MAYOTonight, the filmmaking world gathers in Hollywood for the Academy Awards, one of my favorite events of the year.

I have been watching the Oscars as long as I can remember. I think the first time I was allowed to stay up to watch the ceremony was when I was eight or nine years old – and only after begging my parents for months and promising to take a nap beforehand. I haven’t missed a year since.

In those early years I would watch with my parents, feeling special that I was the only kid (of the four of us) who was still up and watching television. Inevitably, my father would watch for a bit and then go to bed, leaving my mother and me to ride it out. Most years my mom would fall asleep as the show dragged on and I would wake her for her favorite categories. I cherished those special moments.

Over the years, my mom would indulge me as I gave my various Oscar acceptance speeches and quizzed her about Oscar trivia that I studied all year long.

At some point, I began predicting the winners in advance. I would write my predictions on little pieces of paper and my mother would put them in a pickle jar with great fanfare – ala the “hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnall’s porch” Johnny Carson’s Carnac character did with his predictions.

The next morning we would open the jar to see how well I did and my mother would always say “you did well Little Heart” (her pet name for me) even when I failed miserably. To this day when I smell pickles I am brought back to those years. Those Oscar nights with my mom were special times and among my most cherished childhood memories.

As I got older and moved away, first at college and then out on my own, I would make sure I sent my predictions to my mother in advance – at first by post and later by email. The next day we would get on the phone and she would review how well I did. A few times in recent years we would send email back and forth during the show with mom providing live commentary on my picks and other Oscar observations. Mom would always point out that she started watching with my dad and then he went off to bed leaving her to watch alone with my predictions in hand as her guide.

Well, this will be the first Oscar night since my mom passed away and I am profoundly sad. However, I have already prepared my Oscar predictions, placed them in a jar and will be opening them in the morning to see how well I did, and listening carefully to hear…

“…you did well Little Heart.”