My Mother Gave Me Lists
Most people when they speak about lists from their mothers are generally referring to words of advice like:
Wear clean underwear so in case you’re in an accident you won’t be embarrassed.
Never pass up an opportunity to pee (the best advice she ever gave me).
Be a burden to your children like you are to me.
And other sayings that do or don’t make any sense.
When my mother gave me lists, they were lists of gifts I could get her for her birthday, mother’s day, Chanukah or whatever.
She claimed this made my life easier as I wouldn’t have to guess at what she wanted.
What she wanted was a cruise, new car, or jewelry.
Over the years, I and my sister got her lots of jewelry. Some were on the lists (diamond and pearl earrings, various pendants and bracelets) and some I picked out when I saw something at the Jewelry shows she might like.
As a result, my mother accumulated from my sister and me quite a collection of jewelry. She never met a bracelet she didn’t like or wouldn’t wear along with several other bracelets at the same time. This style seemed very popular in the retirement condos, but resulted in tired muscles in their arms; as the combined weight of the bracelets made it difficult to raise their arms without effort.
She once asked for a pendant with green emeralds. I didn’t remember if she had asked for green emeralds or blue sapphires. I bought both with the idea that she would take one and I would give the other to Barbara. When I told her I had both, she told me she didn’t like the blue color, but would suffer, and keep both.
I must admit, I am not above having a little fun with her.
She had asked for a diamond pendant. I put it in the bottom of a Cracker Jack box and sealed up the box so it looked unopened.
We were going to my sister’s wedding. She was at a table with my aunt and some friends of hers. Her birthday was in a couple of days. I thought it a perfect time to give her the Cracker Jack box.
For those who don’t know, Cracker Jacks was a very popular candy. It consisted of caramelized popcorn and always included a small toy like a plastic whistle, miniature magnifying glass, etc.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“Your birthday present” I said.
“You’re giving me Cracker Jacks for my birthday? What kind of gift is this?”
“Perhaps you should look for the present inside,” I coyly said.
She perked up at this. “Is there something good inside?” she said.
“If I were you, I’d start eating the cracker jacks” I responded.
She and my aunt dug in. Her friends looked on in amusement as my mother and aunt stuffed cracker jacks in their mouths. Half way through she was beginning to get angry.
“Did you really put something in here?” she said suspiciously.
“Keep eating,” I said.
She and my aunt eventually worked their way down and got the pendant.
Another time, my mother asked for diamond studs. Nothing big, about ½ a carat each would do she told me.
I was at the Jewelry show and saw a beautiful pair of CZ studs with 14k backs. They were gorgeous and looked better than anything I could afford to get her that were real diamonds.
I bought them.
I put them in a fancy jewelry box and sent them up to my mother with my daughter who was going to visit her.
The phone call came.
“These are beautiful,” my mother said.
“Glad you like them” I replied.
“So tell me, are they real? I don’t believe you would get me the real ones, I think you would think they were too expensive,” my mother said.
“Don’t they look real?” I countered. “Don’t you deserve real?” I asked.
“Of course I deserve it. But I don’t think you got me real” she said. “Are they real?”
“What do you think?” I replied.
“Do I have to get them appraised?” she demanded.
“You do what you have to do” I countered.
“Are you saying they are real?” she said
“What do you think?” I said.
“I think you’re an idiot who thinks this is funny. If I go to the jeweler in the flea market (a popular place in Delray) and you embarrass me by making me get an appraisal on something that isn’t real, I’ll kill you. I’ll disinherit you, mark my words,” she responded.
“You do what you have to do” I said.
“You’re an idiot!” she said and hung up.
I knew she would never get an appraisal. Every once in a while she would bring up the earrings. I never told her one way or the other.
Sometimes a little fun is worth the aggravation it may cause me. If you can’t have a little fun, it’s not worth doing.