"Would it be possible," she asks, "to get a cold beer and a quesadilla?"
It is more than possible. Of course, she already knows this.
I say to her softly, "Mom, that waiter thinks you're hot."
"I am hot," she replies, "that waiter is correct."
My mom made a personal decision back in the 1970s that she would never again board an airplane.
She didn't like to fly; she didn't need to fly. It was that simple.
The spring after my father died, I offered to take her to Florida.
"Your birthday is coming up. Let's head south for some sun, just you and me."
She asked, "How long a drive would that be?"
I hesitated and then suggested, "I think we should fly....C'mon, let's celebrate your life."
"Well," she said, "since you put it that way."
Mom turned 73 Monday, and we are leaving Thursday for our fifth consecutive celebratory trip.
Our itinerary is unchanging, our routine predictable. It goes something like this:
Trip To Airport: Mom is ridiculously perky for 5 a.m., but claims she didn't sleep.
"I was up about a dozen times last night. I should have taken an Ambien, but I didn't want to wake up naked in the garden again."
"Yes, well, you can sleep on the plane."
She asks, "You remember how to get to the airport?"
"Yes, Mom, we've done this for several years now."
"But last year you missed the exit!"
"I was distracted by you blowing kisses to the truck drivers."
Mother figure laughs heartily and pops a Valium.
Airport Shuttle: Mom brags to shuttle driver that her daughter takes her to Florida every year for her birthday. This announcement will be repeated throughout the trip, and becomes known as "the birthday story," also, "B.S."
She quizzes shuttle driver on his family life, health concerns and citizenship issues. She does secret sign language to tell daughter to tip said driver $3.
He deserves much, much more.
Boarding The Airplane: Mom greets each and every crew member personally, and repeats "birthday story," occasionally adding side notes like, "And she played the clarinet in eighth grade."
Mom tolerates flight with extensive prayer and hand holding.
Most passengers don't seem to mind.
Exiting The Airplane: Mom thanks the pilot for landing the plane safely and tells him he did a great job. Sometimes, she simply yells, "We're alive!"
Hotel Life: Once we arrive at the Marriott, we pretty much stay put.
With a pool, two restaurants and a Starbucks on the premises, all our needs are met. We talk and talk, conversations both intimate and light.
We laugh ourselves silly.
Mom turns the thermostat up to 73.
We play Skip-Bo and Word Search, read and sleep.
I lower the thermostat to 68.
We watch a movie every night.
Room temperature continues to fluctuate.
We rejuvenate for three or four days, then head home.
It's not everyone's dream getaway, but it's perfect for us.
We are mother and daughter, but mostly, we are friends.
These times are precious, and our memories everlasting.