November 10, 2008

What Size Underwear Do You Wear?

Posted by Judi Lynn Lake at 22:58
“Her grave’s not even cold and he’s already dating!"

“That’s terrible!"

“Terrible? It is incorrigible! She was such a good woman — he should show more respect! At least one year mourning…Judi, what do you think?"

Distracted, I listlessly reply, “Huh?"

“Judi! John! He already has a girlfriend!"

“Oh, that, mmm…" Pausing, I thoughtfully study each curious face in front of me and playfully ask, “Tell me girls, what size underwear do you wear?"


“You want to know about John and I want to know about your underwear. That’s fair, isn’t it?"

“That’s insane! You’re insane!"

“My point exactly. In the midst of your “gossip fest" I suppose none of you have thought that perhaps he’s already mourned his loss years ago as he faithfully nursed his dying wife…."


I didn’t expect any response, not really. I suspect it’s easier to judge others than it is to understand them. Judging leads to “good conversation" whereas understanding someone does not.

After all…

…what better conversation is there for a girl’s luncheon than to psychoanalyze a brand new widower and his girlfriend?

Sensing the discomfort my comments have caused, I politely excuse myself and exit towards the door.

Ironically, as I search my purse for the car keys, I happen upon my own reminder of loss. Almost robotically, I grab hold of the empty “White Shoulders" perfume bottle buried deep within my pocketbook and slowly inhale its familiar scent. Lost in the moment, I am frozen in time as I breathe in “my mommy scent."


“Did you see all of the presents I got?"

“Yes and you deserve all of them!"

“You think?"

“I know — you are my mamma and I love you with all of my heart!"

I hug her tightly and gleefully persuade her to open the rest of her presents. My mother, a true giver, rapidly unwraps the remaining presents with the enthusiasm of a little girl. Finally, she spies a small, beautifully wrapped package and is befuddled.

“What —“

“Mom, just open it, will you!"

“Okay, okay."

Giggling, her sparkling eyes begin to tear as the paper is slowly torn off the gift. Without a word, we warmly embrace each other and I am enclosed within the safest arms I have ever known.

Sobbing, she lovingly scolds me for spending too much money. Lovingly, I protest as I assure her she’s worth so much more.

From that day forward, my mom was never without her favorite perfume ever again.


I force myself back into reality and slide onto the drivers seat. Adjusting the rear view mirror, I check my reflection and notice the mascara running down my face. Ten years later and I still miss her. She was my “mommy"; my confidante; my best friend and my heartbeat.

Through my own experience of motherhood, I have learned the selfishness of a child and realize how spoiled I was. I demanded and expected yet depended on my mother for everything. I knew of no stronger bond until I gave birth to my own daughter.


“Mamma, you sound so weak, are you alright?"

“I’m just a little tired, Judi, I’ll be alright."

“Wait for me, I’m coming over — don’t go anywhere, okay?"

“Judi, I’m fine, really. The ride from your house to mine is too long; stay with your husband and enjoy the beautiful day."

Two hours later, I am in my mother’s house. Although we speak daily, I am no longer able to see her as often and am shocked at the skeletal image resting in my mother’s chair. The last time I saw my mom was one month ago when I took her to Broadway. We had a grand time and she looked beautiful. Four short weeks later, I don’t recognize her; her eyes have sunk in and she is very weak.

I quietly go into the kitchen to make her a cup of tea and call for an ambulance. Minutes later, I return and find my mother sound asleep. Something is terribly wrong and I am filled with enormous fear.

Trembling, I immediately reach for the phone and call my husband.

“Gary, it’s me. Something’s wrong with mom and I’m taking her to the hospital. I’m going to stay here until I find out what’s going on. Gary, I’m scared …"

Discerningly, Gary replies, “Judi, let me finish my last job and I’ll meet you at the hospital."

Neither my husband nor me leave my mother’s side while she is in the hospital. One week later, on March 7, 1998, at 12:15 pm, my mother leaves us to return home. On that day, a part of me dies as well… that is the day I lost my “mommy."

With the help of my loving husband, and in a “zombie-like" state, I painfully make all of her funeral arrangements. Although a difficult task, it seems appropriate that I be the one deemed to handle her burial.

After the funeral, everyone gathers at my mother’s home for food and emotional support. Amidst the crowd, I search for my girlfriend, Mary Ellen, and strongly grab her arm.

“You okay?"

“Yeah, but I gotta get outa here; I feel as though I’m suffocating. I need you to come with me."

Quietly, we slip out without being noticed and drive to the beach in silence.


Six months later, while in the mall with my mother’s best friend, Rita, an acquaintance stops us to chat.

“I’m so sorry about your mother, Judi, she was a fine woman. A good, Christian woman for sure!"

Somberly, I reply, “Thank you, Olga."

Arrogantly, she coyly adds, “For an only daughter, it was a bit unusual that you left your own mother’s funeral gathering… after all she’s done for you, Judi Lynn!"


Abruptly, Rita intercedes and asks, “Hey Olga, tell me, what size underwear do you wear?"

Astounded, Olga replies, “What? Have you lost your mind?"

Curtly, while hugging me tightly, Rita responds, “No, Olga, I think you’ve lost yours!"

That evening, I privately reach for my mother’s bottle of “White Shoulders" and, while inhaling its scent, allow the pain from the depths of my soul to be released.

I close my eyes, envisioning my mamma’s loving face, and think, “No one can ever know how much I love and miss my mamma… no one but her."

©2008 Judi Lynn Lake. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.


Judi Lynn Lake has kept up with leading edge business trends throughout her varied and successful career. She had already had her "15 minutes of fame" over and over again before starting her family. Judi and her family now reside in South Carolina, but, having been born and raised on Long Island, NY, it is clearly evident that she will always be a "New Yorker." Today, she successfully runs her own advertising agency which handles everything from logos, branding and package design while she continues to work closely with self-published authors from design to promotion. For more information, visit

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Life As It Happens Copyright 2009 Judi Lynn Lake. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Image by Tadpole's Notez