My mother was part of the generation you saw depicted on TV sitcoms like I Love Lucy, Leave it to Beaver or The Honeymooners. Wives of that era didn’t work for a living. They might have before they got married, but once they started a family, their job was raising the children and running the household. Suddenly, there was a mortgage to consider and household bills to pay. Many were forced to rejoin the workforce once the kids were in school. My mother was no different.
Except, having a job didn’t relieve them of their responsibilities at home. They still took care of the house, cooked all the meals and made sure you did your homework. But for those few hours out of the house every afternoon, they could escape. They had friends you didn’t know, went out to restaurants for lunch and had a real social life.
The mother I know was not prone to spontaneous acts of youthful exuberance—at least not when I was in high school. I’m sure my parents did lots of wild and crazy things before I came along, it’s just that I’ve never seen it. They’ve just always been Mom and Dad. Old black-and-white photos of them as young adults with relatives and friends told a partial story as everyone was always smiling and laughing. But I never saw her do anything remotely spontaneous that was just, well, let’s call it, silly.
Except this one time.
We had finished dinner one Halloween when the doorbell rang. Back then, it wasn’t unusual for a few stragglers looking for candy to venture out after dark. I answered the door expecting teenagers covered in shaving cream, but was completely shocked when I found two of my mother’s co-workers, Gracie and Lee, dressed up like bums. They were wearing old clothes, carrying shopping bags, yelling “Trick or Treat”.
Everyone had a good laugh when suddenly, there were strange noises coming from the back porch. As my mother opened the back door, two more of her friends lunged out, scaring the bejeebers out of her. I never saw her laugh so hard! Right before our eyes, a group of 40-something women were transforming into teenagers, and my mother was right in the middle of it.
Gracie, who was the ringleader, convinced my mother to go with them as they were heading to my Aunt Jean’s house (just a few blocks away) to scare her. Without hesitation, she changed into some old clothes to join them on this crazy adventure. Imagine, my mother going on an adventure!
My brother and I were stunned at this turn of events. Could this be our mother? She just didn’t do these types of things—whose mother did?
They succeeded in their mission to scare Aunt Jeannie and somehow convinced her to join the crazy train. They squeezed into Gracie’s car and headed to, of all places, Pinelawn Cemetery, walking amongst the dead and laughing like teenagers.
Soon, our regular mother was returned to us unharmed. She went back to enjoying life, enjoying her family and slipped back into her familiar role like you would a comfortable pair of shoes.
As we were reminiscing about their adventure the other day with my Aunt Jeannie, their eyes brightened, and their smiles broadened. The sisters remembered that Halloween night like yesterday, recalling the craziness and bringing back a flood of memories. It was one of the best nights my mother could remember. It was certainly her most memorable Halloween.
At the time, my brother and I could not believe what we were seeing. This was so out of character for my mother, I think we were just stunned as the events of the evening were unfolding. But my father seemed to take this unusual occurrence in stride.
Then again, maybe he had already witnessed this side of our mother and was secretly glad to see it reappear. After all, our parents were young kids at some point, often doing fun, spontaneous things. It was nice to get a glimpse of that life and see our parents differently, even if it was for only one night.
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.