Sunday, May 13, 2012

96. Mothers

Sometimes I don’t know what to think about C.W. He knocks on the door this morning and when I look out, there stands the perfect image of my long departed mother. My first impulse was to go back to bed when she yelled, “Open this damned door right now, Jimmie Gayle. And don’t make me have to tell you again.”

What could I do? As I let her in, I said, “C.W., I don’t think this is very funny.”

“It’s Mother’s Day,” she said. “Or have you forgotten?”

“How could I forget with all the jewelry store ads on TV?”

“Are you going to ask me to sit down?”

“Sure,” I said. “Have a seat.”

I have to admit, he had done a good job of shift-shaping. It was my mother in her forties. The one who loved to fish and who would help me save up fifty cents to buy the latest Elvis Presley record. The one who tried to teach me to do the Charleston, laughed a lot, and knew one song each on the piano, the guitar, and the mouth harp.

She straightened her skirt and placed her hands on her lap. “I’ll tell you one thing,” she said.

“What’s that?”

“I wouldn’t have one of them cell phones if you was to give it to me.”


“Some idiot plumb near ran over me on the way here and when she finally passed, she was yappin’ away.”

“It is a problem,” I said.

“Aint’ they go nothin’ better to do?”

”Apparently not.”

“Speakin’ of nothin’ better to do,” she said. “Are you working on mine and your daddy’s history?”

”A little each day.”

“You can get distracted,” she said. "I worry."

“I’m working on it.”

“You put the part in there about that old Bessie Shannon,” didn’t you?”

“Which part would that be?”

“The part where she told Miss Averitt that me and your daddy was so dumb it took two of us to drink a Cocola.”

She looked at something far away. ”She turned into a damned religious fanatic later on. I might have guessed.”

C.W. was good, I’ll have to admit. He had my mother pegged. She always maintained a healthy distrust of religious fanatics and anyone who didn’t like FDR.

“There’s something else I want in there,” she said.

“What would that be?”

“Remember when you got all down in the dumps over some girl you met in college and come cryin’ to me about it?”


“Well I want it told right. What I said was this. When I married your daddy, I wasn’t a bit in love with him. I married him for one reason─I knew he worked and if I married him I wouldn’t ever go hungry again.” She paused. “And I never did.”

“Is that it?”

“No,” she said. “Here is the important part. We got married and had it hard. Lord, we had it hard. We sharecropped and done whatever we could at first. Then we bought the grocery store and worked in it together night and day until I woke up one morning and realized that I worshipped the ground he walked on.”

The relationship your species has
with your mothers is one of
its more admirable traits. - C.W.
I pretended something was in my eye.

“I hope you feel that way about your wife,” she said.

“Oh, I do,” I said. “But she can be a pill sometimes, just like you.” I smiled.

“I got to go,’ she said. “Me and your daddy are going to see your Uncle Raymond and Aunt Lucille.”

With that, she was gone. I was left thinking of what an Ernest Hemingway character once said.

“Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

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