The Duchess And The Parachute Jump

PARACHUTE JUMP
TODAY.

The Dowager Duchess will have surgery on her back Wednesday morning at 9:00 (a collection of procedures to repair the compression fracture, clean up bone fragments and anything else, and strengthen her spine).

The goal, as the neurosurgeon explained today, is to return my mother to her fully active and independent life. The Duchess responded with a smile, “That’s my goal, too!” If all goes well, as we expect it will, The Duchess could begin physical therapy within a few days of surgery.

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What follows is a retelling of a story I posted in July 2011 (click here if you want to see the original, which includes a little more historical information). (Click any image for a ‘real scream.”)

The story I remember from my childhood — this is what I remember my mother telling me when I was 10 — was that she rode the Coney Island Parachute Jump with my father when they were first dating. She would have been 16 and he 17. More of the story that I remember my mother telling me was that she went on it to impress my father. Now, the Parachute Jump was not something I could imagine my mother riding. In fact, I had never seen my mother go on any ride at an amusement park. They all made her “too dizzy,” she insisted. So, when she told me the story and I asked her why she didn’t go on rides any more. Her response was, “Well, your father married me.”

IF THIS DIDN’T SCARE THE DUCHESS,
WHY WORRY ABOUT A LITTLE SURGERY?!?

In 2009, while my mother was visiting us in Las Vegas, one of my cousins, Joan, (a second cousin, to be precise) was also visiting and we were talking about Coney Island. Joan was from LA and she had only seen Coney Island once when she flew in for my mother’s 80th birthday. In jest, I began to tell Joan how my mother had tricked my father into marrying her by going on the Parachute Jump and making him think she was fun. But, my mother immediately corrected me (she does that quite a bit).

“No. No,” she said. “I didn’t go on with your father. He was in the Army. Harriet and I picked up a couple of sailors.”

What?!?
We all burst out laughing. “YOU picked up a couple of sailors?” I roared. (If you met my very proper mother, you would know how absurd the idea would be — even the fact that she could say something like that aloud.)
And then the back-pedaling began. “Well, Harriet did the picking up. She was much more forward than I. I would never do anything like that.”
I had tears in my eyes. “But you and Harriet picked up a couple of sailors?”

“It wasn’t like that. It wasn’t nice for two girls to go on a ride like that by themselves.”

“But it was nice to pick up a couple of sailors?” I was having such a good time. “What about your husbands?”

“Well, of course, we weren’t even engaged at the time. Murray was in the Navy and your father was in the Army.” My mother was actually blushing now and Jerry and my cousin Joan were wiping tears from their eyes.

“So, what did you do AFTER the ride?” I asked.

“They walked us to the subway station and we took the train home. It was completely innocent.

WHEN MY MOTHER IS BACK ON HER FEET, I’LL SEE IF SHE WANTS TO PICK UP
A COUPLE OF SAILORS AND TRY THE NEW THUNDERBOLT WITH ME.
COMPLETELY INNOCENT… OF COURSE.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

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