Monthly Archives: April 2014

Mom vs. Halloween

Halloweens in the village of La Jolla (downtown La Jolla has been referred to as “the village” by locals as far back as I can recall) aren’t anything exceptional.

However, the kids from Stella Maris Academy will typically take a parade around the block in their costumes. Often, workers in local shops and banks will also dress up to one extent or another. One Halloween morning, my mom left the office and went to Wells Fargo to do some banking. This particular Halloween was a bit more festive than others. As she waited in line, looking at each of the tellers and managers in their mostly last-minute and half-hearted costumes, she realized that even a few people in line were dressed up for the day.

One of them–the woman standing right behind her–had what my mom considered to be the best costume of all. Now, as I’ve mentioned, my mom was an army brat and spent a good chunk of her formative years in India. The sights, sounds, and smells are forever vivid in her mind and she holds great respect and love for that country.

My mom turned to the woman behind her and, pointing to the tellers, said, “I think yours is far better than any of theirs!”

The woman was somewhat taken aback and said, “I beg your pardon?”

“Your costume!” my mom exclaimed. “It’s so much better than what any of the tellers are wearing!”

The woman straightened in her flowing saffron sari, a haughty expression on her face, highlighted by the perfectly round bindi on her forehead, and announced, “I am not wearing a costume!”


Mom vs. The Postwoman

When I was very young (single digits), summers often meant walks to the beach with my mom. We lived maybe eight or ten blocks from the ocean, though the closest part was all rocky cliffs and no beach. I’d say it was a mile and a half to the nearest actual beach. But the extra distance was no matter as it was always a nice little excursion along the meandering, tree-lined lanes leading down to the crashing waves, the sand, the tide pools, and that vast expanse of deep, deep blue.

On one such walk, I found a gold bracelet in the gutter. It had very small emeralds inset in each rectangular section. I gave it to my mom. She, being the good soul she is, took out an ad in the Lost & Found section of the local paper. No one called. I’m pretty sure she still has the bracelet somewhere.

But I digress. This story is about another walk.

Clad in shades of blue with his oversize brown leather satchel, our local mailman had passed us on the sidewalk moments before, readying envelopes for the next house on his route, lessening his load by a few small ounces at a time. While this had undoubtedly occurred dozens of times in the past, this occasion set wheels and gears flying into motion inside my mom’s head. She began wondering out loud to me why there are only mailMEN and never any mailWOMEN. (Mind you, this was the early 1970s and gender barriers at many workplaces were still rigidly in place. So this wasn’t as strange a question as it may sound these days.) Naturally, at eight years old, I had absolutely no answer for her.

We continued on our stroll under the clear, cloudless blue sky, the morning sun warming the air and our backs, and her thoughts soon left her unanswered question behind. Our conversation surely went off in other directions. While I can’t recall any clear details of the rest of the walk down or that particular day at the beach, something happened on the way back that is etched in my memory. We had just crossed the boulevard when my mom spotted her across the street. Clad in blue with the oversize brown leather satchel, she — SHE! — walked in the rear entrance of the local pharmacy.

My mom was stunned. Such an amazing coincidence! She had to know how long this woman had been working as a mail carrier.

After quickly admonishing me to stay right where I was, not to go anywhere at all, my mom hurried across the street and into the pharmacy after her heretofore mythical quarry. It couldn’t have been even a minute before she was back out and on her way across the street again. With a strange look on her face and a sparkle in her eye.


“I found her right away. She was waiting to be helped at the counter. I went up to her and asked, ‘I hope you don’t mind my asking, but how long have you been a mail woman?’

“She seemed confused and said, ‘I beg your pardon?’

“I said, ‘I’m sorry but you’re the first female letter carrier I’ve ever seen. In fact, I was just wondering this morning why there aren’t any and here you are! I just want to know how long you’ve worked for the Post Office.’

“She got the most offended look on her face and said, ‘Madam, I am NOT a letter carrier and I do NOT work for the Post Office!’

“I said, ‘Oh, I’m terribly sorry. I saw the bag and the blue clothes, and I just assumed you were.”

At which point in her recounting, my mom burst into laughter and said,

“She’s probably going to go straight home and throw that entire outfit away!”

I daresay she was right.

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Mom vs. the veil of death

This isn’t a funny mom story, but it is an important mom story. Now, I am not a religious person–at all–but this is a story that… well, I’ll tell it and then I’ll discuss.

Back in the mid-1970s, when I was around 11 years old, I recall waking up in the middle of the night because my mom was crying hysterically in the hallway. It was about 1am, and she was inconsolable. My dad finally calmed her down enough to find out what was wrong.

It was a dream she had.

She saw her dad sitting in his living room, in his favorite chair, and he died. She saw and felt the life leave his body. “It was so real, I felt it, it was so real,” she said over and over. After what seemed like an eternity (but was likely a half hour or so), she calmed down enough that we could all go back to sleep. As my dad said, it was just a dream.

At 7am, the phone woke us. My aunt Kate was calling from London. That morning, while the family was in the kitchen preparing for a birthday party, my grandfather had suffered a massive heart attack and passed away.

Sitting in his living room.

In his favorite chair.

At 9am, London time, which is, yes, 1am here in California.

So while I am not religious, I cannot be an atheist. There is something. Some connection that goes beyond this mundane world. I’ve seen it. It’s real.

Mom vs. …. any form of logic

Intercom call from mom at the office:

MOM: I can’t find that list I gave you and I need to make sure one of the cheques is being mailed to the right address. (She’s British, and after 55 years in the States she still spells the word that way, hence my usage.)

ME: Which one?

MOM: Well, it’s for Choi’s representative.

ME: I’m not sending it to Choi, right? What name did you have it going to?

MOM: Well, two people are living at the house, and…

ME: It’s only being mailed to one person, right?

MOM: Well, yes. It’s going to Christine.

ME: Alright, I have that name on the list of checks to go out. What’s the correct address so I can be sure?

MOM: Oh. I don’t have the right address, I only have the wrong one.

ME: <thumps head on desk>

I’m back — with vampires and pirates!

Life intervenes, you know? But I’m back. I’ll have new Mom stories and a mention or two of other stuff. But for the moment, I need to plug something. A comic book. Do you like vampires? Do you like pirates? Well, then, take a look at Vampyrates!

Vampyrates cover

Cover for Vampyrates issue 1

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