Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day, and I'm going to reminisce about my mother (my brother and I called her, "ma," not "mom"), but I'll keep it short. This is a difficult holiday for many, many people. I think it's a cruel holiday, presumptuous and pushy. What has more emotional currency than ones' relationship with mom? Sometimes, it's not good, not at all.

For me it was very good. She was supporting, loving, thoughtful and kind. Sadly, when I think of her now, I most often think of her final months and years, as she battled cancer.

A remembrance approaches.

Pauline was a beautiful woman who loved animals and trips away from the city. She didn't want much, just a trip to, "pet a horse's nose" every so often. During the 1990's she and I went on perhaps 2 dozen whale watches, mostly out of Boston, a few out of Gloucester. It was usually just the two of us.

My mother loved the sea.

We would surreptitiously bring a couple of snacks aboard the ship to save money, and then get sun and wind burned as we leaned off the bow. Our favorite ship was a giant catamaran that just flew out of the inner harbor towards Stellwagen Bank, the whales' feeding ground. It was exhilarating.

One time, when we were on a smaller, single hull vessel out of Rowe's Wharf, a storm crossed our path and the ship just pitched back and forth. Absolutely everyone got seasick, puking in buckets and off the side, or on the deck. I recall looking out the window and seeing a cloudy sky, then seconds later just the surface of the sea. The horizon was a blur in between there somewhere. Most of us weren't frightened, just violently ill. Many of us on board may have preferred death over this heinous nausea.

Only one person on the whole ship was not sea sick, and that was my mother. A young Korean couple we had chatted with earlier in the day held out for a long time, but they eventually succumbed to the pitch-and-roll. The crew, initially angry at all the vomit they had to clean up, turned green.

My mother was fine. She offered me a Pepto.

She died of cancer 8 years ago, and it was difficult and painful. She didn't deserve that. Nobody does. That time is a blur to me now, as I was undergoing electro-convulsive therapy. I don't remember much of 2002 or 2003. That's probably for the best. I do remember the whale watches, though, and those are some fine memories.

Happy Mother's Day, Ma.

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