My Gift To My Mother-in-Law


By Fred Moreno

Unlike many of my friends who periodically experience WWIII with their mother-in-laws, I love the mother of my bride. My mother-in-law has always treated me like her fourth son…wait a second, she only has two sons. Anyway, I know she likes me. Lately, I’ve been getting guilty feelings because I never demonstrated to her how much I really care. I wanted to do that before another holiday season has passed.

My wife was already in tears when I told her a little bit of my plan to make my feelings known to her mom. I didn’t even tell her all the details and she had already commuted my sentence that she imposed as a result of a prior infraction. Now I only have to sleep on the downstairs couch for two more weeks until I’m completely free.

“Josephine”, as she is widely known, but “Mama” to those who love her, has always been an active woman, but approaching her 90 birthday, she doesn’t get out as much as she wants. So for Christmas, I wanted to surprise her with a day trip with her son-in-law. Nobody else—just the two of us.

I picked her up at 2 p.m. and immediately noticed that Mama remembered to dress warmly. She had on a bright yellow ski jacket and an orange Charles Lindbergh crocheted hat. “Hey Mama, if you get lost, you’ll be easy to find,” I said. I didn’t drive three feet before she asked where we were going. I told her that she would have to wait until we got there. “In fact, Mama, I told your daughter we were going out, but didn’t tell her exactly where.” It made me smile when I looked over and saw the excitement in her face. Just me and my mother-in-law.

After a half hour of driving down the Meadowbrook, my passenger figured out we were going to the beach. “Yeah, Mama that’s why I told you to dress warmly. We’re going to have lunch on the beach—only kidding.” And then she saw the sign: “The Jones Beach Light Show.” I reminded her how she really wanted to see the holiday lights last year, but for whatever reason it never happened. And if this wasn’t enough, I informed her that afterward we were going to Boston Market, “for the best pot pie you ever had.”

My mother-in law sat expressionless until she asked what time it was. When I told her that it was 2:45, she reminded me that the sun was still shining. “But Mama, that’s the idea. If we come tonight to see the light show we’ll have to wait on line for hours not to mention how expensive it would be.” And with that I got out of the car and moved the police barricade. During our 35 minute journey, Mama kept repeating the same things, “I wish it were darker. I wish it were darker. We’re going to be arrested. We’re going to be arrested.”

We drove to Boston Market in silence. The first words were uttered by the waitress who said that they were out of pot pies. We settled for chicken wings and I ordered a small lemonade. Suddenly, Mama barked at the waitress, “I’ll have a Budweiser.” Then she corrected herself, “Make it a Bud Light.” Not sure why she looked at me when she said that.

When I drove up to Mama’s door, I apologized and said that I meant well. She said that it was nice spending time alone with me, and that she now knows what her daughter experiences every day. She promised to keep the details of the day a secret between the two of us. I promised to make up for it next Christmas if she didn’t tell her daughter.

My wife greeted me at the door and couldn’t stop thanking me for taking out her mother for the day. When she asked where we ended up going, I told her the truth….sort of.

“We drove out to Jones Beach to look at the fishing boats, then had a great dinner in that fancy restaurant in Islip,” I said. “You know the one with the couches in the lobby.”

My wife pretended that she knew the place I was talking about. “I hope those couches were as comfortable as the one downstairs where you’re going to reside for the next six weeks!”

“How long ago did she call?” I asked weakly.

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