Welcome to a special edition of Tuesday Twin Talk honoring my mother and all of the mothers of the world who have the hardest job in the world. Happy Mother’s Day!
“What did you do then?”
“I threw a roll of paper towels at her… then I left.”
Mom looked away, momentarily embarrassed, and shrugged. “They were in my hand.”
I thought of the constant comments and nasty behavior of the woman who’d been somewhat of my mother’s nemesis over the years and how most people would have reacted to such treatment. Most certainly more aggressive than assault by paper towels— Merely a step above a pillow fight.
Over thirty years ago, and this was still the most aggressive display of violence I’d ever heard about by my mother. If you scoured for mom’s picture anywhere you’d find the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” etched beneath her picture.
This was a woman who, by most standards of today, should have a lot to say…as a child of divorce when divorce didn’t happen, being robbed by her best friend of the little they had, and the Uncle I never got to meet… all before raising five children through tough times.
This memory came back to me as I waited with my mom for her second ride on the life flight helicopter, something most often don’t live to tell about once, let alone twice. The first time, with a heart attack two years ago, as she tried to brush off the nurses while they fussed over her, claiming her pain was a five, on a scale of one to ten—while she was having a heart attack. So when she said the pain in her head was a nine today…
“I have some scars there,” Mom gestured to her arms. “And most of my body, from when I was five and was playing with matches.” She made light of it, but I remembered the story…
“Why won’t you wear the bracelet I bought you mom?” An eight year old me, asked mom. Ever the teacher, she used the moment to talk to me about fire safety. To tell me about when she was five, a burn barrel and a shift in wind resulting in her catching fire and the scars it left behind on most of her body. “What happened?” I’d asked, since I knew it must have a good ending— cause mom was here to tell me this story so many years later. “My mother took me to the doctor and they told her there was nothing she could do …but take me home to die.”
But she didn’t. Not in the year she spent in bed at age five, nor the helicopter ride two years ago, so I was confident this time, again.
So five days later when she joked, “Now when I go to the wizard I will have to ask for a brain as well as a heart.” I knew the wizard couldn’t grant that wish. As there was no way to find someone with as much heart—as the woman who still never has a bad thing to say about anyone. Who adores children; as she continues to work in daycares long after her retirement from teaching young minds…
Nor could the wizard find an improved brain—for the woman who can stretch a dollar to ten and makes lemonade out of lemons as she constantly celebrates the little things in life…as my mother.
I’m glad he doesn’t have to. For if the entire world settled their disputes in paper towels, the world would be a…softer, cleaner place.
Tell me—What makes your mother like no other?