Monday, May 11, 2009

Queen for a day

While I was laboring through edits and reviews and all things literary this weekend, my mother was being feted and celebrated by my siblings. Several weeks ago, taking a page from me, Carol requested that we all club together for Mothers Day and give Mom a day at the beauty shop, something Mom has not been able to afford for a while. I agreed and my share of the money and waited impatiently to find out how Mom liked being pampered for a change, especially since she's been complaining that her hair is getting too long. (Mom has a sort of mullet and the fish's tail is drooping down her back.) Mom received her gift yesterday and she was ecstatic, but her hair is still unwashed (by salon hands), uncut and uncurled.

Mom thought her gift from Jimmy was being taken out to dinner, probably to Bob Evans, her favorite restaurant next to Denny's, which is now closed in Columbus. That wasn't it. Carol decided to give her the money and explained she would take her to the salon whenever she was ready. Mom had different ideas. She bought a bag of Tootsie Pops, complaining that there were no chocolate suckers in the bag, and a big bag of dark chocolate-covered peanuts. "They cost $16.49 a pound. That's really rich," she said. "But I'm in heaven. Carol is disappointed, but it's my gift and I'll spend it the way I want."

At church, Tracy took Mom to the restroom where Mom pulled up her skirt and her pantyhose and panties down at the counter. Beanie was ready for her. Mom wasn't ready for Beanie. Mom slung her purse onto the counter and pushed the plunger, forcing most of the B12 liquid out into the Baggie. Beanie fussed and Mom stood there with her hind parts exposed while Beanie sucked the liquid back into the syringe. "This isn't very sterile or sanitary, Mom. Why do you have to sling your purse around?" Mom shrugged and Beanie jabbed Mom's hindquarters and pushed the plunger. "Well, happy Mothers Day."

On Friday, 15 minutes before Beanie's day ended, she emailed and said I should write something for Mothers Day since I wouldn't get to sign the card. "I'd like to print it out before I go home at 10:30." By the time I got the email, I had ten minutes to write something so Beanie could print it out and take it home. I came up with something and sent it. Mom got it with her cards and money yesterday at church. Mom was touched, somewhere other than in her head for a change. My birth mother, Aunt Anne, was there, too, and Mom let her read my poem.

"I told her it was for both of us," Mom said when we talked yesterday. "She got this big smile on her face."

After church, the siblings took Mom out for lunch: biscuits and gravy. They must have gone back to Bob Evans. Mom's a one-note kind of person, at least one note at a time, especially when it comes to food. She's not adventurous at all, but she does get some strange cravings. Dark chocolate-covered peanuts are mundane compared to the usual. She is a junk food junkie and I think it's all the preservatives that are keeping her alive despite intestinal resectioning and removal, monthly blood transfusions and B12 shots, colon cancer, and numerous surgeries. And she's turning that dog, Dink, her baby, a little Chihuahua, into a junk food junkie, too.

"I have a sucker and I give Dink a sucker. Whatever I eat, Dink eats, except for my pudding. I don't share my pudding."

If Dink eats as much junk food as Mom does, she'll last a long time, too. Circus peanuts, the big pinky-orange hard marshallowy kind, was the favorite for a while and now it's Dove dark chocolate candy. She goes through about a bag a day of Dove chocolate and a half bag of Tootsie Pops. Peanut brittle, Russell Stover chocolates, Bit-o-Honey miniatures and candy of every description have all made their appearance. She went on a pinwheel kick for a while. Pinwheels are graham cracker cookies with heaped high with marshmallow and covered with dark chocolate. The one thing she hasn't become tired of is chocolate pudding and she has at least one box of pudding every day. In addition to the other junk, she is now on a homemade milkshake kick, chocolate, of course.

Mom's favorite holidays are, and have always been, Easter and Halloween because of the candy. When we were all little, Mom hunted through our bags, ostensibly for anything containing needles, razors or other dangerous foreign objects, but in reality she was culling all the chocolate for herself. At Easter, she bought Cadbury cream eggs for our baskets; we each got one. She got the rest and another bag or two for herself. Her purse always smelled of Kleenex, lipstick, powder, Wrigley's gum and candy, usually butterscotch. She hasn't changed, and yet she complains that she's getting fat again. She weighs 112 pounds and looks like the running gears of a katydid.

She's beginning to remind me of Aunt Lyda, her mother's sister. Aunt Lyda was 4-feet 10 inches tall and could eat like a team of ranch hands. At least, Mom doesn't drink alcohol like Aunt Lydia did, so it's unlikely when she does end up in a nursing home or senior community she will ever get kicked out for habitual intoxication. I'm sure they'll find other reasons to let us know she is no longer welcome, like feeding Dink in the dining hall.

For all of Mom's idiosyncrasies and rough spots, she has a good heart that continues to beat to its own rhythm, probably covered in dark chocolate.

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