I went to my mother's house today, which, by itself, makes her very happy. After all, I came carting the 9-year-old granddaughter. Any grandchild, anytime, is a very good thing.
I also brought her a care package of a type. I kind of gathered this stuff from around my house knowing she'd want it all. My mother, now 78, lives very frugally in the house we moved into as a family in Scottsdale in 1973. What was once an amazingly new, beautifully-maintained house is now a crumbling ruin. Well, it's still standing. My Mom can't see the flaws, she only sees the inside of the house, lovingly decorated with antiques. She doesn't see the listing pillars on the outside, the dying cacti about to fall on cars parked in the gravel drive in front, or the criss-crossing ham radio antennas strung up in the trees over the house by my stepfather.
Here's what I brought her: three magazines - Architectural Digest, Traditional Home and More Magazine; the memoir A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal, a Holocaust survivor, which I ordered for her from Amazon.com. I had mentioned the interview I heard on NPR a few weeks ago with the author and my mother wanted the book badly; much worse than I did. It's just one of our weird little facts that my mother, who is a Holocaust survivor, just can't get enough of the Holocaust, and I, who was only just inundated with the Holocaust by her, can't stand to read about the Holocaust. Go figure.
I also brought her the horseradish root that I used for my seder plate on Passover. I use real root because I think it makes the seder plate look so cool, to have a jumble of root among the other symbolic foods, but we don't actually pick up the big hunk of gnarled root during the seder and gnaw on it or anything. It's just for show. So off it goes to my mother's house for her to gnaw on it.
The final thing I brought my mother was two jars of Gefilte Fish which I found today at the grocery store for about two bucks each. So, being compulsive, I bought six. This brought tears to her eyes. She grabbed me and got kind of weepy, like somehow in the country in which she lives (that would be one mile south of me, so still in the United States) she isn't allowed to go to the grocery store and buy gefilte fish. I am the bringer of the gefilte fish, and if I don't do it she will go gefilte fishless for years.
Soon after that I had to go. My daughter and I had to go shopping for a Mother's Day present for this same mother who sat crying over the gefilte fish. She was surprised by this. Another present? she said. The fish wasn't the present? No mom, the fish wasn't actually the present.