My Mom was one of those “unconditional love” types of mothers. Anything I did; anywhere I went; each and everything in my life was met with approval from the woman who birthed and raised me. In 1986, I was planning a trip from Albany NY to Philadelphia to introduce her to a beautiful woman I had recently met and had become infatuated with, and realized it was turning into a serious relationship.
To humor myself, I told my mother that she should know beforehand, that this woman she was about to meet for the first time, Peg, was short…very short. dwarf short. “I don’t want you to stare Mom, that’s why I’m telling you in advance. I really like her and once you get to know her, you’ll forget all about her being a little person.” Mom said she understood and thanked me for giving her the heads-up. “Oh, and there’s one more thing you need to know before you two meet.”, I added. “What’s that honey?” as I heard a slight hesitation in her voice. “Peg’s deaf in her left ear, so when talking to her, you should try to stand to Peg’s right side and towards her good ear.” “Really Alan?” “Yes Mom…Peg had a childhood ear infection and it caused permanent damage. If you just make sure to always stand to her right and speak up just a little, everything will be fine. Thanks Mom…love you and see you next weekend!”
On the drive down to Philadelphia the following weekend, I casually mentioned to Peg that I just remembered something she needed to know before meeting my mother. “Mom is deaf in her right ear as a result of a fireworks accident when she was a teenager. Just make sure when talking to her, you try always to be on her left side. Otherwise she won’t know what you’re saying.” “You’re kidding me right?” Peg asked. I was impressed she knew me more than I knew. “No, I’m not kidding. Why on earth would I kid about something like deafness. No big deal and I’ll be there to remind you if conversation becomes awkward.”
We arrived at my childhood home on a beautiful, sunshine-filled afternoon and Mom greeted us at the front door. She gave Peg a big hug, and looked my way saying”oh Alan, she’s not short at all! You devil you!” Peg looked at me quizically and I shrugged and rolled my eyes signaling the “oh, my crazy mother” look, and we all entered the house. For the next ten minutes or so I watched in silent glee the creation of my imagination as the two ladies kept moving in circles, jockeying for the right position in which to be speak and to be heard. And both talking much louder than normal, with the volume increasing as they were both thinking they might not be talking loud enough. It truly was a sight to behold before Peg realized the joke, and punched me so hard in my arm, my sister felt it four states away. My mother of course hugged me and told me what a great son I was, kidding his mother like that…unconditional forgiveness. It was one of everyone’s favorite stories to tell and re-tell over the years. I eventually married the faux hard-of-hearing dwarf and we lived happily ever after. Thinking and missing you Mom, and happy Mother’s Day to all the rest of the moms who gave and continue to give all their love to their children, no matter what.