Once upon a time when I was a small adult and my mother was a medium adult, she called me and asked if I wanted to come spend a week at her mountain house.
It was summer, and I was contemplating spending a week in Rehoboth in a rented house with roughly 14 other small adults, this being the only way any of us could afford to go to Rehoboth.
In the course of one phone call, my mother the con artist convinced me that it would be a gift to myself to forget about that idea and instead come to the mountains to to Be Her Guest. Those were her words. Be Her Guest.
Thus a few weeks later I happily packed up and headed the opposite direction of Rehoboth, looking forward to a week of Being Her Guest. When I arrived she served me a wonderful homemade dinner (my mother was a gifted cook) and suggested we tuck in early. Really early. Like still light out early. When I made vague noises about staying up late reading, she said not to, that we had lots of things planned tomorrow. And so I went to bed early, looking forward to an exciting day of Being Her Guest, Now With Activities.
The next day my mother hurried me through my coffee so we could get cracking on our mysterious doings. Then she put me in her car and careened down the mountain, randomly applying the brake from time to time for no discernible reason whatsoever. At the bottom of the mountain she stopped and bounded out of the car next to an incredibly rundown miniature golf course.
Tada! she said.
I stared at her blankly. Then she shared the most wonderful news: she had purchased this albatross of a business, and we were going to spend the day Checking What Needed Doing.
MOM, I said.
We won't be here more than an hour I bet, she said.
She was right, because after an hour we left to Go Get Supplies, which took the remainder of the day. When we finally went back to her house, I looked forward to maybe now Being Her Guest, but after a rather hurried dinner of takeout, she said it was time to Make A Plan Of Attack.
I went to bed hopeful that I might at least be able to sleep in a bit the next morning, but she woke me up early again so we could Put The Plan In Motion. The Plan In Motion lasted five days and consisted largely of me painting every inch of wood on the entire course.
Every evening I hoped she might cook again, but every afternoon on the way back from Our Project she'd swing the car into the parking lot of the little strip mall with the Kroger. After the second evening, we ate our takeout on paper plates, which meant we no longer called it dinner but rather supper.
On my last morning of Being Her Guest, my mother fired up the stove and made me her delicious french toast. I feasted on my second homemade meal of the trip and then loaded my bag into my car. Coming inside to say goodbye, I found my mother sitting at the table looking dejectedly into her coffee.
I've loved having you here, she said.
Thanks, I said.
Come back anytime, she said.
I'll come back soon, I said.
Really? she said, visibly brightening.
Really, I said, kissing the top of her head.
Be My Guest, she said.