It's a sad story, really.
When I was 14, my mother died on this very day.
It was Memorial Day.
It wasn't all that unexpected.
Except if you are 14.
Then, it was unexpected.
She was, after all, my mommy.
She had been sick for about 8 weeks.
The cancer swept her away from our home on Palm Sunday.
Right after dinner.
She made us lasagna.
Because it was Palm Sunday.
She missed Easter.
My sisters and I stood on the hill behind the hospital in our Easter outfits--the ones that she had starting making for us before she got ill.
Her sisters--my Aunts Philomenia and Congetta had to finish them so we could wear them that day.
I was the only one old enough to enter the hospital---as were the rules at that time.
So, it was decided that we would let her see us together in our outfits--my aunts thought she would like that.
So, she watched us from her hospital room window as we modeled our fancy clothes and blew kisses to her.
By Mothers' Day, we figured out how to sneak my sisters in.
She came home on a Thursday.
The next Tuesday, she went back to the hospital again.
Before she left, she told me to quit deep frying everything in the electric deep fryer (that my dad bought me so I could cook while my mom was sick).
She said it made the drapes stink and it wasn't a good idea to fry hot dogs anyway.
Gee, and I had just got that recipe down pat....
The next Monday was Memorial Day.
I was swinging on the swings at the McNeilly Park (right next to my aunt's house) with my sisters and my cousins when my aunt came to get us.
I sort of knew it was bad news when I saw all the cars pull into my aunt's big driveway.
But, I was swinging.
So, I just pumped my legs higher while my sisters twisted around in their swings and my cousins flipped on the bars.
I remember it all.
I remember what was said.
I remember what their faces looked like.
I remember my Uncle Lou's primal scream as I came to the top of the steps--"your mama is gone!"
They were Italian, you know. Very emotional folks....
I remember my dad's crumpled shorts and wrinkled shirt as he sat in my aunt's gold velvet chair staring blankly into the sobbing and shouting sea of relatives and friends...his brother (my Uncle Pat) crouched beside him, trying to block the noise and commotion.
I went home and threw away the deep fryer.
And, I never deep fried again.
It's the last order my mother gave me and the last piece of advice she shared.
I wanted to make sure I got it right.