Our Mom was fearless. She would cram however many of us that were going to Maine that summer in the car and drive. She was not a stopper, but she was an eater. On the trip to Maine, we were allowed to eat whatever we wanted.
I remember one trip when I was very young. I know I was young, because I remember my arms reaching up to slide the tray along the cafeteria counter. The counter seemed to me as endless as the Massachusetts Turnpike. The others were already eating when I slid my tray along the front of the warm side dish area.
“What’ll it be? Mashed potatoes? Baked potato? Or French fries?” the lady behind the counter asked.
“Yes.” I answered with the certainty of choice and firmness of first freedom.
“Yeah, but which one?” She smiled tiredly.
“Yes. Mashed potatoes, a baked potato, and French fries.”
“You can’t have all three. They are all potatoes. “
“But that is what I want: mashed potatoes, a baked potato, and French fries.”
“But you can’t have all three. No one eats mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, and French fries all at one sitting.”
“Well, you can’t.”
“My mother lets us eat whatever we want when we travel. I want mashed potatoes, a baked potato, and French fries.” Blue eyes defiant under straight blonde bangs.
At this point, I think, my Mom ambled back down the cafeteria line.
“Everything okay?” she smiled.
“No, your daughter wants mashed potatoes, a baked potato, and French fries, all at once; no one eats all that at one time.”
“I know, I know, but it is such a long car ride….” she sighed “Could you make an exception, please? I will make sure she eats right tomorrow…” My mother’s already arthritic hand went to my shoulder.
I smiled as I reached for the plate with French fries, the baked potato with its pat of melting butter, and the fluff of mashed potatoes, and I put it on my tray.