Saturday, October 3, 2009


This is a story about my mom. Although parts of this story may seem sad it is actually isn't. I learned a lot from my mom. She died when I was 25, before my kids were born. She had always had a pretty rough life and seemed beaten down a good portion of the time. We will go back to the year 1969, Christmas time. I was 13.

One of my sisters and my brother chipped in their money to send my mom and me from British Columbia back to Ontario to visit our eldest sister who lived there with her husband and kids. They didn't have enough money for a plane so we were traveling by train. They also didn't have enough money for a berth so we were going to sleep in our seats. For 3 nights. 
The food at the diner counter was pretty rough looking. The only thing they had that seemed decent was some pea soup. Breakfast, pea soup. Lunch, pea soup. Dinner, pea soup. My mother finally had enough of this but had such a tight budget I didn't know what she could do. 
She brought me through the train cars, past the luncheon counter further and further until we got to the dining car. Train travel back in those days, when you had the money was very elegant. The tables were set in a fashion that would give Bill or Susan a run for their money on Tablescape Thursday for sure. 
She hustled me over to one of the beautifully set tables. The table was set with icy cold water filled crystal glasses, crystal dishes filled with olives and celery and other tidbits to nibble on. White linen napkins starched into perfect folds.  A silver basket lined with a white napkin held some yeasty warm breads and the butter pats were close by molded into shells on their silver plates.

"Quickly" she said. "have some bread and butter" She tore some bread and managed to get the crumbs on the tablecloth. On purpose. 
"Have some olives and celery" she said while drinking from the crystal glass. 
Slowly down the aisle way came the conductor. He was chatting with the patrons. I ate some olives. Closer he comes, I drink some water. Finally he reaches our table. He asks my mother to see her ticket expecting (or not) to see a first class ticket which would entitle us to be in the elegant dining car. 
She hands him our tickets and he says, of course, that we are not supposed to be in the dining car.

Really? she asks. Oh my I didn't realize that. The conductor eyes the table in front of us. They would have to completely redo the table if we left. He decided that we could stay and we ordered our dinner. I think the only thing I recognized on the menu was a steak so that is what I had. I don't remember what my mother had but she enjoyed every bite of it.

Well this story almost has a happy ending. Remember this was the first solid food I had eaten in a couple of days. The train was shaking back and forth. I could feel it slowly coming back up and I excused myself quickly from the table. I raced out of the dining car and into the first bathroom I could find. I threw up my entire dinner as the train jolted me from side to side. It was a colossal mess and I took off back to our car as fast as I could. I was so embarrassed. 
The next morning I went to get some pea soup from the luncheonette and they were all out.

(I have also posted this on my other site:Family Trees May Contain Nuts)


Anonymous said...


Sounds like your Mom knew how to make the best of an uncomfortable situation. Memories like this are the best memories. When you grow up without a lot of money and constant advantages, there is nothing else but love. (If you grow up in a loving home) Trust me.... I know. All we had in my household was a lot of love and not much else. :)

I didn't think your story was sad at all. It was warm and full of love... despite the fact that you threw up your steak! (LOL)

Donna Marie

Sandy said...

So...we have something else in common....this was a real nice story....your Mom took good care of you on that trip....:)

josette said...

Lori - I, too, lost my mom early and she was good at improvising just like yours. What a sweet remembrance story.

dustbunny8 said...

Great story Lori,your mom took care of you like a mother is supposed to.Wonderful to read.I have a similar story but mine was in a Greyhound bus station.Hard times made us the people we are.Thanks for sharing.

Sandi McBride said...

I write about my family all the time. I do it for my Granddaughter who can't remember her Great Grandmother (my mother) since she was only 18months old when Mama died. There are so many of my family that I would love her to know, and so I blog them. This is a wonderful story Lori, your Mom would be so proud to know that you are keeping her memory alive for future generations. I'm adding you to my blog role, hope you don't mind.