Fifteen months ago, after some time had passed since my dad left us, I got a phone call from my sister. “How would you feel about taking mom on a Disney cruise? It leaves from New York, and it is only four days.”
Now, my sister is a big fan of Disney, and so is my mom. Another thing they have in common. I would be coming along for moral support. Who the support was going to would remain the pressing question.
“Sure, let’s go for it. It’s only 15 months away. Hopefully we will all still be alive.”
So under my favorite heading of “Man plans and God says, ‘Oh No You Don’t!!’” Fifteen months have passed. I am missing two weddings of close friends’ children and, of course, the war.
Before you start reading this, please know that I spent the majority of the time vacillating between how Minnie Mouse now wears pants because she is the captain of the ship and how can I be a good Jew and be enjoying the shows, while there are hundreds of children, women, elderly and men being held hostage. How can I be a good Jew when I am playing Disney trivia and the world is voting against Israel defending herself?
Well, this round is going to my mom, because she really needed this vacation. She hadn’t been anywhere in 13 years, and she spent the last few years trying her best to take care of my dad. It was not easy, and my sister really wanted to do this for her. I was coming along, as I have already said, for moral support. Let’s be honest, I was coming along to push the wheelchair. I was thinking of being like a Disney staff member, wearing a name tag with my name and country of origin on it.
As the pusher of the wheelchair I have rediscovered things about most people that I knew all along. They really don’t care. Old lady in a wheelchair waiting for an elevator — 80 percent of people just pushed in front of her to get in. But the other 20 percent were teaching their kids a really important lesson about respecting their elders.
And my mother is no ordinary elder.
When I was younger and my family would go places, I used to joke that my mother would meet someone from each of the 50 states. She was just that friendly. Fast forward 40 years and every single person who has the pleasure of being in the elevator with us has been asked the question that has haunted my brain and given me PTSD as a small child: “Where are you from?” My mom’s intentions are honorable, but she cannot hear as well as she used to. So her overweight, middle aged daughter (me, not my sister) has to intervene. “So,” my mom asks the man in the Steelers Sweatshirt with the Yankees hat and several tattoos, “Where are you from?”
They look at adorable little mom and respond, “Toronto.” “Oh, Florida,” she replies. “The weather is warmer there.” And then big Banji’s got to intervene. “No, Mom, they are from Toronto.” “Oh, Toronto, do you know the so and sos?” This is why I had PTSD as a child.
But this is also one of the reasons why we wanted to take her away. So she could be friendly to the masses. Something she used to do every time she went away with my dad. It would drive him crazy. And if my dad were on this cruise with us, he might have ended up in Mickey jail for yelling at all the kids who acted, well, like kids. Dad was a big fan only of my kids, my sister’s kids, and my brother’s kids. Everyone else’s were not his cup of tea.
And since it is hard to balance writing about enjoyable things while knowing about all of the not-enjoyable things that are going on in the world, I will end with this story. Since I am the youngest, I had to sleep in the top bunk bed. That is correct. I am almost 53 years old and I have to climb up a ladder to go to sleep. The weight limit of this bed is 220 pounds. There is a lot of free ice cream on the cruise. Do they want me to crush my sister? And once I am up here, getting down is quite a challenge. So I have to stop drinking liquids about seven hours before night-night, because there is no way I am making it down the ladder and to the bathroom in a timely fashion.
So there you go. Hope everyone is doing as best as can be expected. And I hope some of these words made you smile. Because as I have said, if you aren’t smiling, you are probably crying, and that isn’t helping anyone except the tissue companies….
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck will write more about her adventure next week. Unless her sister asks her to sign an NDA.