Let me tell you a few things about Roberta Wilkins. Because, today we spread her ashes along with her husband (Hal), and their dog, Yemmy. This is a good time to share some of my favorite memories.
First of all, she was my mother-in-law. Unlike most son-in-laws, I adored her and I believe the feelings were mutual. From the day I first met her, she was mom or sometimes mom-2. She lived in our house from before we got married and until she died. In seventeen years, I never spent a night in the house without her being there. And still, I have no real idea of how old she was, because, ladies never tell their true age and gentlemen don't ask. I think she was in her mid to late seventies. I guess this because she told me she was older than my mom and younger than my dad.
Roberta was full of life. Her first car was a red Chevy convertible. She once spent an entire paycheck on a pair of Italian shoes. She was a man's women. I often describe her as a 1962, gin swilling, pencil dress wearing, jazz playing, cocktail party broad. Though truth be told, her preferred drink was a vodka martini with extra olives. She loved the description. She could cuss like a sailor if the occasion called for it.
She loved to laugh and had the biggest heart in the world.
Wherever Roberta, Hal, Jodi and I went, she drove. Once, on the way back from eating Mexican, we were all chewing Chicklets and convinced her to spit her's out the window. When she spit her gum, Roberta jerked the wheel, sending us into oncoming traffic. She hooted and laughed and got us back into our lane, getting us home in one piece.
Roberta often held a lit cigarette between the ring and middle fingers of her right hand while she talked to you. That lip stick stained cigarette was part of her. True Blue Kings. With cigarette in hand, you could often hear her exclaim "Jeesuuschrist!"
Everyday, when I walked in the front door, she gave me a hug and said "Hi baby, how was your day?"
I don't believe in God. But, I often think that, if there is a God, she would be up in heaven teaching the angels how to cuss, smoke, drink, and play strip poker. She would have Humphrey Bogart, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Tippi Hedren, and their spouses over for a cocktail party.
I'd knock and the door would open to a blast of jazz. Mom would greet me at the door with a vodka martini, extra olives, and say "Hi baby, how was your day?"