This is a revised edition of one of my more popular posts from the last few years, originally titled, "Mom and the 28 Quarters."
A few people were asking about it, so I thought it was time to share what I embrace as one of my fondest memories of my Mom - and one of the more inspiring life lessons she left me with as part of her vast legacy of Love. So here we go:
"As many of you may know, my Dad died of lung cancer on April 6th, 1995. I was his primary caregiver for 18 months before then and, as anyone who's lost a loved-one in such a way knows, it's a life-changing experience - on many levels.
At any rate, after my Dad passed into spirit, it wasn a rough road for my Mom, emotionally. They were very close, and she was very dependent on him. She didn't drive, etc. So I tried my best to do what I could for her, even once attempting to move her to LA with me (to disastrous results).
Then, there were her memory issues.
However, for as long as I can remember, she always prayed for everyone - especially children. In fact, whenever she saw a child, she took out her rosary beads and said a prayer, right there, at that moment, wherever she was, asking the accompanying parent if it was okay for her to bless their child.
"Of course," they would say.
Then, every Monday-Friday, my Mom went to the Senior Center in Irondequoit, New York, which cost her about $6.00 a day - a price that includes lunch and service for the van (that picked her up and took her home). Thirty bucks a week for a senior's regular activities? Not bad at all.
At this simple-treasured Center, she also playes cards, attended parties and picnics, and played bingo. She especially loved the bingo. A whole lot, in fact.
I never realized how much really.
Until, one day, when I started giving her "extra" quarters with which to play the game. Not a lot of quarters. Just seven dollars worth. Not ten. Not nine.
Every other day, I'd walk into her apartment, and interrupt her daily viewing of Seinfeld or The Golden Girls, walk over to her, kiss her, and ask her to open up her hand.
At that moment, I would pour out the seven dollars in quarters, 28 in all.
As I did this each time, her reaction was one of astonishment. She looked as if she had won the lottery or the mega-jackpot in Vegas.
"Oh, Herbie J," she'd say with so much joy, "...what a great son you are! I have to pay you back! I have to pay you back!!"
"Mom," I would reply, "You just go have fun at the Center."
And she did, all the more...with that mere extra seven dollars of quarters.
Not a million. Not a thousand. Not a hundred. Not even ten.