May I please go to the bathroom?

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When I was a child, doing dishes was the worst form of torture I could ever imagine.  We didn’t have a dishwasher so dishes were all done by hand and we all took turns washing and drying to make the arduous chore seem more fair.  But it was my least favorite thing to do.  I would have much preferred vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the bathroom, dry-walling, rotating and balancing tires or removing my own spleen….anything but washing those bloody dishes.

I don’t recall if the genius idea came to me in a dream or if I had a sudden flash of brilliance after one particular dinner but, once the meal had been consumed, I asked if I could go to go to the bathroom.  No parent can effectually deny a child the right to heed the call of nature, so off I went.

Once that bathroom door had closed and I had engaged the lock, I became a teenage version of a forensic pathologist.  I carefully opened each cupboard and slowly examined and took stock of its contents.   In essence, I took so much time doing absolutely nothing that by the time I unlocked the door and went back to the kitchen, the dishes were done and nobody had seemed to notice the length of my absence.  The plan was brilliant….until eventually my brother caught on to my shrewd strategy.

After his realization of my great scheme, my trips to the bathroom after dinner were much less regular (pun intended).  The guy that I looked up to, that I thought would battle to the death for me, had thrown me under the bus.  I could only try to tune out the sound of his laughter as he closed the bathroom door before I even got close to that portal of escape that would separate me from the dishes.  Perhaps I should have changed my strategy and just gone to the bathroom right in my chair.  That surely would have resulted in a swift and heady dismissal from the dinner table and a one-way ticket straight to my room!

As fate would have it, I don’t hate doing the dishes anymore.  I learned a very valuable lesson about cleaning as I cook so the pile of dishes at the end of the process is not larger than the house itself.  It is a rare day you will find dirty dishes in a pile in or near my sink but rest assured, they don’t stay there for long.

I should have saved at least one

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My mother and I never had a traditional greeting when we called each other.  Instead of the banal “Hi Mom”, I could not help but deviate to the voice and the very unusual way Steve Martin used the word in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.  If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know what I mean.  For those of you who have not had the pleasure of viewing this 1980’s masterpiece, allow me to introduce you.

When she was still with us, I would dial my mom’s number and when I heard her voice say hello, the first words out of my mouth were “Muther, muther”, doing my best to imitate Steve Martin as the classic character of Ruprecht.  She would always respond with an elongated “yeeeessss”.  It was our thing.  It was something only the two of us shared and it made me want to call her all the time just to hear that extended response because it made my heart smile every time I heard it.

It’s been just over a year and a half since she left and I still find myself nonsensically picking up the phone to call her.  There are still things in my life that I only want to share with her and, although I know she has all of the details of my life, I just want to hear her voice one more time.

I think back to all of the voice mails she left for me and I berate myself for not saving any of them.  Even if it was the most trivial narration of what had happened in the dining hall, that simple communication contained the timber and gentleness of the voice I have known for longer than I have physically been on this Earth.

Sometimes I think I have been able to pull that sound from the vault of my memory but it will always be missing that special element.  It will always be missing her, just as much as I am.