May 9, 2004

Mother’s Day.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:33 am

My mother died about ten years ago, and I think about her every day, Mother’s Day certainly being no exception. Rather than even try to write the definitive piece about my mother (which could fill a book, the writing of which would turn me into a bowl of quivering jelly), I thought I would share a story that goes a long way to convey what kind of person she was and provide a sense of our priceless relationship.

I believe I was about five or six years old, when my mother took me along with her on the bus for the fifteen or twenty-minute ride into downtown Newark to do some shopping. The bus route crossed one of the bridges over the Passaic River that separated our town from Newark (for the Jersey readers, it was the Clay Street Bridge). The short ride was always an adventure for me, particularly the part that included crossing over the river on the bridge.

On this particular day, as the bus was crossing the bridge, I remarked, “I’d love to spit from the bridge.”

“Would you really like to do that?” she asked.

I responded that I would love to actually stand on the bridge that we had crossed many times on the bus and spit into the water.

Next thing I knew, she reached up and pulled the cord that controlled the buzzer signaling the bus driver to stop at the next stop. We got off the bus and walked the block or so back to the bridge. We walked to the center of the bridge, and I recall being amazed that I could actually see the water through the metal grating that was the “road” over the bridge, and I could really hear the singing sounds made by the car and truck tires as they passed over the grating. I had never seen or heard that from the bus.

We looked for a while at the “view” (It certainly was not very picturesque) from the bridge. Then she hoisted me up high enough to enable me to spit over the rail into the water.

After that, we walked the couple blocks back to the bus stop to catch the next bus into Newark.

Later in life, I asked her why she had interrupted her shopping trip and incurred the extra bus fare (money not being plentiful at the time), so that I could spit off a bridge. She said, “I wasn’t in any rush, and it sounded to me like something important that a little boy would want to do, so why not?”

She maintained that attitude until the day she died.

I don’t remember whether she spit into the river on that day, but I would not be surprised if she had.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.


  1. Aren’t Moms great?!? Thank you for sharing that. She sounds like a pretty great lady.

    Comment by Tammi — May 9, 2004 @ 2:10 pm

  2. That’s a great story. I lost my mother four years ago, and you’re right, a day does not go by. The small acts of tenderness are what humanized us all in the long run. We just didn’t realize what important work was being done at the time.

    Of course, some whippings humanized me, too. Beat the pagan right out of me, she did. I needed those, too.

    Comment by Velociman — May 9, 2004 @ 6:03 pm

  3. God rest your mom, James. I wish I had some of her rice pudding, bread pudding, or Polish prune cookie things right about now. But not as much as I’d like five minutes with her, to tell her how much all of us kids appreciate what she did for us as part of her extended family.

    Comment by Jack Bog — May 9, 2004 @ 6:46 pm

  4. Back in the late 70’s or early 80’s, Jack came back from his first years on the left coast as a confirmed vegetarian. Aunt Margaret ordered my father to have me and Jackie at your house by 9:30 Saturday morning.When we arrived, Jackie was ready to “straighten us out” about the evils of red meat.

    Aunt Margaret put a Taylor Ham sandwich on a fresh Kaiser roll in front of him, and told him “You know you want it”.

    She also had a wondeful tradition of coming to your new home or new car and then throwing loose change on the floor for good luck. I always ended up scooping up the quarters for beer money after she left. For a while, I would feel guilty about taking the quarters.

    Looking back on it, I think that she always knew that the quarters went for Budweiser. How Cool…

    Comment by cousin gary — May 10, 2004 @ 9:24 am

  5. I think about your mom often. She was a great lady who was always a lot of fun to be around. She was also there any time I needed her. I remember my freshman year in college, I was about 2 hours away without a car. I got sick and really needed to get home. My mom was afraid to drive that far at night by herself. Without hesitation your mom and dad hopped in their car, picked up my mom, and made the 4 hour round trip to get me home. And she was that way for all of us in the family. You could count on Aunt Margaret to be at every wedding, shower, graduation, even if it required flying to the west coast. She taught me what it meant to be family and how important it is to be there for one another. We were all lucky to have her.

    Comment by cousin annie — May 10, 2004 @ 9:50 am

  6. Gary, Jack, and Annie,

    Thank you for your nice thoughts about my mom (“Aunt Margaret”). She was the childrens’ champion, always. As you know, she maintained a close and often hilarious relationship with her brother (your dad), who was wonderful to her in what turned out to be her final years.

    Thanks again.

    P.S. I still toss change into new homes and new cars. I guess the beer is on me.

    Comment by Jim - Parkway Rest Stop — May 10, 2004 @ 10:38 am

  7. What a great story, Jim.

    It’s a rare woman who can understand the deep-seated male urge to spit off of tall structures; much less foster and develop it.

    Comment by Craig — May 10, 2004 @ 4:33 pm

  8. Your mother was a truly a classy lady.

    Comment by Kevin — May 10, 2009 @ 8:10 pm

  9. Aunt Margaret Was the best. As a kid I always new she would have my favorite sweets,Mounds and Pepsi cola and let’s not forget M&M’s. UNcle Andy always took us to Adams street for lemon ice.Real lemon ice. When I had kids of my own she would call me up and tell me to get a sitter so we could jump on a bus to NYC and catch a matinee and some lunch. Thursday night was bingo night. At least once or twice a week I would stop by with my two little girls in tow. Her and Uncle Andy would be sacked out in the living room watching TV. Never made me feel like I was bothering them,instead she would jump up and insist we stay and eat.(pot roasted meat balls was my favorite). I loved that woman

    Comment by Kerin — May 11, 2016 @ 1:52 pm

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