Just the Ticket

Today is my mother’s yahrzeit. Today marks the 7th anniversary of my mother’s death. I can’t believe that it was seven years ago. Seven is a significant number for us Jews. We sit shiva for seven days after a person dies.  I’m surprised that there isn’t some ritual or blessing or special thing that one does when a person has been dead for seven years.

Somebody once told me, “When we are grieving, our hearts are open. When our hearts are open, it is a time to receive.” The same person told me you don’t get over grief. It is always there. Some times it is more active than others. Today it is active and today my heart is open and in my heart is where I found the significance.

So here’s the significant story.

My kids think that I am perfect. Or perhaps they think that I think I am perfect and expect the same from them. Alas, it is definitely not true. I am not perfect nor do I expect them to be. Nevertheless, I refrain from regaling them with stories of my not so flawless and somewhat adventurous youth. The mistakes and missteps I made along the way have led me to where I am today and I turned out pretty decent. So I see no need to tell them the nitty-gritty details of the fun I had straying from the path before my frontal lobe was fully formed.

Of the few stories that I have been willing to share, now that my girls are closer to the age I was when these events happened, one became significant this week.

I went to college in west L.A. where parking was at a premium: on campus, in public parking lots and on the street. I got a lot of parking tickets. Some were for expired meters, others were because I forgot to move my car on street cleaning day and a lot were just because I was too lazy to find a legal spot. In this instance I did not learn from experience. Ever the optimist, I continued to challenge the odds on a regular basis and park my car in places where it was not welcome. Of course the odds were ever against me and I collected a series of parking tickets.

Then I would forget to pay them. Yep. I’d put the ticket in a pile of things to take care of and forget about them as I immersed myself in my studies and also driving around L.A. discovering the city and new places to illegally park.

Since the car was registered to my father’s name and address, notices of unpaid fines were mailed to my childhood home in Buena Park. That’s when the phone in my dorm room would ring. My mom would call and tell me that the notice of an unpaid fine came and that she paid the ticket so that my father would not find out. There’d be some scoldings, but not really any threats of punishment. Considering how many tickets I got, it did little to deter me from my wayward parking habits.

I often drove the 40 miles home to visit on the weekends. My parents were always happy to see me. At some point over the weekend, my father would pull me on the side to inform me that a notice came in the mail for a parking ticket. He also let me know that he had kindly paid it on the sly so that it was taken care of before my mother found out about it. He was less likely to scold.

I couldn’t tell you how many times this happened, probably not too many or my parents would have gotten angry at some point. But in later years it became a favorite story that my mom liked to tell. Those parking tickets became a significant memory illustrating both my impetuous ways and my parent’s tolerance for their youngest and somewhat impudent child. On one occasion or more, my mother would cheerfully threaten, “I hope you have one just like you some day!”

Well, I had one, about twenty years ago. I don’t know if she is just like me. Neither of us is perfect, but so far she hasn’t gotten into too much trouble, except for the parking ticket last week. She recently moved to San Jose. Parking is at a premium in her neighborhood.

On Thursday I woke up to a text from her at 6 AM, “I got a parking ticket.”  All I could do was laugh. “Welcome to city life,” I responded. And then I offered to pay it for her, just this once. It seemed like the right thing to do since my parents bailed me out so kindly when I was her age.

I really missed my mom right then. I ached to call her and tell her the story. She would have laughed out loud.

The timing of this event is significant. My mom is always on my mind and in my heart and in my head, for sure. This week, however, she is more. I can feel that the grief is a bit more active and my heart has been a lot more open. They say that paybacks can be a bitch. But this one is a blessing. It is a story that comes full circle, connecting me to my mom and my memories and bringing the past into the present for us to enjoy in a new way.

 

 

 

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Martha Gershun
    May 28, 2017 @ 12:46:30

    Beautiful, beautiful story.

    Reply

  2. ruthtberg
    May 31, 2017 @ 14:15:47

    Lorri, I loved this. I sent it to my mom.

    Can it really be 7 years already? Amazing.

    How can I hook up with you this summer?

    Love, Ruth

    On Sat, May 27, 2017 at 11:48 PM, Being Jewish in Hawaii wrote:

    > Being Jewish in Hawaii posted: “Today is my mother’s yahrzeit. Today marks > the 7th anniversary of my mother’s death. I can’t believe that it was seven > years ago. Seven is a significant number for us Jews. We sit shiva for > seven days after a person dies. I’m surprised that there isn’t s” >

    Reply

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