|BWS Stories - "Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter"...Stories About Mom|
"Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter"...Stories About Mom - A Lesson for My Mother
Heather Haldeman lives in Pasadena, California. She has been married to her
husband, Hank, for twenty-nine years and has three children. She began writing
when her oldest went away to college nine years ago. Her work has appeared in
Chicken Soup For The Soul's syndicated column, two of their books, The
Christian Science Monitor, From Freckles to Wrinkles, Grandmother Earth and
several online journals.
A Lesson for My Mother
“You’ll be so proud of me,” my 81 year-old mother said,
sounding excited. “I fixed it all by myself and I didn’t even call you to take
care if it!”
I switched the phone receiver to my other ear to stir the pasta
on the stove. “What, Mom? Fixed what?”
I feel lucky because Mom’s in good health and her mind is
sharp. Still, she’s a rare one. Most people tell me that she’s fun, that she’s
genuine, so full of life. She is. But my mother’s also a handful and
instinctively, I knew that there was more to this.
“Well,” her voice was still upbeat. “I mistook the brake pedal
for the gas pedal and well, sort of crashed into the wall of the garage. No big
deal, though,” she went on, talking faster now. “I called my handyman all by
myself and he’s coming over to give an estimate. I also called the insurance
company. See, aren’t you proud!”
The next day, I headed across town to my mother’s to assess
the damage. The garage wall had a smashed in dent which I expected, but, inside
the house, the wall common to the house and garage had been pushed out and had a
big crack. Bits of plaster dotted the burgundy carpet which had crumpled like
an accordion from the wall’s movement. The door jamb on a doorway closeby was
crooked, and bent to a Dali-esque slight angle.
“My masseuse says that he wants to do a painting of it,” my
mother said. “He’s an artist you know.”
“Yeah, Mom,” I replied, running my hand along the distorted
I pulled out my camera and began taking pictures for the
My mother read the concern on my face. “You’re not going to
take my license away, are you? I was only going 5 miles an hour when I hit it.
You saw that my car didn’t have a scratch. That wall is made of spit and glue.”
“I don’t know, Mom. I
“But, it’s my independence,” she replied. “I’m not a bad driver.
Really. It was just a mistake. The floor mat got caught under my foot.” She
raised her right hand. “Swear to Buddha.”
It was getting dark and Mom doesn’t drive at night, so I
told her that I’d come back tomorrow. “I’ll have you drive me around in your
car so that I can determine whether you should still be driving.”
But, on my way home,
I decided that it was too much responsibility to make that decision alone. I
called my sister, April. “You come, too,” I told her.
“No way,” she laughed. “I wanna live a few more years.”
“But, what if I think that she’s O.K. behind the wheel and
she has some horrible accident?”
April came up with a solution. Driving School.
“Perfect,” I said to my sister. I’m calling a local one
right now. Let the professionals decide.”
A week later, my mother had her first lesson. That morning,
she continued to plead her case during our morning phone call. “I’m too busy to
take driving lessons now with Christmas around the corner.”
“Mom, please. You’ve got to do this.”
“I’ve really been good,” she said. “Please don’t take my license
away. I had dreams about it all night.”
“I understand how you feel, Mom. But, we have to make sure
that you are safe out there. And, that the other people around you are safe.”
I tried to reassure her. “You’ll be fine, Mom. It’s a
private lesson in your own car. This guy specializes in older drivers. In fact,
he’s got a lesson with an 84 year-old woman next Friday.”
While she was at the lesson, I checked my watch the entire
two hours, wondering if I’d get a call from the instructor telling me to rescue
him from my mother’s driving. My sister and I chatted twice. “Think it’s going O.K.?”
At last, my phone rang. “I passed!”
I asked how her lesson went.
“Well, my instructor’s name is Alex. He’s 53 and happily
married. He’s a Libra - best sign of the Zodiac- and he’s from Iran.” This
time, her excitement wasn’t feigned.
“That’s great but how’d you do?”
“Fine! He said that I veer a little to the left at times,
but now I’m aware of that and will watch it. Oh, and he said that I need to
stop in front of the line at the stop sign, not slightly past it.”
“He says that I’m basically good, that I just need to brush
up on some things, like when I go into reverse, I need to check the mirror AND
look over my shoulder.”
“That’s good,” I sighed.
“But, the best part of the lesson was when I saw some of my
friends on the street. Here I was driving around with this young stud. I waved
to make sure that they saw me.”
“You’re something, Mom,” I said, rolling my eyes.
“And, guess what,” she added. “Next week, Alex is going to
teach me how to parallel park!”