May 7, 2016

Not My Mother’s Mothers’ Day Card

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“I’m Wonder Woman!” Susan held out her arms and we hugged.

“Yes, you are!” I enthused.  “What are we talking about?”

I hadn’t seen Susan in three weeks. She’s a longtime friend, indispensable assistant and librarian for All Present; copy editor of my memoir and occasionally of something particularly egregious in one of my blog posts.  And now she’s Wonder Woman.

Susan and her husband Mike had been in Connecticut to move Susan’s 102 year old mother into an assisted living facility.  Cecile had refused to leave her home where she had lived alone—and blind– for the 15 years since her husband died.  Militantly refused.  And she didn’t want anyone living with her either; the aides that managed to visit for more than two days before they were fired are an exclusive lot.  Cecile would have welcomed Susan, but that was a bit of a problem since Susan lives on the other side of the country.  The biannual trips Susan and Mike made to Connecticut were becoming harder for everyone including those of us who had to hear about them.

Susan could have been put up for Daughter of the Year just for getting Cecile moved to a place where she was tentatively content.  But in ten days’ time she also managed to clean out Cecile’s house and sell it!  Let’s all take a moment so those of us with experience with elderly parents can bow our heads in awe at this amazing accomplishment.  And then spend a minute reflecting on the iron will of a redoubtable 102 year old blind woman who could take care of herself, thank you very much.

I know a lot of Susans.  I distinguish the Susan of this essay as the wittiest woman I know.  She’s full of throwaway lines that leave me snickering for weeks.

The oldest of my stories goes back to when Susan was living on Bainbridge Island in a townhouse her kids bought her so she would babysit for them.  They also gave her a cell phone so they could call her when they needed her but she only turned it on when she wanted to use it.  Anyway a bunch of us went over for a house warming.  When I used the bathroom, I spent a little time looking at things in there, you know how you do.  OK, snooping.

When I came out of the bathroom and for no other reason than that I thought I was being funny I said to Susan, “I hope you don’t mind but I used your rubber tip to get something out of my teeth.”

“Oh that’s OK,” she shot back.  “I just use it to clean toe jam.”

Next oldest favorite story:  a bunch of us were talking about yoga.  I had just started a class in Viniyoga as distinguished from Hatha yoga, from Bikram yoga, from hot Bikram yoga.

“Bikram yoga?” Susan interjected.  “It would be faster and cheaper to just lie down in the parking lot and let a truck run over you.”

Susan has a striking pair of earrings: elongated silver leaves that dangle from her ears.  She was wearing them one day when a man came toward her pointing and saying, “Those would make great fish lures!”

“I tried it once,” Susan said. “But I couldn’t hold my breath long enough.”

Since I am posting this on Mothers’ Day weekend it seems appropriate to tell you about a Mothers’ Day card Susan received from her son who I will call Tim.  It read:

“Thank you for letting me push my bulbous head through your lady parts.”

He signed his brothers’ names to it.  I’ll call them Jeff and Brian.  When Jeff saw the card with his name attached, he was appalled.

The next year, in spirit of not fixing what’s not broken, Tim signed his brothers’ names to a Mothers’ Day card that read:

“Thank you for excreting me.”

Susan is a good friend and a fun person to know.  But oh, what I wouldn’t give to have had a mother I could talk to like that!




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