My soon to be more famous mom

So my mom is about to be on national television. My sister, in what appears to be some sort of attempt to usurp my position of favorite child in spite of her having moved the furthest of any of us from Minnesota when she got married last year, sent the following email to CBS’s Early Show:

From: sheryl
Sent: Friday, January 27, 2006 1:22 PM
Subject: week of wishes

I want to nominate my mom, Patty Stewart of Stacy, Minnesota, for the week of wishes. As a wife and the mother of five kids, three of whom are now out of the house and married, she has always been the perfect example of self sacrifice. She trully invested her whole self in us. She seldom if ever bought new clothes or anything else for herself; instead she provided everything we needed and even wanted and invested in a private education for all of us. Her schedule was nearly wholly consumed with driving us around to sports activities, school, friends’ houses, and anywhere else we wanted to go. She made a home-cooked meal every night, and the lunches she packed for us always contained home-baked goodies. She has always had a tight budget, but somehow she stretched it to provide everything we needed. Now that I am married and running my own house, I am continually amazed at how she could play taxi for all of us, keep the house sparkly clean, the laundry always done, lovingly care for neighbors and friends, and still be the joyful person that she is. My mom never complained about the demands we made of her, though we were often selfish and I’m sure a drain on her emotions and strength. She prays for us every day and has done so since before we were born. I know that she has big dreams which she has laid aside in order to raise us in such a loving and giving way. One wish of hers is to take a hot air balloon ride someday. It is something she often talks about but never expects to be able to turn into a reality. Could you make this wish of my mom’s come true? She deserves it more than anyone else I know.

Sheryl Vine
Bozeman, MT

I believe Sheryl finding out about this deal was made possible only because of the aforementioned move to a time zone slightly behind normal people time, which, through an apparent tear in the space-time continuum, allowed her to get up early enough to watch this Early Show and get the jump on the rest of the siblings who have to work to earn our favorite child status the hard way.

Anyway, despite a lack of capitalization of the term “Week of Wishes,” which is surely a proper noun, CBS sees fit to grant the wish. Sheryl shows up on my parents’ Minnesota doorstep with a CBS camera crew. The door of which this doorstep is a component leads, to the soon-to-be-televised horror of my mother, to their kitchen, which has always been the most active room in the house for the same reason that I (actually all five somehow well-fed kids, except Jim who I think eats fruit for dessert or something now) feel entitled to a dessert with lunch, dinner and sometimes breakfast — my mom bakes constantly. It’s how they put us through the private school Sheryl mentioned: Mom made cakes and cakes and more cakes. Also, said kitchen hasn’t been remodeled in a while — had I made the wish, I probably would have included the condition of a kitchen remodeling prior to the start of taping. But that’s why I make a better favorite child.

So they give my mom a day or something to get ready, then she and Sheryl fly to San Diego for a few days at a spa. Each step of the way, my mom apparently has no idea what’s next until it happens. The have a Lincoln and, I think, a driver to ferry them around on trips to visit the surrounding wine country and such.

The last morning, they wake up early and go for the much-awaited balloon ride. Supposedly “that guy from the Amazing Race” is their host for this balloon ride. I’ve never heard of him, but then again the only reality show whose existence I acknowledge is the Real World.

Anyway, they have a grand old, hopefully relaxing time hanging out in sunny So-Cal for a few days. Sheryl downs all of the wine samples, and my mom gives the majority of her tickets to some guy with quite a tolerance — in case you were wondering how that went down. Oh, and they also give Sheryl a camera to haul around, since the film crew is only there for certain parts of it. Of course she thinks she’s all cool with this camera marked with a big “CBS News” logo.

They flew back to their respective homes on the evening of the balloon ride. Mom gets bumped, of course, so now she has another free flight coming up at some point — probably will be used to visit her new favorite child. “Getting bumped” has had mythic status in the Stewart/Weiss families, at least amongst us kids, ever since Grandma Deb and Grandpa Dean used their getting-bumped skills to land themselves a free annual trip to Aunt Lezlie’s early-spring, collegiate softball tournament in Phoenix for a bunch of years in a row. Seriously, the way I remember it they each bought one ticket the first year. After that, they just used their free vouchers every year. That might not be true, though — I was young. My one chance to get bumped was ruined when I couldn’t get ahold of my ride at the other end of my flight (my mom) because nobody but me, Lezlie and a couple friends had personal cell phones back then. I had to take the flight, otherwise she would have been waiting at the airport for a damn long time. See, this is why I should remain the favorite child despite Sheryl coming through in a major way here.

The spot is going to air on Tuesday morning, March 21 — primary day here — sometime during the Early Show. CBS is flying both of them out to New York on Monday to be on the show live. I have the TiVo ready to go (some of us have to work before 9 in the morning), and I’ll post the clips on the page here that night.