Ode on an American Mom

Okay, actually this isn’t an ode in the strictest sense. In a bit of a Keats moment, I borrowed and tweaked the title only. If I were doing this correctly I would come up with the proper number of lines and rhymes. However, there is no time for that.

No time because my mother is visiting. It’s her first time in Turkey, though not her first time traveling abroad. She would cross the polar ice on skates to reach us if she had to. Luckily, with modern transport being what it is, she hasn’t been forced to that extreme. Granted, she did have to weather -30C temps in Moscow a few times (in a wool coat, no less…there is a good reason everyone has a fur in Russia). Luckily, I can report that Istanbul’s weather at the moment is more hospitable.

In fact,  yesterday we lunched outside at Chilai’s in Bebek, sitting so close to the water that had it not been for the glass barrier, we could have dipped a toe in the Bosporus. The waiters were smiling, the food was delicious, and, of course, the company marvelous. It was a lovely, relaxing lunch.

Well, it was relaxing minus the driving, perhaps, at least for my mom.

I did warn her not to scream when I drove (she has a tendency to scream when she’s in fear of losing life or limb). It can be a bit unsettling when one is trying to focus on the road.

In my defense, I have never had a car accident.

That has been my fault.

(OK, minus one fender bender in Budapest, but the traffic was so congested my Ford Fiesta and I were literally forced to sideswipe a white Mercedes driven by a very nice Swedish man…I felt terrible, especially since the poor man had just picked up his Mercedes from the service shop where it had been repaired after it – as well as the man and his son – had been attacked by some thugs the previous weekend…but he forgave me – especially when he heard I was married to a Swede – gave me a hug and said ‘I think it’s time I go home to Sweden.’)

(And the other time I backed into my husband’s car that was erroneously parked right behind mine in the driveway. But that didn’t really count. Because you don’t need to report such incidents to the police. As it turns out. Unless you want to give them a bit of humorous relief from their jobs.)

Anyway, in Istanbul it is common practice to do a U-turn in the middle of a heavily trafficked street. Cars will stop.

And they did.

Given that this is not her first time in the car with me, she shouldn’t be surprised. I have driven her from Germany to Paris, when she came to visit me when I worked in Wiesbaden. (When we were flying at free speed on the autobahn, she did seem a bit concerned that my habit of driving over sharp curbs to park on sidewalks might compromise the integrity of the tires, but, nope, they were fine).

I have driven her in Switzerland when she met the boys and me on ski break (no worries there, the driving is as controlled and correct as a Rolex). I have driven her in Sweden when she visited us there (I do recall one minor yelp from her while we were in the car, but I am sure it was due to her recovering from major surgery, not my driving). She did get a bit of respite in Thailand when she met us there for Christmas break (if you can call Tuk Tuks a respite).

Probably her favorite was when we backpacked around Europe together, along with my sister. There we used primarily rail, and I think she felt much more at ease.

To make up for the scare, I am taking her to get a facial and massage today.

Unfortunately, I will have to drive us there.