64: Gotcha!

64: Gotcha!

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom

Gotcha!

There is a wisdom of the head, and . . . a wisdom of the heart.

~Charles Dickens

“Please tell me I’m seeing things,” I said to myself as I drove into the driveway. On my front porch was Mother, waving her arms frantically and yelling in my direction. With her were two policemen. She was a sight in her multicolored muumuu with her hair in bulky rollers. The policemen appeared to be consoling her, with amused expressions on their faces.

“Where you been? Whatsa matter, you never heard of telephones?” she shrieked at me in her heavy European accent. I climbed out of my car and wished I could disappear! My new romantic interest was pulling into the driveway behind me.

That afternoon she had called me at work to ask when I was coming home. I had told her I would be there soon. But as I was leaving, the attractive new guy, Larry, asked me to have a drink and a sandwich. “Sure,” I replied nonchalantly. I had noticed him before, but it was the first time he had given me a second glance. I was excited and nervous. We went to the bistro next door, had a couple of glasses of wine, a bite to eat and a few laughs. We seemed to hit it off as we chatted. I found him delightful. Minutes turned into hours. You know how it goes. I didn’t want the evening to end so I invited him home for coffee. Since we were in separate cars, he followed me in his.

That’s when he had the pleasure of meeting my mother on the porch!

“You scared me half to death! I called the hospitals. I called the police!” Her ranting continued! I shuddered as I noticed that Larry was witnessing this fiasco. I questioned my decision to invite him home. It wasn’t the first time she had embarrassed me in front of my friends.

“You don’t care how worried you make your mother? You said you’d be home hours ago!” she went on.

Mom was a drama queen before drama queens were invented.

It’s not as if I were a teenager. I was already in my thirties and previously married. A grown woman living with an overprotective mother was not exactly the image I wanted to portray to my new beau.

Mom had come to stay with me for a few months. She was an old-school Eastern European matriarch who had a heart of gold but who could be tough as nails. Living with her was a challenge. But I reminded myself that the situation was temporary.

I introduced Mother to Larry and she led him into the house. I remained outside briefly, thanking the officers for their courtesy and apologized for inconveniencing them. Satisfied that no one had been hurt, missing or kidnapped, they left. I let myself inside quickly, not wanting to give Mom a chance to scare Larry away. It wouldn’t be the first time she had ruined a relationship. She could be downright rude to my friends, calling one a jerk to his face. Another was a bum. She was not one to mince words.

I found the two of them in the kitchen. Larry was sitting at the kitchen table. She had already served him a piece of her “famous” Czech pastry. She stood over him until she heard the word she had been expecting. “Delicious!”

She beamed. “I made it from scratch!”

I sat down silently at the opposite end and observed their relaxed conversation. They huddled together over his napkin, on which she had sketched a map of the “old country.” Larry said he had always admired people who spoke more than one language.

Larry took my mom in stride. Without trying, he had won her over.

To my surprise, he kept returning. Months later, Mom moved into her own place. But whenever she heard Larry was coming, she’d bring a special home-cooked meal she knew he’d like, to “put some fat on his bones.” As she patted her belly, she would proudly announce to anyone who’d listen, “I gained seven pounds since I met my Larry.”

I had resisted and resented her past advice about my love life. Although I didn’t agree with her meddling, I admit when it came to men, Mother did know best.

Actually, when I think of it, some of those other men really were “bums” or “jerks.”

Mom, if you can hear me, thank you!

Larry and I have been married twenty-eight years. Mom is gone now. But if I close my eyes, I can hear her loud sigh of relief, coming from the front pew, when the preacher pronounced us man and wife. Then she snapped her fingers and brazenly proclaimed, “Gotcha!”

~Eva Carter

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