I’m Still Living In Awe Of Mom’s Abilities


I have had people tell me they only read my column to see what my mother is up to.

My mother is 88 now, and she still is setting the bar impossibly high for her four struggling offspring. Not only does she kill us at Scrabble (her latest seven-letter word, stretched demurely across a triple word score last week, was “aquiver”) but she has ridiculously high moral and social standards.

I know where this started. It started when she was elected Alpha High School’s Potato Queen. Well, actually, she lost by one vote — her own. Out of moral decency unmatched anywhere in the world today, she voted for her competitor when the competitor voted for herself. So mom lost by one vote. In my mind, she will forever be not only Potato Queen but Queen of Decency and Decorum.

We four “children” (now almost all in our 60’s) will never be able to hold a candle to that.

The last time I visited her, she came home from exercise class at the Y (where they have her in the front row to serve as an example for the huffing, puffing, whining 60-year-olds behind her) and decided to fix the drapes. This entailed climbing atop the desk she refinished 30 years ago (at age 58) to balance precariously amid the tax returns (which my dad, also 88, still fills out himself) to take down the curtain rod and restring the drapes so they “meet correctly” in the middle. Accomplishing this task meant employing a complex algorithm of rope-and-gear math known only to people born before 1930. At least that’s how it seemed.

Her latest thing is computer repair.

You heard me right. Since her body routinely wakes up her mind at 4 a.m. — and because she is smart enough not to mount a desktop while the rest of the household is still asleep — she pads around softly looking for something to do.

Yesterday morning, it was fixing the computer — a computer which had become “broken” when my sister adjusted something which left downloaded photos the size of the screen, usurping mom’s ability to do anything else.

When mom discovered this, she was perturbed but unfazed. “I got out that book, Computers for Dimwits, and looked it up,” she told me over the phone.

“Dummies,” I replied.


“It’s called Computers for Dumm… Oh, never mind. Did you figure it out?”

“I did, but I’ll correct it tomorrow. I got bored reading all that techo-jargon,” she said.

“Don’t we all,” I muttered, having spent the day dealing with a reticent Facebook page to no avail.

“Are you still having trouble with Facetime?”

“Face… Er, um, yes.”

“Do you want to borrow the dimwit book?”

“No, that’s OK. I’ll wait until you visit, then have you fix everything.”

“Oh, Debbie, I don’t think I can fix everything! I’ve just begun reading the book!”

“What about the drapes? Did you know mine no longer meet in the middle either?”

“Your dad and I are coming down in June. Can it wait until then?”

“Of course,” I answered.

But what I really wanted to say was, “Sure it can, you mechanical genius whose intelligence and resourcefulness can never be topped. Do you know how difficult it is to be your daughter?”

Mom will probably never, ever realize how her children idolize her and spend every waking moment trying to be worthy enough just to touch the hem of her garment.

And, by the way, if the hem of your garment is too long, too frayed and/or too uneven, she can fix that, too, without complaining or bragging — and have it ready for you by 5 a.m.

Earlier if you need it.

I give up.