In Honor of Alex Trebek, RIP

The Only Time I Ever Saw My Mother Sit Down Was During Jeopardy! By Erin H. Sweeney Copyright Erin Sweeney Rocks! 2020

The only time I ever saw my mother sit down was during Jeopardy!

We would go grocery shopping until 3pm, and whether or not we had everything we needed, we had to be home in time for Jeopardy!

When I was little, I thought Ronald Reagan and Ronald McDonald were the same person. My mom corrected me over the Iran-Contra hearings one morning and I said, “But they look the same.”

She proved her superior knowledge later in a category called “Current Events”. “Ayatollah!” she shouted out before the three contestants chimed in.

She always had chips and a Coca-Cola, and I can remember her sitting on the kitchen counter closest to the TV in order to see the typewritten Jeopardy answers better. She could read faster than Alex Trebek could announce.

I was a mid-life baby, my mom was 36 when she had me, and aside from racing through the grocery store and those two-armed leaps onto the counter, I can’t remember my mom young.

She started dying her hair in her 40s when silvery threads bore proof of her wisdom. When people are surprised at my knowledge of trivia and general ailments, I say, “I watch Jeopardy and I had an older mom.”

But she seemed to be in perpetual motion. My four older sisters with their carousel of boyfriends would wait on dinner as she cooked for an army and my dad shooed them off, so he could drink and talk about his day at work.

As I got older I became interested in poetry, mainly as a means to attract attention. So whenever a poetry category came up, I would sweep it. My mom would swig her Coca-Cola and say, “You read too much.”

It was true. At a game of telephone in third grade, the rumor, always harmless in Catholic school was, “Erin plays with books.” I myself distorted this due to the fact I was reading a book at the time. Even in my schooldays, I got home earlier than my sisters so I was still my mom’s Jeopardy companion.

No more hops onto the counter now, and the chestnut brown hair that had born threads before now stemmed from a gray halo. She gave up Coca-Cola and chips, too. She said she was getting a Buddha belly. “Time to feed the Buddha,” she would say at dinner.

It makes me wonder – why did my mom never sit still, except to gain knowledge?

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