for you, on Mother's Day Weekend
a short list, and a recipe.
I will see her, and we will spend the day at my home in Connecticut.
She’ll kiss the dog and love the lilac, which has just bloomed in the backyard. I’d walk her back to it but she’s unsteady on her feet these days, so I’ll clip a few branches and put them in a small vase in the guest room where she can smell them all night, because she no longer sleeps.
We’ll have an early Sunday lunch, Italian, and when we come home she’ll want a glass of the brandy we keep in the house only for her because she’s always cold even though it’s ninety degrees out, and she’ll fall asleep on the couch with the dog next to her, and when we drive her home the next day, we’ll send the brandy along with her.
I’d like it to be a quiet day, this Mother’s Day. Gone are the luxurious lunches at restaurants in Manhattan — salad at the member’s dining room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; tagliatelle at Nello; a salad at Michael’s; the oeufs en meurette at La Goulue where we once celebrated the day sitting next to Yoko Ono, who was lovely and said she missed her husband — because she doesn’t eat this way anymore, and I don’t live this way anymore, and the last time we took her out for an occasion, to King in Greenwich Village, she looked around, a little dazed, unsure of what to do with the fish knife, or why we were even there.
We used to have a different life, a different time; different needs. Sometimes I don’t know who she is, or who I am, or where the time went. It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday, and we’ll celebrate because it’s Mother’s Day, and she is my mother, and she will be eighty-eight this year, and she’d kill me for telling you that because she’s still lying about her age. (I keep telling her Ma, you look amazing for eighty-eight, but you look like shit for sixty, and she actually laughs.)
What I’d like to give back to her:
the ability to walk from her apartment on West 70th Street across town to Saks, have a little lunch on the fourth floor, and walk all the way back;
singing at the piano bar at Nickel’s, on the east side, 1981;
the Prada sunglasses that she broke in a rage;
Peggy Lee at Carnegie Hall in 1995, already in a wheelchair and still singing Fever;
the fashion show downstairs at MoMA, 1972;
the fashion show in the private dining room at the UN where she modeled a dashiki, invited by the wife of the Nigerian Delegate, 1974;
the suede, lace-front jeans my father bought for her in Carmel, 1970;
red snapper en papillote at Artie’s Warehouse, 1981;
the charms that she sold for cash off her charm bracelet, one by one, until it was charmless;
the three-inch chocolate brown suede pumps from Eric on Madison Avenue, that were, she said, like sneakers;
a burger at 21 after her show at the Copa was over;
the Saturday night shows on ABC with Galen Drake, 1957;
Sunday dancing at The Pierre with Tim, until he had to leave the country, 1961;
the sandwich she shared with Boris Karloff, 1955;
the first haircut at Vidal Sassoon after Rosemary’s Baby, 1968;
the engagement ring, 1962;
the engagement ring, 1981;