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Monday, June 24, 2013

The Sunday Ritual

"What do we have in life, really? If we're lucky we get to a certain age, and we have each other. We have the food we like. We have our crazy little rituals. And we have each other."

David O. Russell 
(from HERE)

For almost a quarter century I took my mother grocery shopping on Sunday afternoons.  Just about every Sunday afternoon.  I would arrive at about noon.  My mother (and most of the time my younger brother Joe as well) would take a few minutes to get ready and we would head off.  I helped my mother with financial matters, so sometimes we would need to stop at an ATM (my mother couldn't see well enough to use the ATM, hence my assistance was needed) and then head off to a store or two to pick up some stuff.  From there it was off to get something to eat, at the restaurant of Joe's choice, which meant that it was almost always Pizza by Pappas.  The last stop was to a supermarket, which over the last 10 years or so was always Gerrity's in Moosic.  Once back home I would pay bills for my mother (I would write out the checks and she would sign them...sort of...and it's a good thing that staying on the signature line is apparently optional in banking), and do any small repairs that were needed before the Sunday ritual ended, usually in the neighborhood of 3-4pm, depending on the stops made, bills to be paid and repairs to be made.  I wasn't all that fond of the last Sunday of the month, as that's when I would need to reconcile my mother's checking account against her freshly arrived bank statement (a time consuming process).

Now over the years the ritual did vary somewhat; for example towards the last few years of her life my mother increasingly had difficultly walking for extended periods, so the shopping before eating part slowly evaporated.  I'll also note that I would, as needed, take my mother places during the week, if required.  On those rare Sundays when I couldn't partake of the ritual...mostly due to a vacation on my part...I would also take her on the Saturday before leaving or the day I returned.  For my part, there were very few things I insisted on in the ritual; the two that come to mind actually had more to do with my brother Joe than anything else:

1) I refused to eat at Burger King
2) I would insist that we sat at a table, not a booth

The latter was because I would end up sitting next to my brother and I inevitably would end my being short-changed in the space department.

For the record, I didn't always enjoy the Sunday ritual.  My mother could be very difficult, and I do confess to waiting until the very last moment to get it started.  Part of what made it difficult was the fact that while yes, my mother could be difficult, she could also be very nice on occasion.  She was incredibly unpredictable, making the whole endeavor very stressful.  When she was in a good mood, the time went by quickly, but in reality there was very little rhyme or reason to it all.

By and large though, over more than two decades, the guts of my Sundays were devoted to the above described ritual with my mother.  I do confess to having many Walter Mitty-esque thoughts about what it would be like to actually have a Sunday to myself.  A Sunday to actually plan stuff to do on, a Sunday to maybe even relax.  Now I do have that kind of Sunday, and even a few Sundays in, I still find myself adapting.  It seems, well, "odd".  Part of me seems to be thinking that I'm neglecting something.

Time to create a new Sunday ritual (or two).

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