The Hampton Smoker

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Motherless Child: Random Musings

This site is normally about food-- BBQ in particular. I hope to be able to cook some this weekend. I'd like to do a case of briskets. This would enable me to spend most of the weekend with my mother, which is what this post will be about. Anyone interested solely in food can scan down to the bottom.

She is lying in a hospital bed in the middle of the living room. A hospice nurse sits beside her, my father in the chair in front of her, with his back to her looking at the same huge tv screen that she is looking at. My brother is in one chair, my wife sits beside the nurse on the sofa, and I am standing, leaning against a wall and watching...fidgeting. I can't stop moving, have to be doing something. This is how we are waiting.

Time is running away from us. We all know it. There is an immovable wall between us and the future. There
are facts of life, or living at least, that are immutable. Most of the time we force ourselves to ignore this. We build a wall inside of ourselves to shield us from the end but, like a Telltale Heart, the throb is constant.

All we can do is wait now. I took my father to Hill Country the other day and was able to introduce him to Big Lou, show him the pits and signatures of celebrities-- some of whom my father knew-- Mayor Koch, among others. He shook hands with the Owner, GM and others. They were saying all kinds of nice things about me, I have to admit, which made me and my father both proud, and I was humbled knowing that he would later report all this to my mother. Too bad Robbie wasn't there. One of the many uncontrollable imperfections of this all.

My mother was the one who taught me about diversity and tolerance, to be respectful to women and minorities; to hear the beauty in both paintings and music, dance and the theater. All of this was important to her. I knew she would appreciate the news from Hill Country because, in her youth, she mingled amongst rock stars and other celebrities that she met growing up in Brooklyn. I also took my dad and my brother for dim sum at Perfect Team Corporation because I knew how much they would enjoy it and the distraction.

My Father has enjoyed watching my modest successes because his family was always working on the fringes and, at times closer to the heart of politics and business in and around New York City. My father's mid-level profile in New York's power elite, which he in large part inherited from my grandfather, enabled my parents to continue to mingle their way through the Studio 54-era in New York City to the Hamptons where the most relaxed and familial spirit we knew inhabited our family. Where my father slumbered on a float in the pool with a mystery novel on his chest--face down--- and his sunglasses dangling on his face while my mother sat inside, half-watching a black and white movie while furiously working on the Sunday Times Crossword Puzzle. My brother, in his room, music forever playing and my sister on a beach with her dog who is exploring the surf. When asked about the movie, my mother, invariably wouldn't even know the title, just that it passed the time well with a bag of pretzels and the puzzle.

It didn't matter. Like none of this matters, in a way, right now, but it filled us with joy to be in our favorite place and, most importantly, together, as we are sitting in the living room with her, enjoying these desperately fleeting moments while we can still laugh and smile and share together...The way she wants it to be and the way we will always remember it........

My mother in East Hampton, NY Memorial Day 2006

Food Content: Click Here for the Slideshow of Day 2 at Perfect Team Corporation


Blogger WhiteTrashBBQ said...

Wow. Please read your post to your mother. Even if she can't respond, I do believe that she'll hear it on some level and it will make her very proud of her multi-talented son.

My thoughts and prayers are with you.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Smoker said...

Your mom has instilled in you all the right things. You will continue to make her proud.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You certainly have a way with words my friend. I sit here in OR with tears in my eyes as I sip my morning coffee. Thanks for sharing it all (good, bad and ugly) with us. I hope writting about all of this helps you to feel your way through these difficult times. Seems as if it may be. You seem to have such a good perspective an everything. I admire your courage. My heart goes out to you and your family.


12:09 PM  
Anonymous Sandy said...

Hi Matt,
I have so enjoyed your words about your Mom... they have warmed this very old heart of mine.
After reading your post on the NBBQN forum,.. I wanted to "see" who you are.
Now? I know...
God bless you!!

5:47 PM  
Blogger Curt McAdams said...


Dealing with some things here and reading your blog today got me misting up... I know that you have an incredible love for your mother, from the times you've written about her.

It's got to be good for your parents to have a son that loves them.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Backyard Chef said...

I want to really thank you all for for all of the kind words, the emails and the feeling of support and love that I've gotten from you. I won't ever find a way to express what it means to have you all as my friends.

10:53 PM  

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