Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day Memories

Spouse and I are spending this Mother's Day weekend on the road bringing Second Born home from college for her summer break.  It was very likely dinner was going to be wolfed down at a rest stop somewhere in Pennsylvania but as ti turns out we will celebrate Mother's Day and my birthday with family in Connecticut, making the weekend that much more fun. And there's going to be cake.

The best part is that in the end I’ll have a kid home for the summer, and after that I can start calculating how to get back to Atlanta to see The Love Couple (you had to know that was coming).

When I look back on the significance of Mother’s Day my mind slips back to the sights and sounds of my childhood and one of my favorite memories with my mom.

Pigeons, popcorn and the world’s best Downtown pizza.

Because my mom didn’t drive and there were barely any stores on our side of town, she and I were quite familiar with the bus lines that took us Downtown. Mom could spend hours wandering through department and clothing stores. Even then I was perfecting my anti-shopping attitude. My main objective was to curtail the whining so Mom would treat me to Domenick and Pia Pizzeria for lunch. The popular mom and pop pizza shop delivered whopping slices of thin crust cheese pizza, a greasy delicacy that dripped down into a steady line of hands reaching over the counter for a paper plate of paradise. We gathered our slices and soda and waited for one of the few small tables to become available.
Back then the pizza parlor stood in a tiny spot on the bottom floor of an office building.  Years later the husband and wife team relocated to a slightly bigger space down the street, but my fondest memories are of that hole-in-the-wall treasure, stretching up to what seemed like a gigantic counter in my youth, grabbing my pizza slice and savoring every bite to the background hum of Downtown traffic. I would slurp up my lunch with gusto as people in business suits passed by the glass windows that looked out onto the building’s lobby. A part of me felt bad that these office workers were too dressed up to enjoy a slice of pizza. You didn’t dare take a chance with Domenick’s grease on a formal outfit unless you had a stockpile of napkins barricading your whole body.

At the end of our day my mom and I would wait by the town green for our bus home. Somewhere along the way she would often purchase a small bag of popcorn and let me toss it to the city pigeons while we waited. The urban birds, familiar with humans and their treats, would strut brazenly forward, anticipating my weak, short throw. They dove over each other to grab each morsel almost before it hit the ground. The pigeons would become so pushy that I occasionally thought they might try to climb onto the bus with us.

Soon we would be on our way home, struggling to stay put in slippery vinyl seats as the bus belched and rolled through the city toward home.

My mom probably never knew how much those trips meant to me. Where she may have seen it as a hassle to count on the bus route for shopping and sometimes even doctor appointments while my dad worked long hours, I was a happy camper, pretending to be a secret agent hiding behind store displays. For a few hours I relished being surrounded by city foot traffic unfamiliar to me on the residential side of town where we lived.

I hope my girls can look back at moments that I may not have known were significant, but that meant something special to them. It could be as simple as finding shells and sand dollars on the beach, or as silly as the many celebratory meals we shared at the restaurant with talking animal heads, as long as it makes them smile because we were together.

Whether you’re celebrating in style or whooshing through a rest stop, may a memory that’s as special as pigeons, popcorn and the world’s best Downtown pizza be a part of your Mother’s Day.

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