Community Columns

When tables turn, just raise your glass

The summer of 2010 proved to be challenging. Frank’s surgery, along with Mom’s health issues, invited a host of anxieties, aka “scary monsters and super creeps.”

Although Frank regained his health and Mom reverted back to her gutsy self, the scary monster duo was still knocking on my door. Ah, me. I was under the impression that they’d hit the road years ago.

When I discussed feeling anxious with my son Greg, he was quiet for a moment and then said, “You know, Mom, it’s just a shadow of ghosts past. Everything is fine; it just scared the h— out of you.” After I hung up the phone, I pondered Greg’s words. My kid (he’s 46) was right on the money. His reasoning sent the scary monster duo scampering down the road. (For good, I hope.)

My son Jeff and his fiancà e, Olga, visited this summer. One morning, Jeff accompanied me on my daily walk. While we were quietly chatting about the summer’s happenings, he suddenly turned to me and blurted, “Don’t worry, Mom, you’re very resilient.” Out of the mouths of babes, I thought. But wait, this kid is 41.

There’s a lyric in “Fiddler on the Roof” when parents Tevye and Golde sing, “I don’t remember growing older, when they did they?”

When indeed? I guess it happened so gradually that I just didn’t see it coming; or perhaps I turned a blind eye to this startling fact: My kids are on par with me.

On a perfect summer day during Jeff and Olga’s visit, we headed to the beach. While Olga sunned herself, Jeff and I took a dip in the bay. Jeff started swimming and called out, “Mom, I don’t recall when we last swam together.”

Mom-brain kicked in and I was about to say, “I remember, and watch it … don’t swim out too far.”

Jeff beat me to the punch and shouted, “Mom, don’t swim out too far.”

Huh? That’s my line.

During the same visit, Jeff, Olga, Frank and I caught a movie on TV. This particular movie had many sizzling love scenes. Mom-brain thought, “Jeff, it’s your bedtime.” When I looked over at Frank, he was feigning sleep. (Wives know.) Jeff and Olga seemed nonplused, as I ordinarily would be. However, viewing the movie with Jeff was a bit over the edge, even for me.

Earlier this year, while visiting San Francisco, Frank and I, Greg and his wife, Julie, and Jeff and Olga decided to go to North Beach, San Francisco’s little Italy. We choose a charming restaurant; however, we had to wait at the bar for a table.

Well, there we were, one big happy family all ordering drinks when Jeff remarked, “Mom, this is a first; I’m drinking at a bar with you. It feels strange.” Greg added, “Mom drinking at a bar with us is strange.”

“So, what’s the big deal?” I said, trying to remain nonchalant, “We’re all of legal age.”

Greg and Jeff raised their glasses and said, “To Mom.” Then they proceeded to order another drink.

Lordy, lordy! Mom-brain was working overtime. It was a struggle not to say, “Guys, one is enough.” I ordered Mom-brain to simmer down.

Ah, then came the biggie: inferences regarding my age.

Greg: “Mom, maybe you should take it slower. After all, you’re pushing X {the magic number I refuse to have published).”

Jeff: (Looking at a photo of me.) “Wow! I guess that was taken when you first met Frank. Long time now, huh?”


Overall, I’m enjoying the role reversal. Greg and Jeff think they have me pegged. Well, almost. What they don’t know is that I feel a mishmash of admiration for the responsible good men that they’ve become and a protective tenderness for the little boys I remember.

And where’s Mom-brain in all this? She is, of course, active, thriving and learning to keep her mouth shut.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.