Remembering Norma

She took me too seriously.

Far too seriously.

The first time I met her, Lori and I were heading out for an evening of fun with our friends. I wasn't dating Lori at the time, but on Thursday nights, we would often find our way out to a bar, such as Equinox, at Ottawa University, or in the Byward Market.

Lori worked with one of my best friends in a department store, with her best friend, and Thursday night, for some long-forgotten reason, was our night to party.

I pulled up to her driveway in my '85 Sunbird. Andy was in the passenger seat. I hopped out and knocked on the door, which caused their Shelty to bark, a warning to all indoors. Lori was at the door, eager to head out. Her mother, Norma, followed her to the door, seemingly eager to see who her daughter kept company with. I said a brief hello, but we wanted to be on our way, so I didn't say anything else.

I remember Norma, watching us as we pulled away, her look gave the impression that she was trying to figure out which one of us was Lori's boyfriend, getting no indication.

Neither of us was Lori's boyfriend. We were merely friends, who happened to be boys.

Many months later, I was Lori's boyfriend, and for weeks, Norma, and Lori's dad, Stan, only saw me briefly, from within their van, as they arrived to pick Lori up after a shift at work, only to find I was waiting, too.

It wasn't until Lori's big brother, Doug, came to town, to visit, when we all sat down together, at a German restaurant. It was all pleasant talk, as we got to know each other and Lori's family got to see what kind of boy their daughter and sister were dating.

I was courteous, I was polite, but I have always let my sense of humour come through. I have always figured that you either like my sense of humour or you don't. I have never been one to hide what I think is one of my best characteristics.

Halfway through the meal, as we were all becoming comfortable with each other, Doug turned to me, and, in a casual tone, asked, "What exactly are your plans with my sister?"

Though we had been friends for nearly a year, Lori and I were newly dating. The future, to us, was far away. Plans? There were no long-term plans.

Doug had a good sense of humour. I saw that right away. Stan was friendly and liked to laugh. Both made me feel welcome at the dinner table. I could be myself, and I decided that with Doug's question, as I read it, was asked with tongue in cheek. My answer would have to match the intent.

"Well," I said, "I plan to sponge off Lori for the rest of my life."

Everyone laughed.

Everyone, except Norma.

"Oh, he's a terrible boy," Norma said, shocked by my response. Lori, you should stop seeing him at once."

I will always remember my first meeting with Norma with fond memories. I will remember her as the woman who always seemed to take me seriously, especially when I was at my least serious. And yet, she still welcomed me into her home and into her family.

I joked with her, to the very end. I hope she knew I was kidding.

Here's to the feistiest, quirkiest woman that I have had the honour of calling my mother-in-law.


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