My Mother’s Voice

Alzheimer’s being the conniving thieving bitch that  it is, my mother wasn’t herself in the final years of her life. The  woman I visited in the Alzheimer’s special care unit was a stranger wearing my mother’s skin but not much else, like the invasion of the body snatchers had taken place, month after month beneath the surface, until one day we looked and the woman we knew was gone, replaced by some alien being. An imposter. Intruder alert. Intruder alert. She died back in 2012. Don’t worry; I won’t be getting maudlin on you.  My real mother–not that stranger in a wheel chair, head nodding on her shoulder–is who I want to think about today.  My real mother —Enid Maude Good nee Hayden, a prim, old-fashioned name, perhaps the only thing about her I didn’t love— was British-born and had a lovely London lilt to her voice her whole life even though she left England in the mid-1950’s. I suppose at thirty, her vocal patterns were already frozen in place.  Sounding like a cross between

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You Can Have Your Snow Day #ThrowbackThursday

Photo by Adam Kloketka via My Modern Met

I love the snow. As long as it’s out and I’m in. Despite the romantic appeal of the sound of the crunch of snow beneath a pair of brand new leather boots on a starlit Christmas night, snow is cold. Too cold for me.

Growing up in Canada, winter days could get so cold that not only did the freezing temps blanket the ground with two feet of white fluff, a severely cold winter could cause the falls to freeze over completely. That's happened this year, the cold snap transforming the falls into something from a sci-fi flick.

Back in my day, along with those snowfalls came some painful cases of popsicle toes. As a child, I’d hobble in from outside and stand next to the radiator, pain stabbing at my feet, tears pricking my eyes while my mother gently unbuckled my snow boots so she could rub my numb feet back to life. 

Living in Southern California my snow days, thankfully, are far behind me. Winter—real winter—has just never been my season. Even when my father made an ice rink in our backyard, hosing down the backyard, freezing slowly layer by layer, I never liked skating. My ankles hurt, and to be honest I wasn't very good at it, lurching around the skating rink like a toddler trying out their first steps. 

I went skiing a few times in my early twenties; spent a few weekends at Mammoth and Big Bear. Again, my ankles hurt, my muscles ached, but mostly my toes were just too damned cold. You go ahead and conquer the mountain, you can tell me all about it apres ski. I'll be inside with the fireplace, hot toddies and the munchies . 

While there have been winters when I’ve forgotten how much the cold and I do not see eye to eye, a quick trip up the 10 to Arrowhead or Big Bear reminds me I’m over that bad boy. I’m happy to live somewhere kids make angels, not in the snow, but in the sand. When our son Russell was growing up, the weather was never a reason to cancel school. Snow days? Not a thing. 

Speaking of Snow Days, here's a Throwback Thursday story about one of mine.

It was only a few miles from our gloomy old house on Ryerson Crescent to our family’s new split level across town in Cherrywood Acres but it could just as easily have been light years away. It was a whole different world out there in the barely built development where the cherry orchards used to be, everything bright and shiny and newer than new. 

We moved to the new neighborhood in the middle of fifth grade, in the middle of winter. I hated Niagara Falls in the winter, when sometimes it got so cold that the falls actually froze, the water turned into ice sculptures as it churned over the bank of the Niagara River. The cold, the snow, the ice and the hockey, I hated it all. But there was no escape. 

None of us three kids wanted to move away from our friends even if the new house was pretty and filled with light but our mother wanted that modern split level with the attached garage so badly she wasn’t going to let our whining ruin things. Instead she took us shopping for winter boots to wear on our first day at the new school. Like we were supposed to think it was some big treat. As if we’d be so thrilled to wear new galoshes that we’d completely forget how mad we were to leave our old school and all our friends behind. My brother wasn’t going to waste any part of a Saturday on shopping so it was just my mother, my sister and me.

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