My mother’s last meal was a cheeseburger. She was 85 years old, and she drove to a restaurant to have lunch with her friends, where she told them, “I know I should have a salad, but I’m going to have a cheeseburger instead.” After lunch, she walked back to her car, got in, and then died. She never even got the key into the ignition (I should tell you that my mother had always been a terrible driver, and upon learning of her death, my brother Henry said, “I always assumed she’d die in her car. I just thought it would be moving”).
That was on June 1, thirteen years ago. My mother was a wonderful, intelligent, warm, funny woman. She was a fantastic mother, and I think of her and miss her every day. I do not eat cheeseburgers every day because I would like to live to be at least 85, and I don’t want to press my luck. But once a year, on June 1, I have a cheeseburger (with fries even, if I so choose) and think about how much I love my mother still and how much I love this annual cheeseburger and how grateful I have that she didn’t have that salad she was supposed to have. Or, God forbid, tofu. Thanks, Mom — for everything.