The Newcott Scoop: Presents past and future

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Photo by Beth Houston

Some gifts you just can’t find on a registry. Like this glorious birthday gift of a painting of Jeff Goldblum. Beth knows what I like. Photo by Beth Houston

 

We had only been engaged for a month and my mother had already managed to register on our behalf at a Crate & Barrel store that was located over 2,000 miles away from us.

Taking a look at the list I wondered if she managed to scan every single item the store had to offer.

Not only was everything accounted for, the items got bigger as the list went on.

It started with those little baby forks for appetizers and proceeded from there to lamps, chairs, ottoman sofas, sofas that actually had backs to them, bed frames, and possibly the deed to the Crate & Barrel brick and mortar store itself.

This wasn’t purely a gesture of affection.

Whenever my mother became aware of a major life milestone approaching for one of her children she had a habit of giving them the most inconvenient gift possible.

The grandfather clock my brother and his wife received for their own wedding resulted in several months of heated discussion after they decided to return it.

To this day, it’s hardly spoken of.

“There are a lot of decorative pillows on here,” Beth said to me as she perused the list, “and not a single one I would like to have for decoration.”

I explained that my mother must have wandered into the store in a chemo-induced stupor, loudly announced she had cancer, tore a scanner away from an employee, and then went at it.

Although I knew she would be calling me at any moment, I decided to take the initiative and call my mother first for once.

“Hi Iah,” I said.

Her name is Cynthia, but Iah is what I’ve always called her since I was an infant. No one knows why, but it stuck.

“Would you mind if I took a few things off of the wedding registry?” I asked.

I heard her give a bereaved sigh on the other end of the phone.

“People need options, Zachary. If you just only register at one place for a few things they won’t know what to do,” she said to me.

“I know, but we really don’t need another chocolate fountain,” I explained, “Or so many different kinds of George Foreman grills.”

“If you think so, I suppose that’s fine,” she said, with another sigh.

“What did you set the password as?”

“CancerCindy,” she said. “One word.”

I slapped my forehead.

Cancer is certainly no fun, but in the hands of a mother it can be an atomic bomb. My mother in particular was willing to drop it at any moment just for effect.

“I finished setting up your Facebook,” I told her. “What do you want the password to be?”

“How about Cancer?”

Cancer, after all, is her sign. My mother and I share the same birthday, June 30.

This year she would have turned 61. I turned 28.

Over the years she gave me a number of big birthday gifts in order to keep me in one place.

One was a rattan couch. Another was a patio chair. And yes, during my college graduation dinner, she went so far to wheel in another grandfather clock to our table.

“Is it in your room?” she asked me over the phone.

“I’m looking at it right now,” I said, while staring at my gift card.

Did I feel guilty for returning it? Yes. But my mother ensured every decision of mine carried with it at least a hint of guilt.

The guilt still didn’t stop Beth from removing every item on the registry that wouldn’t fit into our future apartment.

By the time she was done, there were possibly three items left.

I think when Iah registered on our behalf she saw our home the way she wanted it, and the way she wanted it was with herself inside of it, keeping us in place with everything we needed.

Our grandfather clock would be ticking in our living room, and she wouldn’t have to worry about counting each second as her last, but knowing that every second counted.

“You’re my favorite,” she said to me before she left us.

I felt guilty about that too, until I realized she said it to all of us.

Entry reposted from The Visalia Times Delta. View the original article here.

Zachary Newcott
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Zachary Newcott

Zack is a father of one and resides with his family in Visalia, CA. His series "The Newcott Scoop" comes out every Tuesday.

Follow his movie reviews and blog posts at http://theawkwardunicorn.blogspot.com/
Zachary Newcott
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