Kathleen Swain and her daughters
Upper Left, Linda Swain Bethea, Right, Phyllis Swain Barrington
First Row Left, Kathleen Holdaway Swain (see how deceptively nice she looks) Connie Swain Miller, Marilyn Grisham
It’s discouraging writing about my mother, Kathleen Holdaway Swain. Despite my long, rich history of complaining endlessly about the trials of dealing with her, she keeps getting the best of me. It’s made worse because I tower over her, outweigh her, and am much more physically imposing, but then, who isn’t? I do my best to take care of her, and should I exhibit the slightest impatience, onlookers treat me like I am maligning a saint. Granted, she is tiny, far less than five feet tall, has a squeaky Minnie Mouse voice, and looks like a delightful little old church-lady. Though she smiles and greets every soul she meets, inwardly she is malicious and conniving, constantly plotting to make me look bad. Sometimes it doesn’t take much.
Not so long ago, my sisters and I took Mother on a girl-trip. We were laughing just before we got out of the car about the way she’d lecture us against potential bad behavior before she had to drag the five of us hyenas (her word) into a store or business. When we inevitably started to ask for stuff, anyway, despite her stern warning, she’d fix us with a look from Hell and warn, “Don’t start! Just don’t start!” That dried us right up.
First of all, Mother is the slowest person in the history of Motherdom, in case I never mentioned it before. As she walks along, she keeps a look out for lost coins in the parking lot and frequently finds them, additionally stopping to greet all passersby. This was the first stop of the trip. I was hurrying ahead leaving her to drag up the rear, since I had to buy gas, thinking my sisters could keep her out of trouble. Rather than dawdling with them as they got out of the car, she came running behind me like her life depended on not getting left, and believe me, it was not because she intended to buy gas. She has four daughters to take care of that. As a joke, she picked it where our conversation left off, calling behind me, “Linda, wait for me! I want you to buy me…….”
Not realizing we had an audience of a couple in their late sixties, I called out behind me, without bothering to look, knowing she was just continuing our conversation from the car. “Don’t start! Just don’t start!” Men in their fifties and sixties just love Mother, assuming she is just a sweet, little old lady, just like their dear mother. They have no idea of the trouble she is capable of. The man glared at me, striding into the store, leaving my poor, mistreated, little, old mother alone and uncared for, abandoned in the parking lot. He took her by the arm and helped her into the store, making sure she had all the attention she needed. He fixed her up with a sandwich and coffee, after fixing me with a scathing look of hatred. I had no idea what I might have done till she rubbed my nose in it later. I only wish he’d hung around long enough to know she was on her way to destroy the bathroom, literally, but more on that tomorrow.
To be continued…….