This is a great piece!
Learning to Give Thanks
After my father’s death, about a dozen years ago, I picked up the habit of asking my mother to call or e-mail me the minute she and Bob return from an out-of-town trip. It doesn’t matter whether their itinerary includes a flight across the Atlantic or a drive across the George Washington Bridge. Like many Manhattanites, the two of them seem like rare flowers that draw their sustenance from concrete, so it’s a stretch to imagine them transplanting themselves, even for a few hours, without inviting disaster.
Both of them play along. My mother’s cooperation, I always assumed, came with a certain pride that I’d inherited her nerves of glass. One evening when I was about 14, I stepped into the hall to find her sprawled in front of the bathroom door like Maderno’s St. Cecilia. “You left your underwear on top of the laundry bag,” she hissed. “Again.” A few months later, on my first day of high school I wrote, “TODAY, I AM CAST INTO THE PIT” on a sheet of legal paper and taped it to the refrigerator door. Or so she swears. Shared neurosis was what made our little apartment feel like a home.
Over the years, my mother and Bob have turned into first-class world travelers. One year it’s Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh, the next it’s Agra and Delhi. They send back digital slideshows of themselves caked with Dead Sea mud, or beaming over bowls of fried crickets as fish nibble the dead skin from their feet. They synchronized their slides of Brazil to Django Reinhardt and published the video over their own YouTube channel, so tens of thousands of people have seen them dressed as a Candomblé priest and priestess.
But this new adventuresome spirit failed to register with me until yesterday afternoon, after she and Bob had gotten back visiting her Uncle Butch in Hamilton Township. “Guess what?” she asked. “Bob and I didn’t get to see Uncle Butch, but we got to take a very exciting ride in a tow truck.”
You can read the delightful rest here.