Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cruisin' with Nora

For Christmas this year, my mom gave us all a trip - a family cruise to Mexico that set sail on Christmas Day. My sisters and brothers-in-law and I have known about it since this summer but we kept it a surprise for the kids, who found out about it on Christmas Eve and screamed for about 5 minutes when my mom told them. Even as young as they are, they know what I know - a cruise would be fun . . . but a cruise with OUR family would be a BLAST.

I've told you before about how my mom can turn any conversation into a conversation about death or diabetes. And she can inform you of any tragic death that has occurred within a 50 mile radius of any given point. It's like her spiritual gift. And she loves to inform me and my sisters about the various ways that something bad might happen to us. For instance, I could be talking to her on the phone at, say, 10:30 at night and she'll say "What's that noise? Are you taking your trash out right now? You shouldn't do that so late! You don't know WHO is out at this time of night. Someone could grab you and drag you into the trees and we'd never see you again." This is her unique way of parenting . . .

ANYWAY . . . given my mom's predilection for morbid topics of conversation, I was surprised that she chose to go on a cruise to Mexico, of all places, given current unrest down there. I mean, I just MENTIONED traveling to Mexico last summer with some of my friends and she lost no time in launching Operation: Save Catherine's Life, forwarding me online articles of every bloody death that had occurred in Mexico in the last 5 years. This is how her brain works. But, strangely, she never even mentioned any concern about traveling to Mexico before we left for the cruise. I didn't really get it. And then something strange happened: since SHE wasn't informing us about all the possible manners of death that awaited us on our vacation, I found mySELF obsessing about it

First, there was the danger that we'd be boarded by Somalian pirates. Yeah, yeah, yeah - I know our ship was never going to leave the Gulf but that means nothing to me. And I daresay it means even less to the Somalian pirates. I worried that these pirates, being the entrepreneurial types, might decide to expand their territory one day and I did NOT want to be on cruise ship that marked the beginning of their expansion.

Second, I was concerned that I might fall overboard and be eaten alive by sharks. I even went so far as to google what types of sharks are commonly found in the Gulf. I was glad to see that no Great Whites are in the Gulf, though I wasn't sure what kind of comfort that might bring me as I was being eaten alive by Bull Sharks. But it set my mind at ease for a while. And it made me realize that perhaps I've watched too many seasons of Shark Week.

Finally, I was most worried about our time in Mexico. I mean, there's no worse way to end your family cruise than to have one of your family members kidnapped for ransom by drug cartels, you know? It would really put a damper on things. And no one wants that . . .

But, thankfully, once we got on the ship, my mom's true colors came out. And that meant that the natural order of things had been restored and I could stop obsessing about getting kidnapped by cartels and such. In fact, one afternoon she and I were standing on the balcony of our room, looking at the water. I was admiring the color of the water way out there in the Gulf - it's this deep sapphire blue and it's beautiful. I just stood there, soaking in the view. My mom was standing next to me and I thought that she was admiring it, as well - it was a cool moment. Aaaaaaaaaaaaand that's when she spoke up:

Mom: You know - when you look at the water from this perspective [pause, making me think she's going to say something profound], it's just . . . death.
Me: Wait - what??
Mom: It's just DEATH.
Me: [stunned silence]
Mom: I mean, you think if you fell over you'd be able to swim. But you couldn't. If you fell in there, you'd just be dead.
Me: Wow . . .
Mom: It's just DEATH.

Then, later, we decided to take our books up to the Veranda deck to enjoy the beautiful weather and get a little reading done. We found a couple of lounge chairs that were right next to the railing so that, as we read, we were looking out onto the ocean. We read for a while and then I stopped to watch the sunset. I, again, found myself just admiring the view - really taking it in and enjoying it. The fresh air, the sun setting, the blue blue water - it was all just so beautiful. That's when my mom piped up:

Mom: You know, looking out at the water like this . . .
Me: Mm hm?
Mom: I just can't help but think about all the sailors who died at sea during World War II.
Mom: Yeah - it's so sad.
Me: How can you look out at that view and think it's sad?
Mom: Because! All those poor sailors . . .
Me: Oh . . . my . . . GOSH.

I'm not sure if she even saw that the sun was setting. Because if she had, I'm sure she would have mentioned something about the number of people who have drowned at sunset.

Ahhhhhh . . . I DO love cruising with Nora!


Mrs. Porter said...

I think we might unknowingly share a mother.