I rolled over and threw the pillow over my face, then heard a loud throat-clearing sound in front of me. A plump elderly woman resembling Mrs. Santa Claus was floating in front of my bed.
“Happy Mother’s Day!” the woman said. I realized that it was Grandma Flynn, my paternal grandmother, looking remarkably spry despite being dead for nearly 40 years. I jolted awake in an instant.
“Grandma! What are you doing here?”
“Why I’m the ghost of Mother’s Day Past,” she told me. “You looked like you were about to sleep away Mother’s Day, so I decided to take you on a little trip.”
In an instant, we were both hovering over my childhood home, circa 1969. The kitchen looked like a tornado struck, with pots, pans, dishes, food and stickiness everywhere. A 7-year old me was carrying a tray of food into my mom’s bedroom, along with my siblings Tammie (6), Michael (5), and Teri (4).
“Happy Mother’s Day!” we shouted in semi-unison.
My 27-year old mom shot up and glanced at her alarm clock: 6:00 am. She stared at our breakfast: cold burnt toast, charcoal-colored bacon, runny eggs, and unstirred orange juice made from concentrate. A clump of frozen pulp spilled on the bedspread as the younger me set the tray down.
“Breakfast in bed?” my mother gushed. She took a big bite of the black toast and smiled a truly genuine smile.
“This is the best Mother’s Day ever!” she declared as she pulled us in for an enormous group hug.
My floating Present Day self turned to Grandma Flynn. “Wow. She actually ate it. Yuck.”
“Your mom was a good woman,” my grandmother said.
“She still is,” I replied.
Then Grandma Flynn brought me back to Present Day and I saw that it was still 10:15 am. No time had gone by.
“Why are you showing me this, Grandma?” I asked.
“Because it’s Mother’s Day and you just want to sleep in rather than let your children fix you breakfast in bed.”
“But I hate crumbs in my bed,” I said. “And even though the kids tell me they’re going to clean up the mess, I know I’m the one who’s going to end up mopping the kitchen. I just want to sleep in and go out to breakfast.”
Grandma Flynn shook her head sadly and started to float away.
“Wait, Grandma!” I called after her. “Why are you leaving?”
A moment later, an animated Jane Jetson appeared in my bedroom and transported me in her futuristic hovercraft. We flew to a nursing home. And there I was, lying in a bed wearing really ugly pajamas. And if I thought I looked flabby and wrinkly at 49, it was nothing compared to what I’ll look like at 85.
A nurse walked into the room with a tray of cold oatmeal. “Happy Mother’s Day,” she greeted me. The nurse started to feed me as oatmeal dribbled down my chin.
“No! No!” I cried. “Please don’t let this be my future, Jane Jetson! Let me go back to present day Mother’s Day! I can change. Let me eat the burnt toast!”
A second later, a grown Emily and Mary walked through the door of the nursing home.
“Mom! You’re not dressed yet?” Mary asked, shoving me out of bed.
Emily pulled a sweatshirt over my head. “Our reservation is in half an hour!”
A moment later we were at a huge brunch buffet, joined by a grown-up Jake and a bunch of my grandkids. Jane Jetson rolled her eyes and heaved a heavy sigh.
“Oh. You’re one of those.”
“One of what?” The Present Day Me asked.
I stared at Jane cluelessly.
“Burnt Toast Reformers,” she clarified. “One of those moms who convinces her kids that she’d rather sleep in and go out to breakfast than wake up at the crack of dawn and eat burnt toast.”
Jane Jetson guided me back to the hovercraft and flew me back to Present Day.
Then, like Grandma Flynn, she too disappeared.
I glanced at the clock. It was still 10:15 am.
So I rolled over and went back to sleep until 10:45 am.
And then I pulled on a sweatshirt and ate breakfast with my kids.
At Marie Callender’s. Where there is no burnt toast, and no mess to clean up.