The Sizzler

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: North Bay, Ontariomap
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A memoir of my mother written by Nicole March 2020


The sizzler is a demonstration of affection invented by my mother. It was an action that the adults all ran from and rolled their eyes when one was performed.

  • A sizzler is achieved thusly: hold the head tenderly between loving hands and guide said head with the cheek to her lips. Her lips, puckered at a practiced tension, made contact with the cheek. With just the right control of inhaling, the lips upon the cheek would perform a vibration that was absolutely irritating to her audience. The recipient would then be released from her embrace with the very short effect of ringing in the ears. Mom would laugh with absolute glee and would be proud of the outcome.

The children, when visiting my mother, went quickly to see their grandmother who greeted them with “The sizzler”. The grandchildren seemed to love it; it was a game. They very rarely complained (until they got older). It made my mother happy to have such willing targets and the grandchildren delighted in making their grandmother happy. Obviously they are better people than their parents.

Nick and Mom - 1988

When mom became ill and could no longer communicate, I would spend many hours lying in bed beside her, talking to her, singing to her, and treating her with the same love and affection she did this daughter when a baby. But, one day, it occurred to me, mom had never been the recipient of her own invention, the sizzler. Lying beside her, I whispered “Mom, remember all those sizzlers you gave others and your daughters hated them but you just loved doing it anyway? Guess what? It’s your turn!”

With careful attention I placed my lips upon her soft cheek. Tenderly and softly I drew in breath to perform that special sound. I could not help but smile and giggle, and continued playing sizzler sounds for as long as my lips could endure the sizzling effect of the vibration. The outcome? You cannot believe the absolute feeling of pleasure of being able to play upon my mother’s cheek the very action I absolutely hated receiving. And you cannot believe the absolute feeling of laughter that filled my heart to give back to my mother that which she gave with so much love and affection.


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