- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Growing up, a little “mom and pop” restaurant was a favorite among locals in my hometown. The greasy spoon—Tom Pig’s—attracted construction workers on lunch breaks, families on a budget and local government officials wanting to rub elbows with Average Joes while getting a good bite of food in a down-home atmosphere.
Located off the main drag downtown, the restaurant was my mother’s favorite place for breakfast—a place she dragged me to often as a kid.
Clanking silverware against plates provided a background orchestra for chatter over hot coffee often clouded by cigarette smoke. Sitting inside the stone faade building, I used buttered toast to sop up remnants of an over-easy egg, while I watched my mother carefully cut into ripe, juicy tomato slices on the side of her favorite steak and eggs.
For much of my life, I thought my mom was drawn to the hometown restaurant because of the food. A single mother, it was a treat to get away from home, just the two of us, and eat a meal prepared by someone other than she or I.
Often after our meal, I’d see my mom sit back, take a drag off a cigarette and watch a waitress as she milled about the busy eatery. Age has clouded my memory, but I recall that waitress’ dark hair was thinning, with gray peaking from her black curls.
I never saw her without her hair perfectly prepared—held in place likely by an aerosol hairspray that made sure she looked just as good when she got off work as she did when she started her shift. She wore an apron and balanced dishes in her hands and arms like a gymnast poises on a balance beam.
She offered pleasantries and small talk, taking time to get to know the people she served and recounting past conversations with regulars.
“She looks like my mom,” my mother told me several times.
My mom’s mom, my grandmother, died young, at age 42, after a succumbing to cancer. My mother was only 20 at the time and spent the rest of her life—like her eight other siblings—growing up without the watchful eye of her mother. As my mom and aunts and uncles marked milestones off life calendars, they did so remembering their mother and longing for days she was there.
Unable to turn back the clock and recapture time robbed by cancer, my mom found solace spending a few mornings throughout the year at a local restaurant, watching the busy waitress and remembering, at least for a while, what things were like when her mom was around.
Sunday, two years to the day my mother was killed in a head-on collision, I searched for solace of my own. My mother was 51 when she died and by life’s blessings I got nine more years with my mother than she got with hers.
Knowing the memorial day would be tough, friends encouraged me to do something my mother would like. In her honor, I perched myself at a local restaurant hoping, wanting and wishing someone who reminded me of my mom would walk up, serve me eggs and maybe offer a slice of fresh tomato.
But the similarities life had brought us ended there. My mom—truly one of a kind—could not be reproduced no matter how much I wished, remembered or longed for her. Instead, she lives on in memories and the occasional glance in the mirror where I sometimes think I see her staring back.
Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friendseethe older we get, the tougher it is to face the reality of how short life really is.
Two years ago, those who have already walked a similar life path told me the pain of loss never goes away. Wounds never fully heal. Tears never really stop falling. Instead, we grow, we learn, we change and we wrap ourselves in memories of how things used to be.