By Lisa Scottoline
I just got off the phone with Mother Mary, who’s lost her mind. Or maybe it’s Scottoline birthday madness.
Let me explain.
She told me a story that happened to her that day, when she was going outside to do the laundry.
Yes, you read that right.
She lives in Miami with brother Frank and she goes outside to do the laundry because they keep their washer and dryer in the backyard.
This makes no sense to me, but she swears that it’s common in Florida to keep major appliances in the backyard, like shrubs with twenty-year warranties.
Still, it’s hard for me to believe. I suspect that my mother and brother are redneck Italians.
But never mind, that’s not the point of the story.
So Mother Mary is going outside to put in a load of laundry and she sees one of her neighbors, a nice young woman, walking her two-year-old son by the hand. My mother stops to say hello, and the little boy looks up at her with big blue eyes and says:
“I love you, Mary.”
So of course my mother melts, because she loves kids, and she even gets choked up telling me on the phone. The whole story is sounding really sweet until she gets to the next part, which is when she asks the mother of the toddler when is his birthday, and the woman answers:
Okay, means nothing to you, but that’s brother Frank’s birthday.
And on the phone, my mother tells me: “I looked at that little boy, and I thought he was like Frank. Like he has your brother’s soul.”
I thought I heard her wrong. “Pardon?”
“When he said he loved me, I looked into his eyes and I could see his soul, and it was Frank’s soul.”
“You mean they’re alike?”
“No, I mean they’re the same.”
I tried to deal. “You’re kidding, right?”
“No. I’m telling you, he has the same exact blue eyes as Frank and he was born on the same day. He has Frank’s soul.”
“Ma, Frank still has his soul. He’s not dead yet.”
“I know that,” she said, irritably. “They share the same soul.”
“Ma, that’s crazy.”
“Sorry, but I know, I can tell. Remember the earthquake?”
This shuts me up, temporarily. It’s matter of public record that Mother Mary was the only person in Miami to feel an earthquake that took place in Tampa, and the South Florida newspapers even dubbed her Earthquake Mary. Ever since then, she thinks she’s Al Roker, but supernatural.
She said, “It’s the same soul. Absolutely.”
“Ma, just because they have the same birthday doesn’t mean they have the same soul.”
“Hmph. What do you know, about birthdays?”
She was referring to something I’ll never live down, which happened to me over twenty years ago, when daughter Francesca was three years old. I had taken her in a stroller into an optician’s shop in town, and a man walked through the door, pointed directly at Francesca, and said: “Her birthday is February 6.”
I was astounded. “How do you know?”
“I just do.”
I went home that day and called my mother. “Ma, some guy just guessed that Francesca’s birthday is February 6! Isn’t that amazing?”
“Because her birthday is February 7.”
I blinked. “It is?”
Look, I have no idea how it happened, but for the first three years of Francesca’s life, I celebrated her birthday on the wrong day.
Maybe it’s because I was in labor for 349,484 hours, so the exact day she was born seemed like a technicality. And since then, it was just she and I celebrating a day earlier, with nobody around to know better.
So now I can never say anything about birthdays, ever.
But at least I know where everybody’s soul should be.
And their washer-dryers, too.
Copyright Lisa Scottoline