It wasn’t the typical Mother’s Day in Metamucilville. No flowers, candy or cards but I sure didn’t mind. Instead of celebrating the Hallmark holiday with the hubby and son in a crowded restaurant in California, I was playing tag with the waves on an empty beach in Florida.
How did I manage this? Every couple of years I desert my family and go on a sabbatical. Yeah, you read that right, I’m on vacation from being a wife and mother. Before you start thinking I’m married to an angel, let me explain how this started-- I met and married the hubby without introducing him to my mother. Now don’t get me wrong, I warned him about her but it wasn’t until he actually came face to face with her that he fully understood why I left the south. The next time I suggested we go see her, he told me to go without him. Even now that she’s deceased, he’s still reluctant to visit the south with me.
My mother wasn’t a bad person, just a little crazy. Eccentric is what we like to call it in the south. Her local newspaper has a section in it called “Rant and Raves.” On a good day my mother’s rants could have filled a quarter of a page, on a bad day, an entire page. Children skipped over her house on Halloween.
As she aged, her brain sailed south leaving her body standing on the dock. There were times when I was sad and cried but fortunately I have a sense of humor and I can now look back and have a good laugh.
In celebration of Mother’s day, I’ll share one of my stories about her. I call this one:
Most people will tell you that patience is a virtue. My mother viewed it as an obstacle that might keep her from getting her way. It was something she didn’t have nor wanted. Standing in line at the grocery store irritated her, and she got nervous if her dentist appointment was running a few minutes late. She even had a hard time waiting for tomatoes to ripen in the summer.
She tried a number of remedies to calm herself: Valium, a shot of Jack Daniels in her Coca Cola before bedtime, and cigarettes. None of it worked very well.
After my father died, she chose to live alone, which caused my brother, David, and me to constantly worried about her. We talked with the druggist to make sure she didn’t over medicate herself and we refused to bring her any liquor, but we didn’t ask her to quit smoking. That would have been too much for her to handle.
The thing that bothered us the most was her smoking in bed. We would find holes burned in the bedding, the rug on the floor and even her pajamas. David got upset when he found a six inch wide hole burned into a quilt that our great-grandmother had made. My mother admitted she had to douse it with the glass of water she kept at her bedside to take her Valium.
That was the last straw. David went to the local hardware store, purchased a smoke alarm and installed it in her bedroom a few feet from the bed. She didn’t like it. She was concerned that it might go off and scare her. David explained that was its purpose.
Mother reluctantly accepted his explanation and things were fine until the night the battery ran low and the alarm started beeping. It woke her up. She pulled a chair up under the alarm and tried to remove the battery but couldn’t get the compartment door open. The beeping was getting on her nerves. She tried to pull the alarm out of the ceiling with her hands. It wouldn’t budge. The beeping was really getting on her nerves. Finally, she grabbed a broom and shoved its handle into the sheet rock above the smoke alarm prying it loose, and making a large hole in the ceiling. It crashed onto the floor. It was still beeping.
She tried to remove the battery again but was unsuccessful. The alarm just kept on beeping. She took it to a room on the other side of the house, put it on a table, shut the door, went back to her bedroom, sat down on the side of her bed and lit up a cigarette. She could still hear it beeping so she went back to the room and piled blankets and a pillow on top of the alarm. The muffled beeping could still be heard throughout the house. She gave up and sat on the side of her bed the rest of the night smoking.
In the morning mother decided to take the alarm over to Mr. Anderson, her neighbor, to get him to remove the battery. She grabbed the beeping alarm, stuck it under her arm and rushed out. To open the front gate, she had to shift the cigarette in her hand and in doing so, stuck it next to the alarm.
It no longer beeped. Instead the alarm emitted a loud blast of squealing noise that shattered the quiet of the morning and my mother’s nerves. She dropped her cigarette, grabbed the alarm and flung it all the way across the street where it landed in the Anderson’s yard.
Mr. Anderson and his wife came running out of their house. He saw the alarm, which was still blaring, on his lawn, went over, picked it up and removed the battery. Mrs. Anderson spotted my mother. The only sound then was Mrs. Anderson’s uncontrollable laughter.
My brother patched the hole in the ceiling and reinstalled the alarm after he promised my mother that he would replace the battery every three months. But when he came to visit her a few weeks later, the alarm was gone. She couldn’t sleep with it hanging over her head and had Mr. Anderson remove it. Not be be deterred, David went to the store and, this time, returned with a fire extinguisher.