Queen Envy

My mother, Kathleen, has suffered from Royalty Envy her entire life. First of all, Princess Elizabeth was born two years ahead of Kathleen, giving her an unfair advantage. Seeing Princess Elizabeth featured in magazines and newsreels in gorgeous dresses surrounded by her retinue fascinated and frustrated her. Clearly the young royal had done no more than she to deserve this sumptuous life. To add insult to injury, Princess Elizabeth had beautifully curled hair. Kathleen suspected it was a much coveted permanent wave.

One or two fortunate girls of Kathleen’s acquaintance prissed about haughtily showing off their permanent waves. Kathleen knew every penny in her household had a purpose, so it never occurred to her to mention her yearning for a permanent wave. Periodically, her older sister curled her hair with rag curlers, but those curls paled beside the beauty of a permanent wave. Even worse, Princess Elizabeth’s hair might have been naturally curly. What cruel accident of birth would bestow curly hair upon a royal child and condemn Kathleen, a tow-headed, child of American The Great Depression, to struggle through at least ninety-four years of lanky, string-straight locks.

Kathleen avidly poured over any mention of Princess Elizabeth in newsreels, news papers, and magazines, alternately admiring and envying the girl unaware of her existence. Every time she visited to outhouse, she read and reread a magazine article about the princesses, fully aware Princess Elizabeth wasn’t reading about her in her dainty water closet.

Kathleen excelled at the tiny school in Cuthand,Texas, sometimes helping her janitor father clean after school, aware that Princess Elizabeth was educated by governesses, later attending the finest private schools. While the princess attended soirees, Kathleen picked beans, fed chickens, and gathered eggs. There was definitely nothing privileged about her rural life.

As time passed, Kathleen had less time to devote to her rival who was now queen, though she noted with satisfaction her own children were more handsome and probably smarter. She was a bit critical of the queen’s style; too many pastels and over-large hats., though it seems she would have been pleased that something that obscured the queen’s curly hair.

Some things never change. I mentioned the other day the queen might be schmoozing with the heavenly hosts right now since she’d beaten Mother to Heaven. Mother remarked snidely, “You don’t know that for sure, do you?”

I knew she’d say that!

Bad, Good,better

The day after his wife disappeared in a kayaking accident, an Alaskan man answered his door to find two long-faced Alaska State Troopers.

“We’re sorry Mr.Jones, but we have some information about your wife,” said one trooper.

“Tell me! Tell me! Did you find her?” Jones shouted.

The troopers looked at each other. One said, “We have some bad news, some good news, and some really great news. Which do you want to hear first?”

Dreading what was coming, an anxious Mr.Jones said, “Give me the bad news first.”

The trooper said, “I’m sorry to tell you, sir, but this morning we found your wife’s body in the Bay.”

“Oh my God!” exclaimed Jones. Stammering, he asked, “what’s the good news?”

The trooper continued, “When we pulled her up, she had 12 twenty-five pound king crabs and 6 good-size Dungeness crabs clinging to her. In all fairness, you are entitled to a share in the catch.”

Outraged, Mr. Jones demanded, “If that’s the good news, what’s the great news?”

The trooper said, “We’re going to pull her up again tomorrow.”

Photo by Summer Li on Pexels.com

No Fool Like……

Things didn’t go well from the start on Croc’s last visit to the vet. My half mastiff, half lab doggy boy weighs one hundred twenty-five pounds and pulls like a tractor. Desperate to sniff a steaming pile of poop, he snatched me down the instant I stepped out of the truck. I sprawled elegantly across the pavement, knocking my nose on the curb. I’d foolishly worn a skirt, so passersby were treated the view of my new undies as I struggled to grab the leash and avoid a greater disaster. Fortunately, Croc was fascinated by a steaming pile of dog poop and hadn’t escaped into traffic. He pondered sampling it as I struggled to my feet, felt around to find my glasses in another mess, and staunched the flow of blood from my damaged knees. He showed no sympathy for me as we made our way in, choosing instead to attempt a friendship with a five pound Yorkie. The tiny beast and her dainty mom were traumatized at the slobbering beast dragging me toward them. My muddied, bloodied countenance did little to reassure the duo, despite my assertion he only wanted to play. Happily, the teeny dog was the original mean girl. She tore into Croc, teaching him a lot about little, mean dogs. The staff got us in a room straight away. No waiting!

Four hundred and fifty dollars later found us checking out. By now Croc was happily munching his cookie. Once again, I was sobered at the cost of well-dog care, despite having experienced it only six months before. Incidentally, I had another dog at home scheduled for a pricey visit the very next day. I definitely can’t handle both at once. I’d made that mistake once, a sad story for another day.

Mean Doggy and her mom stood between my behemoth and the exit. Meany snarled maniacally at us, terrifying Croc. I enjoyed that. Momma was crying to the staff, “Can you find a home for her. I’m sick and I can’t take care of her no more.” She sobbed piteously. It was heartbreaking so I hurried out. After I got Croc, also known as Meatball, in the truck, I called Bud.

“Can we adopt a Yorkie? A sick, old lady has to get rid of her.” I went back for the poor dog. Miss Ann, her mama was delighted she’d found a sucker and pulled out her tattered checkbook to pay for Meany’s visit.

On learning her bill was ninety dollars, Mama paled. “Can you hold this check till next Tuesday?”

“I’ll get it. She’s my responsibility now.” Miss Ann took my number. True to her promise, she visits Biscuit, the little Yorkie, pretty often. She’s even taken Biscuit home for a visit a couple of times. Biscuit always seems to enjoy their visits, but doesn’t mourn for her.

More to come.

Escape Artist

Kate was an absolutely adorable little bundle of energy, her smile, a burst of sunshine.  I couldn’t get enough of her, except at bedtime.  Bedtimes were a marathon of up and down, back and forth.  She climbed like a monkey. By sixteen months, she’d mastered climbing over the rails of her crib.  With no fear of falling, she’d plunge to the floor.  In the interest of saving her brain, we had no choice but to put her in a twin bed. The total freedom of that bed made getting her to bed even more of a challenge, usually involving cuddling, books, quiet play, and numerous trips to put her back to bed.  Most of the time, I had to lie down with her till she drifted off.  As often as not, I’d be asleep first so she’d try to crawl over me to get out.

We had dinner guests one evening.  I made a fruitless effort to get her to be early. It seemed to give her extra energy for her usual festivities. This particular evening, she was proud she’d learned to take her clothes off, so she stripped to the skin before emerging naked as the day she was born.  I left the table four or fives times to times to dress her and put her back to bed.  The admiration of the guests only strengthened her determination to show off.    Bud always thought he knew a better way.  The last time she showed up, ringlets bouncing and little pink butt shining, he took a stern tone.  “Baby girl, if you pull your clothes off and come in here again, I’m gonna knock a knot on your head.”  This would have been a first if he had laid a hand on her. He put her back in bed and said in a gruff tone, “Now, I guess she’ll stay there!”

Our conversationed resumed.  I wondered resentfully why he hadn’t done that before.  After a few minutes, we heard pat, pat, pat coming down the hall.  A tiny girl, grinning like a bear eating briars tip-toed into the ding room.  Naked as a jay bird, she wore her brother’s football helmet on her head.  I guess he had made an impression.

 

Turkey in the Bra

Most nurses have to work half the holidays.  It’s a fact of life.  That means, you’re also working with a lot less help on those days, not always the best situation.  Patients need the same care as any other day. Since Bud and I were both nurses, we just planned our celebrations around the holiday, not a bad idea, anyway, since our many siblings had other family to visit.   One Thanksgiving, I was the only nurse working in the hemodialysis unit, assisted by a technician.  I made sure my patients knew when they were scheduled, so their family could have an uninterrupted visit, hoping not to cut a family visit short.  It’s a bad idea for a patient to eat a heavy meal before a dialysis treatment, so I always encouraged them to have no more than a light snack, to avoid a vomiting episode.  Patients who eat a large meal are very likely to throw up during their treatment.

The patient I had scheduled for one o’clock just couldn’t resist the delectable Thanksgiving Dinner his family had brought from home.  He had turkey, dressing, green beans, and pecan pie.  After a preliminary conversation and pretreatment assessment, I asked if he’d had a snack before coming.  “Oh yeah, I had a little bite of turkey.”

I got his treatment started and all was well for a few minutes, then the truth came out about his hearty lunch, literally.  He started heaving.  The whole menu was presented, dessert first, since it was on top.  Pecan pie is not appealing the second time around.  Turkey and dressing came up next, followed up by green beans.  He filled his own lap and the blanket covering him, with plenty to spare.  As I cleaned him up and got him into a fresh gown, he served up seconds.  This time it was turkey,  green beans with a few bits of egg.  Fortunately for him, I caught most of it in a towel.  The rest splattered me. He felt much better with his stomach empty and went right to sleep.

I always had extra scrubs in my locker for just such an occasion. While the technician watched the patient, I ducked into the staff bathroom.  I peeled the disgusting clothes off, trying to avoid getting the mess on myself.  I scrubbed myself, but didn’t have a fresh bra.  I swabbed the drenched one the best I could with a washcloth, and put on fresh scrubs over my bra.   I knew I smelled sour, but there was nothing else to be done.

We finished his treatment, uneventfully.  Hours later I got home.  The kids told me I stunk.  The dog agreed.  He couldn’t leave me alone, burning to investigate the intriguing aroma. I couldn’t wait to shower. When I peeled off my bra, turkey and green beans tumbled out.  They’d left an imprint.  Bud was repulsed.  The dog was entranced, gobbling them right up.

Rock and Roll, Mama

When I was a kid, nothing would have shocked me more than the thought of hurting my mother. Despite this, when I was about ten, my brother and I came upon my mother rocking the baby, one of her few opportunities to take a break out of her impossible day. She had very little lap for the baby, since she was hugely pregnant with another.. Most often, she drifted off for a little nap herself. We thought it would be fun to surprise her by pulling on the back of the rocker, tipping her back. She must have been shocked or extremely good-natured, because she laughed out loud. Foolishly inferring we’d pleased her, we rocked her even further back, with her continued shrieks  of, “Stop! Stop! You’re going to drop me!” Because she seemed to be having so much fun, we kept it up till the chair tipped backwards, leaving her stranded, lying with the rocker back on the floor, swollen feet high in the air, under the weight of two babies, one on top of her belly, the other inside nearly ready to pop out.
We were horrified, thinking we’d killed her. The baby was howling at being upside down on her incapacitated Mama. Of course, Mother could do nothing to help herself, except shout, “Help, get me up! Get me up!” I thought we’d killed her, and probably the squalling baby, as well as the one on the way. The two of us struggled to get the chair up, learning a valuable lesson in physics at the same time. It’s a lot easier to tip a pregnant woman over than to get to her upright. Everybody did survive, despite our idiocy. The miracle was, the whole situation struck Mother as funny. Since then, I’ve never tempted to tip another pregnant woman over.

Healing……No!

My children took advantage of one of my fatal discipline flaws.  Should their behavior cross the line and require discipline, activating my funny bone rendered me useless.  The pastor in our small Methodist Church offered healing by laying on of hands at the end of the regular Sunday Service. I suspect that was one of the few times John, age ten, had ever listened.  He made a move as though he was heading to the front.  I was totally surprised, and caught his arm, thinking he’d misunderstood.

”What’s going on?”  I asked.

”I’ve got a heat rash!”  He giggled.

”Sit down.”  He got me.

 

Misogynistic Cat

Patches was an appealing calico  kitten until you took her personality into account. She clearly had issues.  I have to admit, I never got her to a cat psychiatrist, so my diagnoses may not impress the more knowledgeable among  you.  At first, like any kitten, she was all teeth and claws as she frisked around.  My daughter was a sweet little girl, totally enamored of Patches.  That fickle feline  wouldn’t give her the time of day unless the child was opening cat food. Patches spit or hissed at me every time I got close.

Conversely, Patches couldn’t get enough of my son, even though he put forth nothing good.  He’d stick rolled tape to her feet and she’d come back for more.  He rubbed her fur the wrong way.  She loved it.  He never fed her.  My daughter would try to entice Patches to sleep with her.  Patches always struggled loose and sped into John’s room.  Should she be locked out, she yowled at the door till he let her in.

Patches might have been a Floozy in a previous life.  She loved Bud, too.  If John was not available, she’d cuddle up on Bud’s lap and purr like a washing machine.  I believe she also suffered from hallucinations.  From time to time, she’d be walking across the floor and seem to see something then panic wildly, before running to hide under a bed or sofa.  Other times, she’d wake from a dead sleep and run till she banged her head into the wall.  It was not uncommon for her to pursue an invisible mouse or yowl at nothing.  It never occurred to me me till now, but perhaps she was Seeing ghosts.

One night, John was gone, so Patches had to make do with Bud.   She hopped on him in bed,  moving several times, made a lot of biscuits, with her purring in overdrive the whole time.  It was impossible to go to sleep. Eventually, she settled down.  “Finally.  That’s a relief.” I said, “Maybe she finally went to sleep.”

In a muffled tone, Bud answered. “Yeah, well I’d feel a lot better if her butt hole wasn’t right over my nose.”

Connie said, “Damn!”

My sister Connie is seventeen months older than Marilyn.  She was protective of Marilyn from the start, always giving over to “the baby,”. She wasn’t encouraged to do it, that’s just how she was.  Mother awas careful not make a difference or favor Marilyn.  In fact, she was felt bad at seeing Connie knocked out of the baby spot, so bent over backwards trying to be fair.

Marilyn had no problem asserting herself. Since Connie didn’t want Marilyn to get in trouble, she rarely hit Marilyn back or tattled on her.  I infer this worked well for Marilyn..  As country children often do, one day Connie didn’t want to take time to go in and wee wee.  She simply darted behind a tree to do the job.  Finding an abandoned hubcap that served as a dog-feeding dish, she squatted and filled it.  As she stood, Marilyn slipped up behind her and kicked it, splashing Connie liberally.  Instead of smacking Marilyn like a normal kid would have, Connie just exclaimed, “Damn!”  Marilyn was off like a shot, looking for Mother,  Connie ,right behind her as soon as she got her wet clothes pulled up.

””Mama, Mama!  Connie said “Damn!”  This was big trouble.  Mother wouldn’t tolerate trashytalk.

Mother whirled around, shocked, expecting Connie to deny the evil deed.  “Connie, did you say, “Damn?”

”Yes.” Connie whimpered.  Had she told Mother what Marilyn had done, they would both have been swatted.

”Get me the fly swat.”  Mother kept a plastic fly swat hanging by the back door ready for just such a occasion.  She gave Connie two or three quick swats and dismissed her, while Marilyn stood by self-righteously.  It was years before Connie told the whole story.

I wonder if the dogs thought “Damn” later that day when they smelled pee in their dish.

My family:  I am in the back row Left, holding Connie’s hands,  Billy Center, Phyllis  holding Marilyn Right.