Waiting with Ma for the light to come on

By Dwight Collins | Apr 07, 2016

Camden — One of the things Ma [my mother] and I used to do together is eat. We both loved to eat and eat out. Although she really couldn't afford it, we must have eaten at least one meal a day that someone else cooked. My mom was a creature of habit, she didn't ever really try any place new, if she found a place she liked she was loyal.

We had two places in particular that she enjoyed, the lunch counter at the old Barnacle, once located where Maritime Farms in Rockport is now, and The Cedar Crest for breakfast. Almost every day, my mom would wake me up at 4:30 a.m. to get ready for school because we liked to eat breakfast. We were there by 5 a.m., just as the outside light would come on and we were usually the very first customers.

Being regulars, you get to know the people behind the scenes, whether it was Sue or Vicki waiting the tables, or Rose making the omelets, I could get anything I desired — within reason. Keep in mind, I'm 10 years old when this is taking place and to this day I remember what mom would order: two eggs over medium, bacon and and a grilled English muffin. She would take the muffin and bacon and make a sandwich and dip it into her egg, she took her coffee with cream no sugar.

My much older sister [sorry Stephanie, not really much older] used to meet us there  on average probably three to four times a week for breakfast and we used it as an excuse to sit and eat together, something we very seldom did at home. We were never in the same place at the same time, but we always seemed to find time for “coffee” no matter what.

It was the best breakfast in town. You make your way down a set of steps into the basement of the hotel. A narrow room with a counter on the left that separated the kitchen from the dining area and booths along the right with a large corner booth at the end. Early in the morning, we were the only ones in there, except one or two more early risers and men that delivered milk and bread to the restaurant. Bob Welch delivered the milk, I remember, and to this day we still talk about those cold February mornings where neither of us wanted to get out of bed.

That was our breakfast place. In the afternoon we would go to the Barnacle and sit at the lunch counter with the likes of the police chief, the local mechanic, and all the other coffee talkers in Rockport. I remember spending hours reading the comic books and playing the two video games that were there, while mom had coffee and socialized. Even for a brief stint, mom worked behind the counter. I guess if she was going to be there, she might as well get paid for it!

After every Little League game, she would take me there to get a hot dog and fries [my favorite food at the time] and fill everyone in on how the game went and how many times I walked because I had no strike zone. My mom was an athlete, so my lack of ability drove her crazy sometimes and that would eventually come out in conversation. I didn't mind because she would then feel guilty and let me get ice cream and for a fat 10 year old, that made it all better.

My mom taught me how to throw a baseball, a football, and the difference between a driver, a wedge and a putter. She also taught me that some of the best times are sitting and eating, talking with friends and family and enjoying the time we have together.

We take it for granted. It seems like a whole lifetime ago and the memories of spending time with Ma strapping on the feed bag are some of the ones I hold the closest. What I wouldn't give to do it one more time, just sit and talk — and eat.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Kathy Moran | Apr 08, 2016 19:04

Beautiful tribute to Joy, and to your family life, Dwight. I knew her for several years with the same caring and dedication to her work as a CNA, can still see her smile and hear her laugh.


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