Chapter 24. Mother People

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One day, another note appeared on my windshield:

"I think I have a clue for us, meet at McDonald's by Barbur Highway tonight 07:00 -Charlie."

I couldn't understand why Charlie couldn't just call. At least he left his name this time. 

I wasted no time sharing it with Sam, both insanely curious about Charlie's new lead, whatever that may be. Charlie had not talked since I broke the news that Scottie was presumed slashed. As much as I wanted to interpret his silence as conspicuous, I cut him a break.

But before we get to that, let's talk about when I went shopping with Mom.

My mother, Judi Hazan, was nothing short of complicated. Although we had our similarities, I always felt safe knowing I would never reach her level of irrationality. If there was something she did not understand or an obstacle that could not be overcome, she acted out in the strangest ways.

Take today, when she insisted on dragging me down to Fred Meyer for grocery shopping. She said she wanted mother-daughter time, I knew that that meant: she didn't want to offer the rest of our family as much as a single thought.

I had come to her late on Wednesday night to tell her I was worried about Isaac. She stroked my hair and said my brother was getting top-notch treatment at her psychiatrist office, and that no concerns needed to be addressed. But as reluctant as she was to admit it, Mom was extremely transparent. She had a hard time even looking at Isaac knowing something was terribly wrong.

So instead of acting on said concerns, she offered mother-daughter time, stocking up on party-packs of napkins and plastic wine glasses at the local supermarket in preparation for Hanukkah.

"Do you think Isaac would like this?" she asked, showing me a Gumbee clock from the sales bin, "it's funny, right? He'd laugh." 

Mom loved Isaac and me; we understood that much. In our times of need she would often approach us with some funny sales item, she found when she was out shopping, or crack open a new nonsensical conspiracy theory to distract us from our problems. It was her way of showing how she cared; it just didn't quite hold up.

"I don't think he's in the mood for jokes," I told her with a faint smile, hinting that I still thought it was a nice gesture.

"I'm getting this for your father," she said, throwing the dumb Gumbee clock in our cart, "he needs all the laughs he can get before your uncle gets here."

Another way to justify my mother's kooky behavior: Uncle Mal was coming to town from Seattle.

"You're right," I agreed, pushing our cart into the dairy department.

If you think Mom was an adult-sized child with her strange ways, she still didn't hold a candle to her brother-in-law. I'll give you three short facts about my uncle Mal: he was a divorce attorney with a community college degree and a part-time job as a stand-up comedian, he smoked more pot than I did, and rumors circulated that the IRS thought he was dead.

"Why is he coming on Tuesday, again?" I asked, "it's not Hanukkah yet."

Mom held her breath for a moment, grabbing two jugs of milk and a carton of half & half before she let it go.

"He said he got a comedy gig in Portland," she explained, clearly saddened by Mal's extended stay, "take it as a warning, honey. This is why you have to go to a good college."

I didn't even need her extra warning, Uncle Mal had always been my own cautionary tale for why I needed to get my life together at some point.

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