Thursday, May 14, 2020

Saturday Mornings with Susan

It began during my freshman year of college. With long distance calls still being relatively expensive during the week, and my mom being, well, who she was, my mom and I had weekly 8 am Saturday morning phone calls. The rates were cheaper, and my mom wasn't particularly busy then, but most importantly, what trouble could I possibly get in on a Friday night when I had to call her so early the next morning?

My roommate, Carol, was not a fan of these calls. I eventually purchased an extra long phone cord, and had to do these calls sitting just outside the door of our room, in the hallway, while she continued to sleep. I didn't blame her at all.

The ritual of these calls continued long past college. My mom started sleeping a bit later over time, and many Saturday mornings I would go to synagogue with my family. But the need to call my mom each weekend always hung over me. She was very particular about when she would want to talk to me: not too late, not when my Dad was available to watch TV, not when she was eating. Her timing often didn't mesh well with mine. The kids had a birthday party or a play date, or I had some errands to run, or some actual plans of my own. I'd try to call on Sunday instead, but that was clearly not what she wanted either. Sometimes, more often than I wanted, she wasn't happy when I called her. But I stuck with it all these years, and spoke to her the Saturday afternoon before she unexpectedly died the next morning.

During these last few weeks, I will admit that for many reasons it's been a relief to be free from these conversations. I'm not a great sleeper, and with nowhere to go now, I don't have the motivation to get up early, definitely not 8 am on a Saturday morning anymore. This past weekend was the Saturday before Mother's Day. Lots of kind people reached out to see how I was holding up that Sunday, but they didn't know that my mom had already made herself known the day before.

Still not wanting to get out of bed, I decided to treat myself to the Shahs of Sunset reunion episode on Bravo, but for some reason, I guess it didn't air. Most of the things I watch these days involve Hannah, so my remaining options on my DVR were limited. I put on an episode of NBC's "Indebted," a show starring Fran Drescher (of "The Nanny" fame) who moves in with her adult son and his family after going broke. It's not one of my favorites, but funny enough, a fine way to pass half an hour. I had four episodes left to watch, the first of which had aired four days after my mom died. Shortly after this episode began, while setting up the plot, Fran's character is telling her family an anecdote about someone that is tangentially related to whatever is happening. It's a familiar part of the routine of this show, and Fran often mentions some Jewish-sounding so and so. Only this time, it was my mom. Watch this (volume up, it's hard to hear).

Fran's talking all about her friend, "Susie Pollock." Now my mom was Susan, but lots of people called her Susie. She didn't like it, but they did, and now, three minutes in to my Saturday morning distraction from life, and they're talking about her on TV. Or she's talking to me. (And for the record, this daughter of Susie Pollock is not pursuing any form of procreation.)

Unlike past episodes, or at least not that I'd ever noticed before, they went on to mention the same Jewish so and so, my mother (!), three more times during that episode. I know that they'd never mentioned that character before, because surely I would have heard it, even if I wasn't paying the utmost attention as I watched. Honestly, I was a bit freaked out. The coincidence is uncanny. Her name was somewhat common, but even in the Jewish world, there are a lot of other names that could have come up before Pollock. If she had been alive to see it, I think even she would have been shocked, but now that she's not, and it was my first time watching this show since she'd died, and it was when we normally would have been talking, and, and, was a lot to take in.

It was my first Mother's Day without my mom, but kind of not really.

Two days later, I watched another episode without incident. I was feeling emboldened, and I put on one more. And then right from the start, this.

Now, this time, I really couldn't believe it. I paused the show just after "Susie Pollock is ...dead" and ran into Hannah's room to get her. We then watched the rest of the scene, and were relieved to know that *this* Susie Pollock is resting comfortably in Florida.

But COME ON. I've literally never talked to anyone about this show. I know it's on a major network, but I don't know anyone else who watches it. These episodes aired weeks ago. It's a lot, right?

I finished the remaining episodes without further incident. The season wrapped up neatly; I have no idea if Fran and her friends will be picked up for another season. But if they are? I'll be watching for another hello from my mom.

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