It’s been a little while since I posted a funny, nostalgic blog. I hope readers enjoy these as much as I love writing them. I love telling stories. I love nostalgia; I frequently reminisce on times passed with Boyfriend and friends. Most times I do not intend for a story to be funny. I might happen to share a tale and am surprised when a certain story evokes a guttural laugh. This type of reaction prompts me to consider posting it right here on my own corner of the interweb. On Tuesday, I told one such story to Boyfriend. This particular story involves the incredible woman who is my mother.
My mother celebrated her sixtieth last week. To look at her you would estimate she was fifty. She possesses a young spirit and amazing sense of humour. She and I are very close, but often clash due to uncanny similarities in our personality. Like me, Mum can be incredibly scattered in her thoughts. I rarely see this trait in myself, but Boyfriend frequently identifies it for me. I tend to re-enact incidents from my mother’s past. Like mother like son, hey? This story involves one such occasion when Mum’s scatty nature questioned my level of patience.
The story is set on one dull, typically overcast, wet Saturday in the Midlands of Ireland. Heavy sheets of rain fell from the heavens intermittently. Mum and I quickly returned to the car following an hour of shopping in Tesco. We also spent an hour browsing the limited range of clothing stores in the shopping centre. At this stage, I couldn’t wait to get home. I was damp and my bones were cold. We scrambled to climb into the red, beat-up Nissan Micra. Mum momentarily fumbled with the keys before she got into the driver’s side. Once seated, she reached across to unlock the passenger door. I jumped in, quickly shut the door, fastened my seat belt and longed for a hot cup of tea on my arrival home.
Mum secured her seat belt with a click and placed the key in the ignition. The key turned and the car let out an awful, slurred moan. I know nothing about cars, but instantly knew the battery was dead. Mum tried again only to be answered by the same noise. She turned to me with shock smeared all over her face.
“I wonder what happened?” She was clearly shocked by the situation.
I thought this a stupid question since it was bloody obvious the battery was dead. I sharply informed her of this.
“How did that happen?” she pondered aloud, still unable to fathom why the battery might be dead.
“Something must have been left on in the car before we got out. The radio shouldn’t drain a battery of its juice, but this is an old car.” I checked the radio and it was off. “Check if you left the lights on.”
Mum looked around the steering wheel. “Oh,” I heard her mumble. “I left the lights on. What will we do?”
“Are you still covered by the same insurance company that provides break down assistance?”
“Yes,” she responded as if awaiting an insightful solution.
“Give break down assist a call. We’ll have to wait for them.”
In that shopping centre car park, on a dreary, wet day, Mum and I sat in the little red Nissan Micra barely talking to one another The windows were fogged with condensation from our breaths. We kept watch for someone who might resemble a mechanic. I was agitated. I did my best to not blame her for leaving the lights on, but I knew this wasn’t the first time she had done this in the last few months.
“Mum, do you mind me asking when you last left the car lights on?” I asked in a curious tone. “I think I recall something similar happening quite recently.” I examined Mum’s face for a reaction. She appeared too innocent for my liking.
“I did this about a year ago. I think it’s OK to make the same mistake once in a year, no?”
I still wasn’t convinced. I had a vague recollection of my brother telling me Mum was late to collect him one day because the car would not start. While laughing, he told me she had left the lights on. I couldn’t remember the exact time and place of this incident.
I put this recollection to Mum. “I think you’ve left your lights on a number of times in the last few months? If it has happened so many times, maybe you should make a strong effort to ensure the lights are off when you get out of the car.”
“Stephen,” she said sternly, while looking me in the eye. “This hasn’t happened for a year”.
We sat in silence for around twenty minutes or so before a tow-truck pulled up alongside the car.
“Your knight in shining armour has arrived,” I said mid sigh.
Mum waved to the man in the tow truck. She rolled down the window as he approached her side of the vehicle. The man was in his forties. He wore blue, oil stained overalls. He stood beside the Micra, clearly not bothered by the rain. He ducked slightly and aligned his line of vision with the window. A flash of recognition came across his face.
“Hi, Mary. How are you?” he asked. “When I heard it was a red Nissan Micra, I thought ‘it can’t possibly be Mary again’”.
Mum laughed sheepishly and glanced over at me. The gentleman turned for the tow-truck and removed jump leads, which he had left on the passenger side of his truck.
“Looks like you two are well acquainted,” I said.
Mum didn’t respond.