Erma Bombeck was one of my mother’s favorite humor writers. Not only was she a good writer, but her books and columns also contained real life truths. I remember Mom laughing, and then she would read aloud the excerpt and say something like, “I know just how she feels!”
This Bombeck quote perfectly describes my mother: “A grandmother pretends she doesn’t know who you are on Halloween.” Mom was the perfect, appreciative audience for her costumed grandchildren…and all children.
When Mom opened the front door and greeted the young neighborhood kids chirping “Trick or Treat,” she pretended not to know any of them. “Oh my, who is this pirate on my porch?” she might say. Or, “What a scary ghost you are!” and “I didn’t know we had a real princess living nearby!” The children would giggle and hold out their sacks, and most of them said, “Thank you” for the goodies she gave to them. It was a happy time.
Then, as years went by, Mom and Dad started forgetting names and faces—and not just when children were in Halloween costumes—so they began leaving a bowl of candy on the patio table (and eventually they even forgot to do that). They would turn off the porch lights and the indoor lights, lock the doors and go to bed early. Halloween was no longer fun for them; it was too confusing.
There is a traditional Scottish saying about Halloween that is also a prayer: “From ghoulies and ghosties ~ And long-legged beasties ~ And things that go bump in the night ~ Good Lord, deliver us!”
Based on my own experiences with my parents—and as a prayer for all of us—I’ll add this: “From confusion and fear and forgotten memories ~ From the losses and sorrows of Alzheimer’s and dementia ~ And from scary things that go bump in the night ~ Good Lord, deliver us!”