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Sick days, Blue days and Birthdays

I really want to write something right now but I think I may be getting sick. My throat is scratchy and I’m feeling so tired. No matter that I got up at 5:45am because the cat was crying loudly again at the foot of my bed.

She’s old, pushing 18, and it’s like every morning she’s announcing, “I’m still here!” I’d like to toss her across the room and throw her the hell over there, but instead I get up with a heavy sigh and pad downstairs alongside her. We are both a little slower and more creaky than we were just a few years ago.

I give her fresh food as she twists through my legs. This used to be no big deal, but now half the time I almost trip on her. My cat’s cat reflexes have also gone to the dogs and she is no longer adept at darting out of my way.  We are two clumsy old broads.

My throat really is sore and I grab a piece of cantaloupe from the fridge, hoping the juiciness will soothe it. It does for an eighth of a second and then I’m back where I started, but now I’m thinking I need some Advil. I know it’s bad to take on an empty stomach but it’s barely 6am and I can’t think of putting anything in there except my coffee, irritating or fruit, acidic.

I take another piece of cantaloupe, sip my coffee and consider it all while I rest my head on my desk instead of typing brilliant, entertaining prose like I’m supposed to be.

When I pick my head up it is 7am and my middle son is looming over me. He wants a morning hug, pancakes and to know whether he needs to wear his blue or white shirt for his baseball game later.

I check the calendar and confirm that it is in fact a blue day and then realize the date. July 10th.  And now I feel a little sicker. It is my grandmother’s birthday. She died two and a half years ago and would have been 93.

I know she’s hovering around, watching me, tsking when she sees my boys running outside without shoes, invisibly rubbing my hand in that circular comforting way that she had when I’m on the phone with my father, wishing she could send over some lobster Cantonese, fried rice and an egg roll because right now I know she wants to fatten me up.

She took such joy in life and in the challenge of life. She was a lawyer without a license, a psychologist without a degree. A lover of babies, a card shark, a chicken soup maker, a shoe thrower, a piece of work, a force to reckon with, a giver of jewels, words of wisdom and tough love; a matriarch, a mother, a grandmother and a great grandmother.

From her first “Helloooeee” to her last “I love you more” and every affectionate “You rotten bitch” in between she captivated you with her commanding tone and raspy voice.

I wish I could do her justice but no one could.

I still hear her and think of her and wish she was here with me to enjoy my boys and tell me in person everything I’m doing wrong and how exactly I should be doing it. We would laugh over a bagel and lox, a good cup of coffee and lick our lips before we dove into our bowls of chocolate ice cream. We would talk for hours, but mostly I would listen, because she was a fascinating woman who led a fascinating life.

It’s July 10th and it’s a blue day. My throat hurts and now so does my heart.

Damn I miss this woman

Damn I miss this woman

About Ice Scream Mama

Mama to 3 boys, wife to Mr. Baseball and daughter of a sad man. I have a double scoop every day.

19 responses »

  1. Of course you miss her — look at the joy in that picture. But the joy’s still there. Close your eyes. You’ll find it.

  2. this is a beautiful piece! and what a joyful picture! i love reading your stuff.

  3. Phyllis Horowitz

    Alisa. I knew I should have called you today. I sang Happy Birthday to her this morning while I fed my dogs.

    When my girlfriend called to ask if I wanted to go to a (fancy) restaurant for dinner, I said “I should go, just to ‘celebrate’ my mom’s birthday, but now that I think about that, the last thing my mother would want is for me to have something to eat!” We didn’t go; postponed for a later date.

    Yes, I look at the photos around my house and see and think of her every day too. What would she think? What would she say? What would she do? I know the answers to all those questions. It’s ingrained in my being. I hear her in my head and feel her in my heart.

    She’d never have believed we’d love and miss her as much as we still do.

    I don’t think I want to let her go; I keep grabbing at memories. Once in awhile I can’t stop myself from playing one of those answering machine messages I have kept for all these years. “Coover – where are you bumming around to?” and “Bastugal: Call your old mother when you get home .” She’d call me “Pussycat,” or “my baby,” sometimes just before or right after she’d mock or demean me for something!

    Yes, quite a woman. We were lucky to have her influence us, and guide us, and bitch at us, and protect us, and love us more.

    Be a good girl, Alisa, and take care of yourself. It’s what your grandmother would tell you to do. And remember you have an Aunt Phyllis who loves you (all) and thinks of you (all) every single day.

  4. It cannot be a coincidence that I stumbled upon this post. I completely identify with it. July 11 was the anniversary of my grandfather’s death, and I wrote about him that day. Thank you for sharing your beautifully written post.

  5. I love this piece! How lucky you were to have such a great relationship with your grandmother. Sending hugs!

  6. I agree with Elyse, close your eyes and you will find her again right by your side. I can almost hear her voice reading your vivid words. Thank you for sharing her with us.

  7. She sounds wonderful. I am sorry you are sick and that you are heart sick. Sometimes we have to remember and have that moment of hurt in order to have them in our lives again, even if just briefly. 90 years is a long time on this earth, but sounds like it wasn’t nearly enough for you.


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