reading the note when they inherit my recipes. Now and then my mother has sent me hers, Swedish pancakes and Apple Brown Betty that I keep just to have her handwriting.

Even though I will carry memories on board this New Years to give to my mother, I also know I want to create as many as I can before she passes. Perhaps that is one of the more important recipes to savor about our parents, the one that calls for unmeasurable memories making enough to share so never truly forgotten.

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