My mother always prided herself on her appearance. She dressed meticulously and was somewhat vain about her image.
One time when she had fallen and cut her head, she refused to go to the emergency room without first putting on makeup, even though she was covered in blood with her hair matted and she obviously needed stitches.
I mention this so you will appreciate what is to follow.
My mother and aunt had visited my cousin in NY during the late fall. My cousin took some pictures of them while they were there and sent the pictures to me. Among the various pictures was one of my mother in curlers, no makeup, wearing a puffy ski jacket and large eyeglasses that created a glare in the flash from the camera. In short, she looked horrible.
I wasn't sure why my cousin included this particular picture, but as I sat there looking at it, I couldn't help but see this as an interesting opportunity. My wife and I were scheduled to visit my mother at her home in Delray, Florida, that Sunday.
My mother was very active in her condo community. She was President of the social club, board member on the condo board, volunteered in the office, seller of tickets for the clubhouse shows and very well known to all.
I bought some poster board, pasted the offending picture on it and wrote in LARGE letters: "Has Anyone Seen this Woman?" "She escaped from the Home" "If you see her, please call the Delray Police or the Nearest Catskill Comedian" I then hid the poster from my wife, who doesn't always share my view of innocent fun.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Catskills, they are a resort area just north of NYC which were very popular with members of my mother's generation. It was known for its comedians, many of whom went on to national prominence.
When we arrived in Delray, I excused myself and went to see one of my mother's friends who had proven to have a sense of humor.
He agreed to let me into the clubhouse and put the poster on the bulletin board in the main room. I then returned to my mother's home, went to dinner (early bird of course) brought her back home and returned to our home in Sunrise.
As luck would have it, that night at my mother's clubhouse was a big show.
She was taking tickets at the door and never went into the clubhouse proper.
As the people came into the clubhouse, milling around, they started to notice my large poster.
"Who is that woman?", "Does she look familiar to you?", "Is that Jean (my mother)?", "No it couldn't be Jean", "But it looks kinda like her". The debate raged on.
Finally, some of them went to the door and dragged my mother over to look at the poster.
She immediately cursed the day I was born and tore down the poster to much laughter.
That night, lying in bed, watching TV, I got a call around 11 o'clock. I was kind of expecting a tirade and threats of disinheritance, but couldn't resist wanting to find out the results of my harmless prank. I answered the phone.
"You idiot, you moron", she screamed, and then in a softer voice, "If it wasn't so damn funny, I would kill you"
The humor apple didn't fall far from the tree.