Saturday, May 16, 2009

Laugh Loudly and Often

Mama had a well developed sense of humor and I'm pretty certain that she would appreciate the WTF Awards. She conferred quite a few such awards in her time. Her favorite time to share her nominees was usually at 7:00 am on a Saturday morning. The telephone would ring very loudly, (Ever noticed how the phone rings much louder than usual before 10:00 am?) causing me to flail about in an effort to locate the phone and extricate myself from the bed covers.


"Good morning baby girl, were you asleep?"

No, I'm up planting a vegetable garden to feed all the starving children in the world and when I get done, I'm going to bring about world peace. Okay, I never said that, instead I'd say, "Hey mama, I was just about to get up." We both knew I was lying but it didn't really matter.

Mama's favorite candidate for a WTF award was her sister, my Aunt Nellie Ruth. I could judge just how extreme my Aunt Ruth's behavior had been based on whether my mother simply called her Ruth or Nellie Ruth. Calling her by both of her given names was a good sign that whatever event my mother wished to relate was a real doozy.

My Aunt Ruth is in her 80's now, but she has been behaving with all the entitlement of someone who has reached the age of 100+ since she was in her early 50's. My mother swore that Aunt Ruth just decided to be old one day because she felt that entitled her to demand that everyone wait on her. Perhaps that's why Aunt Ruth had such a predilection for calling the rescue squad. She never had her "attacks" in the daytime; it was always in the wee hours of the morning. Around 4:00 am, Aunt Ruth would awaken and determine that her head felt hot, and that she felt dizzy. Certain that she was having hot flashes as a precursor to some major attack that involved her heart, she'd dial 911, get dressed while waiting for them to come, and be waiting when the rescue squad arrived, fully dressed and carrying her pocketbook. Once she got settled at the hospital, she would call my mother and announce, "I'm in the hospital. You need to come see about me and notify my church members that I'm in the hospital."

At first, my mother would hurry to get to the hospital, but after several years of multiple emergency room visits, mama would turn over and go back to sleep, confident that she could wait until the sun rose to check on Aunt Ruth at the hospital. Mama also began to question the hot flashes that always preceded the 911 call.

"Nellie Ruth, you can't be having hot flashes at your age! You're in your 70's, you don't have anything to have hot flashes with!"

"I am too having hot flashes all about my face and head. I've had three heart attacks!

Aunt Ruth doesn't call the rescue squad any more. She has settled into regular visits to her doctor in the daytime. She has never been diagnosed with any heart trouble of any significance, but she still insists that she has had more than one major heart attack. Indeed, her heart is so weak that the doctors didn't tell her directly that she has had the heart attacks, but she knows from the way they look at her and whisper in front of her.

Mama's youngest brother, my Uncle David calls me often just to talk. He used to talk with Mama several times a week from his home in Dallas. We find ourselves cracking up over how my mother would relate one of Aunt Ruth's 911 adventures.

Mama wasn't perfect and neither was our relationship. She was fully human, like the rest of us. We had our disagreements, our confrontations over things that I can't really recall any more. What I remember was her laughter, her ability to do all the voices when she was telling a story, the way she remembered the smallest details of the events that she related.

Thank you for all of the loving comments. I really am okay; I wouldn't trade the occasional tears for anything. They just remind me of how much I loved her and how much I was loved.


Beth said...

I'm smiling a big ol' smile right now. XO Beth

Indigo said...

You know I see a lot of your mother in you, the humor and compassion. This was a beautiful moment down memory lane. Thank you for sharing this with us. (Hugs)Indigo

Linda S. Socha said...

Nice post S. You are in my thoughts. I think your blog is top notch

Lynn said...

What a sweet story. I think most of us have one of those relatives and we all love them.

Char said...

Ahh, nice post. Warm memories are the best! There the ones you should hold on to.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Your mom sounded great and very funny. Your Aunt sounds like a real character. This post made me laugh.

Love you,


Gerry said...

That last sentence about realizing how much you loved her and how much you were loved says it all! That is cause for a celebration for a life well lived, and memory will cause her to take another comforting form, so you will not have to miss her too painfully. But healing from loss must come first. And that is what you need attention for. Gerry

Dannelle said...

My mama always used the phrase- "Honey, I'm not well yet" meaning I can't deal with any problems but my own- it became a family saying- love that Auntie Ruth

warrior scout said...

of course i love your tales and your insight. and thank you for the kind words my friend.

i would say that i indeed know you are "okay". there is much about letting go that we have to learn as we get older. it's not really fun, but it is a requirement, i think.

maybe we are also learning to enjoy the now in ways we couldn't understand before. i know that i have enjoyed a new friendship with someone from another part of the country in ways that i would never even imagined before...

thank you for the strength you have and that you give...

chefkelly25 said...

I loved the way you told that story. Kelly

Joy said...

What a great memory! Your mother reminds me of some of my relatives. We have that kind of humor and love, too.

Deidra said...

Beautiful, funny, sweet, perfect story! Wonderfully told! Amazing Mama!

aims said...

Sheria! I love this story! Have I told you my mama's name is Ruth?
Thanks for sharing this with us.
Hugs to you!