“I have to,” she said. “Your father wouldn’t know how to act unless he had a bowl full of pasta in front of him. Why?”
“How about I come over early so we can make it together?”
Mom looked at Dad. “Some transformation,” she tipped her head toward me, “huh, Michael?”
“Phew, I’ll say.” He reached for my hand and patted it. “But this is a good thing. Right sweetheart?”
“I’m just as surprised as you are, but I have to admit, I’m enjoying it more than I imagined.”
“What do you love about it?” Mom asked.
“The feeling I get when I place a plate of food down in front of someone and they swoon over the taste. It’s doing something creative from scratch. It’s love.” Saying the word only reminded me of Josh.
“Wow, there is a romantic inside that little mind, after all. I couldn’t have said it better. Food is definitely Love. And some day when you have your own family—”
I rolled my eyes because I’d been stupid enough to open the door. I glanced at Dad who been a strong ally.
“Hey, if you had married some nice man like Megan did,” Mom continued, “you wouldn’t have to worry about making a career change. You could be showing your love to raising kids and pleasing your man.” She released a humpf. “You know, you really missed your window of opportunity with Sam—”
Now it was me who was cutting her off with my hand in the air and a stern look.
“Well?” mom said, her face flushed, “it’s true. I know I promised not to mention the “M” word,” she said placing emphasis on the letter, “but now he’s married to Rosalie Fatucci.”
“And I’m very happy for him,” I interrupted, “as most people are.”
“How would you know?” She gave me one of her cynical grins, “You were checking up on him, huh?”
She began to wave her finger back and forth and I knew what was coming. “You’re regretting it, aren’t you? I told you this was going to happen.” She clicked her tongue, “I knew you’d live to regret it. But thank God you’re learning to cook because now you have the gateway to a man’s heart,” she patted dad’s belly, “is right through here. That is if there are any men left in your age group to get married. I’m sure all the good one’s are gone.”
“Lucy!” Dad shot back. “That wasn’t very nice.”
“Perhaps, but we’re not going to be around forever. I just want our daughter happy, Michael.”
“Eye yi, yi, yi, yi,” I sighed. “No, I was not checking up on him. I happen to be in his brother’s butcher shop and heard someone ask how he was doing.”
“I won’t rest until you have someone to take care of you when we’re gone.”
“Why? Are you going somewhere?” I asked. She gave me the shrug. I gave her the “I can’t believe you’re shoveling on the guilt” look. But then I had second thoughts about it. Maybe she was sick and didn’t want to tell me? Had I been too preoccupied with my own life that I missed something as important as this? I questioned further.
“Is there something you’d like to tell us, Ma?” I couldn’t help but feel concerned. She was only forty-eight.
“Well,” her voice changed to a low octave, “I could be going somewhere. You just never know.” She snapped her fingers together. “It could be just like that.” She shrugged, “Yeah, poor Mrs. Rossini, well you know, no one knew she was sick. And me? Well, I’ve had this pain.” She reached behind and began rubbing her lower back.
“Are you sick, Ma?” It was no secret mom was a drama queen, but this was something new. Or was this a new technique she was sure would get attention?
“Lucy,” dad’s concerned voice shot across the room. “What’s wrong? Have you been hiding this from me?”
“Well . . . no.” She shrugged. The lips pouted. “I worked hard today . . . it’s just that my back hurts. But, like I said, you never know. That’s all. I’m just saying.”
“So, you’re not going to kick the bucket any time soon, right?”
“I hope not, Cass. But you never know, kiddo. It could be any day.”
“Lu, so which is it?” dad’s concerned voice asked. “Are you sick, or just tired?”
The expression on her face cracked into a devilish grin.
“Mother. This isn’t funny. Not one bit,” I snapped back. “Is this a new ploy of yours to get me married?”
“Is it working?”