I was 14-years old and watching TV on a sunny Saturday afternoon while popping peanut M&M’s with a can of Tab. I heard the vacuum go on—it was headed my way.
Here comes mom.
She had a habit of turning on the vacuum when my brother, sister or I were sitting around when we could be doing something else.
Mom reached the TV room, switched off the vacuum and sighed just as I stuffed the empty yellow wrapper in my pocket. “So,” she said, “is this what you’re planning to do all day, just sit around? What are your friends doing today?”
I told her I didn’t know.
“Why don’t you give Alison a call. Or Lili. I saw Shelley Greenwood at the store with her mom. She’s nice kid.”
“I don’t feel like calling anyone,” I pouted.
“Look, Laura, you sat around last weekend too. If you just wait for your friends to call you, you’ll be sitting around next weekend, and the weekend after that.” She was on a roll. “…and after a while, your friends will all be having fun together. They’ll be thinking ‘why should we call Laura? She never calls us.’ And you’ll just be watching TV and eating M&M’s “
Just as she reached to flip on the vacuum again, the phone rang.
“I might as well get it,” said Mom hoarsely, stomping into the kitchen. “It’s probably for me.”
30 seconds later, Mom walked back in suppressing a smile.
“It’s for you.”
It was my friend Linda. Did I want to go to that new movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?
“See you later, Mom,” I said shyly, just as Linda’s mom honked her horn to pick me up.
“Come here, Laura,” said my mom smiling, her arms outstretched. I walked in for a hug, and my mom squeezed me just right and shook with laughter. “I’m so sorry. I love you so much. We’ll be laughing about this one for a long time.”
And we did. That is the thing that I miss the most about my mom, those laughing hugs. I was lucky enough to get a lot of them from her. I loved Mom’s ability to laugh at herself, and her knack for smoothing out conflicts before they got too complex.
“Have fun, Laura.”