Car washes and ice cream cones

By Fara Warner, JAWS Board Member

I drove through a car wash last week. It was exciting because it was something I hadn’t done the week before. I did it because my mom’s red Prius was dirty and I know how much she likes to keep a clean car. This is a big thing because there are few things I’m terrified of and going through car washes is one of them. I worry that I’ll wreck a tire or worse that the entire chassis will be forever damaged because I can’t get the wheels straight and in between the two metal strips that move the car along the car wash.

That day I almost forgot to put it in neutral, but then the car wash guy yelled at me through my closed window because it’s that kind of world we live in. I can’t roll down the window. He has a mask on.

But this isn’t about a car wash.

This is about the amazing time I’ve spent with my mom during the global pandemic we are all living through.

On March 2, I flew from a conference I was attending in Phoenix to Salt Lake City where my mom lives alone. I hadn’t heard from her in about 36 hours and that’s unlike her. She texts like a millennial. She’s fond of gifs. She shops with Amazon like a Zen master. Not hearing from her was wrong.

I arrived to find her alone in her apartment. She had suffered a stroke. Then we found out after we got to the hospital that she’d suffered two strokes. For about two weeks I didn’t really think about Covid-19 other than to answer “no” to the same questions at the hospital reception desk they asked me: been to a foreign country, have a cough. NO. Now can I get to my mother who had two strokes thanks very much!

Eight weeks into this, we’ve been in isolation for all of it. She’s home and recovering well although every day I wonder if we’ll get back to the place we were on Dec. 31, 2019. At a jazz club on the Upper West Side dancing in the aisles. I have hope that this will happen again on Dec. 31, 2020 when she will have just turned 80. I have faith that my mom will dance again and that Smoke on the UWS will be open.

But that is hope and faith and the reality is that what I have right now are car washes and ice cream cones.

A few days ago, Mom said she’d love an ice cream cone like the ones we treat ourselves to in Kingston, N.Y. But I have no idea if there’s a soft-serve place even open in Salt Lake now. So I go to my local natural grocers, grab gluten-free cones and a pint of upscale butter pecan.

Now most nights we end our evening dinners with an ice cream cone. And nothing has ever tasted better.

I’ve made plans to go home several times during these two months. First April 19. That date came and went. It was much too early for my mom and too early for me to be on a plane. Then May 3. At the time my mom asked if I could stay for Mother’s Day. I balked. I’d been gone a long time. I needed to get home. She agreed. It had been a lot for me to shoulder. Last Friday, I woke up thinking: really, you can stay for Mother’s Day. I changed my flights. Extended the Airbnb I’m in. Then I wrote a card letting my mom know I was going to be here through May 11. I think there are few things that have made my mother happier. In fact, I’m not sure anything has made her happier, more joyous than the gift of a week.

So when the ask to write letters for Mother’s Day and to donate to JAWS came, it was another thing I could say yes to. So this year, as a JAWS board member and a lifelong member (dues paid forever, yes that’s an option), I’m making a $500 donation in honor of my mother.  I hope you’ll join me in supporting JAWS and honoring a mother in your life. I would not be the journalist I am today and I would not be the woman I am today without her care, her support and her unending belief that I can be anything I put my mind to. One day soon I’m certain we will be traveling again as we are in the photo with this post, taken in the wine country of Chile.