She was a grand girl, my mother. Tall and elegant, demure and ladylike, all the traditional superlatives are fitting. But what made her unique, extraordinary, really, was her laugh. It was, whoa, explosive. When something struck her as funny, which it often did, she’d erupt with a whoop. She was helpless against it.
Years ago, in pre-Homeland Security days, my nephews and I sat at Gate A3 awaiting my mother’s flight from Florida. We’d prepared for this. Wait, that’s wrong,two of us had prepared; one of us was a 40-year old accountant in a 7-year old’s body. He flat-out refused to participate in our silliness. He’d sit, chagrined and two seats away, but he drew the line there. The little twerp.
The 4-year old was game. He’d try anything. So we sat and waited for the announcement. When the aircraft pulled up to the jetway, we put on our disguises, the old fake nose and glasses, and raised our newspapers. No one paid the slightest attention, they didn’t give us a second look. To the casual observer, we were simply two pairs of legs: one under the sports section, another below the front page. Nothing more.
Minutes ticked past until I heard my mom’s voice, ‘No, no, they’re going to pick me up.’ It was go time. I nudged my nephew and we lowered our papers. My mother, bless her heart, exploded in unabashed mirth.
Let me tell you: people were startled, alarmed. They had no idea what led to such an outburst. They looked around, seeking a cause, and I ducked behind my newspaper, red-faced and unnerved. One nephew grinned like a pumpkin; the other glared in squinty-eyed disapproval.
My mother, meanwhile, was helped to a chair. She couldn’t draw breath for laughing. It was mortifying and a triumph.
I miss her. Still. She was the greatest friend I’ll ever know.
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