by Nicole Crews
Me: Mother, are you afraid of dying?
Mother: No, I’m afraid you’re going to forget to bring me that ice cream.
Me: Mom, I’m serious. And you don’t need to be eating that much ice cream.
Mother: Nicole, I’m counting days — not calories.
No one likes to talk about the fact that death, like sleep and/or the right mix of substances, contains within itself a certain amount of freedom. Facing it head-on gives people the abandon to say what they think, do what they like and feel whatever they want to feel. None of these inhibitions were of very much use to my mother long before her death sentence — but once she put her eyeball to the barrel, there was no blinking. Here are a few of her last words and remembrances in 2015 — in short, All She Wrote.
On rap music:
Me: Why does it surprise me every time a rapper goes to prison and comes out with better lyrics?
Mother: It’s survival of the Fiddyest.
Mother (yelling from her room down the hall from the guest room): Wake up and come here!
Me: Omg what’s the matter!? Is it your heart? A stroke?
Mother: Wu Tang is on “Saturday Night Live.”
On real estate:
Me (Stamping my foot Marisa Tomei-style in My Cousin Vinny): Why, why, why are you selling the New York apartment? I’m just getting old enough to use it.
Mother: You just answered your own question Socrates.
Mother: Your house seems like a lot of trouble.
Me: Well it would be no trouble like yours if I had a maid, gardener, handyman and a mortgage banker beating on my door.
Mother: The difference between us is that you dated those occupations. I hired them.
Mother: You never know a man until you see him on a boat, on a mountain or in the cut.
Me: How about in his cups.
Mother: Well, that’s a given.
Mother: So I guess that now that you’ve dated a construction guy, you’ve essentially dated the Village People.
Me: I’ve never dated a cop.
Mother: Really, what do you have against cops?
Me: Nothing, but like the Bukowski character in Barfly, I just seem to feel better when they’re not around… wait, when did I date a military man?
Mother: Your West Point boyfriend.
Me: Oh right. And I guess you are counting the gay Navajo guy I used to garden with.
Mother: Why are you home so early from your date?
Me: None of your business.
Mother: Nicole, your love life is not a business, it’s a conundrum.
Mother: What are you wearing to the Christmas party?
Me: A loincloth and a crown of thorns. What’s more Christmasy than Christ?
Mother: Sigh. Why do you always have to make such a statement?
Me: Because somebody has to.
(Scene: Driving from the lake on Mother’s Day in a bikini with a bucket of chicken and emerging from the car to greet mother.)
Mother: Jesus Nicole do you even own any pants?
Me: Says the woman who greeted my high school date at the door wearing one of dad’s white undershirts and little else.
Mother: Well, we didn’t have air conditioning.
On the South:
Mother: When I moved to North Carolina from New York in the 1960s I was told, ‘Ladies in the South don’t wear eyeliner.’
Me: What did you do with all of those little black dresses that were verboten?
Mother: Ugh, don’t get me started. John Christian Bernhardt’s wife took me to Montaldo’s and bought me a pink shift with a pink and green scarf.
Me: It sounds kind of pretty.
Mother: You would think so, you’re a half breed.
Me: Do you regret raising a daughter in the South.
Mother: No, I put you on skis and ice skates when you were 2 and taught you to sail on the Great Lakes. I think you’ve got what it takes to survive in this world.
Me: That’s all it takes, huh? Minnesota sporting life. Pity you didn’t instill ice fishing so I could eat.
Mother: Teach a man to fish and he’s got dinner. Teach a man to sail and he’s got transportation.