Saturday, May 10, 2014

Remembering My Crazy Mother


Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, the second such observance since my Mom passed away. This year the day does not bring with it as much sadness and loss. Maybe it’s just the passing of time, but this year when I think of Mom I’m remembering funny stuff. The woman was hysterical.

It was very easy to get my Mom riled up about things. There were topics you learned to avoid around her, words better left unsaid if you knew what was good for you. But I was mischievous enough to intentionally provoke her every now and then just to watch her “get up in the pictures.”

Me: Oh great. I see from the church bulletin that we’ll have to endure another boring Lottie Moon speaker Sunday.

Me: Jeeze, that Billy Graham sure is a stiff!

Me: I don’t know about you, but I sure am getting tired of singing the same old hymns every Sunday.

Either of these three conversation starters would guarantee an unhinged 15 minute speech that would begin with Mom being so flustered that she would forget which of her children she was actually talking to. It sounded something like this:

Mom: Now you listen to me Donnie..eh, er, Linda, I mean…er, Paula,  phooey!!! Douglas!

My Mother was a woman of high passions and could argue with a fence post about virtually anything. She would sprinkle her speeches with veiled physical threats which to people who didn’t know her might lead them to believe that she was some sort of violent thug. I’m glad that no social worker ever overheard her say stuff like this:

Mom: Boy, stop that crying or I’ll take this rolling pin to you and give you something to cry about!

Mom: If those John Brown people over at Safeway keep raising the price of milk, I’m gonna go over there and wipe the floor up with them!

Mom: Donnie, if you put your hand in that bowl of strawberries one more time before dinner, you’re gonna draw back a nub!

Of course, she never made good on any of her threats. Or maybe she did. There is the curious case of my third grade teacher, Mrs. Carbunckle (not her real name…I’m taking no chances here). It was my first year in the New Orleans public school system, and Mrs. C wasn’t enamored with my inability to stay in my seat, neither was she fond of my penchant for paper airplane construction. Anyway, one day I got home from school with very red ears and started complaining to Mom about how horrible Mrs. Carbunckle was and how she was constantly boxing my ears for no reason! I immediately endured a 15 minute tirade from my Mother which sounded something like this:

Mom: Let me tell you something, Mrs. Carbunckle is a saint to have to not only put up with you all day but another 25 hellions just as bad as you! She is your teacher, and what she says goes, and if she had to box your ears today it’s because you deserved it!! You only have one job in that classroom and that is to sit still, shut up and do what you’re told.

Me: That’s more than one job Mom. That’s like three jobs.

Mom: Don’t back talk me!

To my Mother, teachers were some sort of cross between Joan of Ark and the Virgin Mary. They were always right, and I was always wrong. Still, I found it odd that within a week of the above conversation, Mrs. Carbunckle was transformed into the most docile, gentle, smiling, solicitous teacher in the history of education. I learned 35 years later that Mom had, unbeknownst to me, paid her a visit that included the admonition that if Mrs. Carbunckle ever laid a hand on me again that Mom would come over there and mop up the classroom floor with her. Apparently, Mrs. C believed her.

So, tomorrow I will miss my Mother, but no more grief, just some great memories.