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I still remember mom's timeout

The gooseneck lamp was turned on, and out came the familiar violet box — a former chocolate box. The house was quiet, I was the only one around besides mom.

But first, some background. As often happens, I observe, mothers can be the mainstem of the family. So it was in ours. Mom had a well paid job, taking the subway to Manhattan an hour each way for some 44 years. I finally begged her to retire at 74. She was afraid she would not have enough to do. Actually she had a grand happy life for another 12 years.

In addition to full-time work, she would give my grandmother an insulin shot first thing in the morning, made breakfast, a full dinner and a lot of the cleaning up. She also mediated disputes between my father and grandmother, other family members (always the referee), and sometimes had a bit of time for me between nursing my father back to health.

As for Dad, he worked sporadically, being in and out of hospitals much of the time. A big deal for me was an occasional shopping day with her. I would get some new socks, maybe a shirt. Then we would have an ice cream soda. With it all, Stella (a true star) kept it all together. As noted, she had very little time, if any, to herself. We had big, 10- to 12-person family dinners, mom presiding, and some few vacations. All-in-all a good life.

One of the clearest and fondest memories I have among dozens is what I call mom’s timeout. That is when the aforementioned goose-neck lamp would come out, and the old violet former chocolate box. By the warm glow of the lamp, mom would begin her very private quiet time.

The little rectangular box contained all of mother’s nail polish, polish remover, files, clippers and hand balms. She began her slow manicure. I was privileged to sit nearby, quiet for once, and watch as she sat for an hour or so in meditation, for that is what it was. Some rare times we spoke a little, almost always about me. The timeout was a magical time for me as well as mother. I knew mom was relaxed, happy and would be recharged for another day.

Harvey Rupp lives in Ashland.


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