Since we had two slobbering beasts stuffed into the car with us, we stopped often to let them out so they could walk around, relieve themselves and enjoy some time doing anything other than being stuffed into a car. Come to think of it, those were the same reasons that we usually wanted to stop. After what seemed like 384 hours on the road (it was seven) we arrived safely, setting a personal record for the most stops caused by the need to clean drool off of the back window (four).
Once we got there, the dogs made themselves at home in my mother’s house which was small at about 900 square feet. Four people and two giant dogs was a lot to stuff into that little house, but we managed. Luckily, Daisy did her part by electing to sit on the couch whenever possible, thus freeing up space on the floor for we peasants.
When we arrived in New Hampshire, I had naturally expected the same rules to be in force. On the first night there I witnessed my mother — the enforcer — feeding Cozy and Daisy mashed potatoes off of a wooden spoon in the kitchen. My mother was scooping mashed potatoes from the pot on the stove, and was feeding the eager, wagging dogs as if they were hungry children from a Dickens novel. Cozy and Daisy were sitting with rapt attention, taking turns licking the spoon while drool pooled on the floor beneath them. I was dumbfounded.
I expected Rod Serling to step out from the bathroom explaining how I was traveling through another dimension. Who was this woman that looked so much like my mother? When I was a kid, I wasn’t even allowed to lick cake bater from the bowl because my mother was afraid that I’d get salmonella from the raw eggs. Now she was double-dipping a wooden spoon into our mashed potatoes after sticking it into not one but two slobbering dog’s mouths. My logical mind suffered from a stack overflow condition trying to evaluate the sheer number of longstanding rules being broken by the very founder of those rules. Either my mother had gone insane or I had.
Somehow the fundamental nature of the universe had changed and I had not received the memo. Apparently, Cozy and Daisy were as close to grandchildren as my mother had yet seen from us, and as such they were granted all the rank and privilege one would expect from a doting grandmother. Either that or she was an android copy of my mother sent from an orbiting alien spacecraft, the likelihood of which seemed equally probable to me given the mental disability I had incurred trying to reason though the scene at hand.
Back in the house my mother further enjoyed being a grandmother to the dogs. When Daisy jumped up on the couch to sit where she felt that she belonged, I naturally told her to get down. My mother replied “That’s alright; she’s not doing any harm.” I’m rarely speechless, but I found nothing clever to say to my robotic alien mother, probably due to my fear that if I ruined the illusion she would pull out a ray gun and vaporize us all. I wasn’t even allowed on the couch as a kid!
After dinner we all chatted in the living room while my scheming alien android mother offered up pumpkin pie. The scene was a page right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. You know, if paintings had pages, which I was pretty sure they did, but to be fair my head hurt from all the rampant conjecture. Cozy enjoyed her slice on the floor while Daisy had hers hand-fed to her on the couch.
After pie, I busied myself offloading the digital photos from my camera while we all settled into the post-dessert routine common in small New England towns. It was a clear November night, the stillness punctuated by the distinctive sound of a lone Whip-poor-will perched in a nearby tree. It was beautiful, it was serene, and it was everything you’d expect from a Thanksgiving trip to Grandma’s house.
I was starting to worry about Mr. Serling. He was overdue.