Update on Mother


I have been AWOL for a while due to some family situations, so I have some updating to do.  First of all, I’ve always posted a lot about Mother.  She is fine at ninety-two.  We avoid getting out because of corona virus, so it was a treat to go blueberry picking a few days ago. We only saw a couple of other pickers far afield, as happy to avoid contact as we were.

The sky was a pure, crystal blue and mountainous, cottony white-clouds transformed above us.  Had I been nimble as a five-year-old, I would have stretched out in the grass watching clouds change from horses to gnomes, to a covered wagons. Six decades certainly interferes with the pleasure of prolonged cloud performance.  A slight breeze brought welcome comfort in the Louisiana heat as we lounged with lemonade at a picnic table shaded by a giant oak.

I do believe this cloud was working up to the Pillsbury Dough Boy.



Mother still works in her yard almost every day.  She  comes from long-lived stock.  Her grandfather lived to ninety-six, before succumbing to stubbornness.  He might still be with us otherwise. He had a numb leg from a Civil War injury. An iron bedstead did him in when he hung a toe on his iron bedstead heading outdoors to the toilet, tripping  and cracking his head..  A brain bleed did him in four days later.

Evil Incarnate on a Pink Tricycle

imageMother gets pretty hot about a few things.  One of these is problems with mail delivery.  One day, she got to her mailbox to find her mail tattered,torn, and lying on the ground.  Worst of all, a government check had been ripped.  Somebody was going to pay for this crime!  Rabid with rage, she cornered a couple of kids who gladly gave up the perpetrator to save their own sorry hides.  They’d seen a little blonde-haired girl with pig-tails standing on her pink tricycle rifling through Mother’s box.  Mother gave the little snitches a five dollar reward after they located the child’s tricycle parked in front of a house two streets over.

Armed with this information, Mother called the Sheriff’s Department to report the heinous crime. Regaling him every shocking detail, the criminal’s description, description of the getaway vehicle, and last known address.  The deputy laughed, asking if she’d had the check back.

“Yes, but that’s not the point.  I want this stopped!  Tampering with the mail is a Federal Crime!”

“Lady, what do you want me to do, put out an APB on a little three-year-old girl on a pink tricycle?”

Horror Movie, Really

image courtesy of Wikipedia

We NEVER went to the movies.  I don’t mean rarely.  I mean never.  Sadly, the night in question didn’t do much to change that, except to let me know that the inside of the theater was dark and smelled like popcorn, a fact that didn’t change my feeling much, since I didn’t get popcorn.

Oh, well.  On with the story.  Mother decided we were due a treat. One fine August night, we were going to see a movie!   She’d saved up her pennies, dropped Daddy off at work at three, and took us to the ten cent movie at the Spring Theatre in Springhill that night.  If they planned to recoup low attendance with popcorn and drink sales to us that night, it was a bad business plan.  Mother smuggled peanut butter sandwiches and a communal jug of water for us to share after leaving no doubt she wouldn’t be buying snacks.

Any, we trooped in like a line of big dumb ducks, clattering about three-quarters down the aisle where Mother thought we could see best.  It was quite a parade.  Mother directed us toward the center of the row, sending Phyllis and Connie to be seated first.  Phyllis was a good sister and could soothe the restless toddler as well as Mother.  I followed.  Mother and Marion, a baby in arms, and Billy were next.  Billy and I couldn’t be trusted to behave in church, so she always sat between us.  I don’t know why Mother thought I couldn’t behave in a movie.  It would have to be way better than church.

Back the, there was no multiple choice in small-town movie.  Movies were rotated out once a week.  You got what you got.  As soon as the cartoons went off,  that night’s feature rolled: “The Interns.

I could see right off there would be no cowboys, Wonder Horses, ghosts, or monsters.  I was disappointed, but still, I was “at the movies.”  Sure enough, in about ten minutes, my ears perked up.  The scene opened on an obstetrics ward.  I was very interested in finding out all I could about sex.  Mother had always reacted with outrage when anything came on TV about pregnancy or to raise questions she didn’t want to answer.  It didn’t matter if thousands of Indians were about to scalp Custer, any indication that a woman might be in dramatic labor jolted her into action.  I was delighted when I heard the line, …”and I better not catch any of you young interns messing with my young mothers!”  I snapped to attention!  There was no way Mother could turn the movie off.  I was finally going to find out what happened when “my pains were two minutes apart.”

Mother was incensed! She’d led us right into the belly of the beast. Not only had she brought us to a “dirty movie,” now she was going to have to put with with questions. She was mad! For someone who went around having babies Willy Nilly, she sure was touchy!

She grabbed Billy out of his seat and pushed him to the aisle, sputtering all the way. He was all set to see a movie and now Mother was dragging him out.of corse he protested. I slid into the aisle, right behind Mother. Phyllis, a “good Christian,” mirrored Mother’s attitude.  All us kids were disappointed.  We didn’t even get to go to the “bathroom of sin.”  Mother wasn’t rising any backward peeks.

I don’t remember my parents having a good car.  The model Mother was driving that night was at least ten-years-old. The kids piled furiously in the car, having been deprived of a wondrous treat.  Furious herself, Mother threatened.  She wasn’t putting up with any hateful backtalk.  Mother has always been a doofus of a driver and hates parallel parking and backing up. Simply said,  she couldn’t drive nail in a fat hog’s rear. See, I’m getting mad again just remembering!  She can’t get out of average spots, much less, tight spots.  She had parked as near as she could to the corner, really close to the high curb, so as not to have to reverse.   In fact, she was so close we all had to slide out on the passenger side.  Remember, she was scared of backing up.   Sadly, she’d miscalculated and left just enough room for a car to back in front of her, boxing her in.  She’d also failed to notice a power pole left back bumper.    She was hopelessly locked in till that car’s happy owner finished watching the move we’d just been dragged out of. We finished the peanut butter sandwiches and jug of water  in record time?  It was hotter than a cowboy’s whorehouse on payday as we waited that hot August night.  I only wish I’d known these phrases while we sat in the hot car.  A good beating for a filthy mouth would set the evening off to perfection.

Does this sound dirty?  I pulled this straight from Wikipedia.

The Interns is a 1962 American drama film that starred Michael Callan and Cliff Robertson.[2] This film is a medical melodrama that presages many similar TV programs to follow. It centers on the personal and professional conflicts of young medical interns under the tutelage of senior surgeons, Telly Savalas and Buddy Ebsen. The film was followed by a 1964 sequel, The New Interns, and a 1970–1971 television medical drama series, The Interns, that was based on the films. The Interns was directed by David Swift.[2]

The Interns
Poster of the movie The Interns.jpg

Directed by David Swift
Produced by Robert Cohn
Written by Walter Newman
Based on The Interns
1960 novel
by Richard Frede
Starring Michael Callan
Cliff Robertson
Music by Leith Stevens
Cinematography Russell Metty
Edited by Al Clark
Jerome Thoms
Robert Cohn Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • August 8, 1962
Running time
120 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $9,230,769[1]



A class of interns arrives for their first year in training at a public city hospital, which serves patients from many different ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Close friends and classmates John Paul Otis (Robertson) and Lew Worship (James MacArthur) plan to become surgeons and open their own clinic together. They are less than thrilled about their assignment to obstetrics, feeling that delivering babies is not very difficult.

Lew becomes romantically involved with student nurse Gloria (Stefanie Powers), while John becomes infatuated with fashion model Lisa Cardigan (Suzy Parker). Lisa dislikes the idea of dating a relatively impoverished young doctor, and is pregnant out of wedlock by another man. Although John offers to solve her problem by marrying her, she pressures him to illegally obtain pills for her in hopes of ending the pregnancy. He finally does so, and is caught and reported by Lew, ending their friendship and John’s medical career.

Sid Lackland (Nick Adams) aspires to serve wealthy patients so he can make a lot of money. Then he becomes attached to Loara (Ellen Davalos), a girl from a poor village in Southeast Asia, who is one of his patients. She has a rare medical condition and is scheduled for a serious operation. Loara resists his friendly overtures because she is sure she will die in the hospital. Sid is heartbroken when Loara dies during her surgery.

Alec Considine (Callan) wants a residency under eminent psychiatrist Dr. Bonney, and secretly cheats on his wealthy fiancee Mildred (Anne Helm) with Dr. Bonney’s longtime nurse Vicky Flynn in hopes of being introduced to the doctor. To keep up his medical duties and spend time with both women, Alec takes Dexedrine to stay awake. Although he does meet Dr. Bonney, who offers him a residency, Mildred discovers his affair and leaves him.

Madolyn Bruckner (Haya Harareet) aspires to become a surgeon under abrasive Dr. Domenic Riccio (Savalas). Despite her skills as an intern, Riccio discourages her because he is prejudiced against female doctors, assuming they will abandon their medical careers to get married and have children. Riccio later finds out Madolyn has already been married and has a child, yet is still pursuing her medical career as a single working mother.

At the end of the year, Alec, Lew, and several other interns come under suspicion when a terminally ill, immobile patient who has been begging to die is found dead of a barbiturateoverdose. None of the involved interns can accept their residencies until the source of the drugs is found, creating a risk that the residency offers will be withdrawn. Alec, strung out on Dexedrine, has a nervous breakdown at the thought of losing his residency with Dr. Bonney. Lew and the other interns visit the patient’s wife and find out that she gave him the drugs after being worn down by his constant pleas that if she really loved him, she would help him die. As a result, the interns are no longer under suspicion and can accept their offers.

Lew, having developed an interest in obstetrics after delivering a baby, accepts a residency at the same hospital, and convinces Gloria, who had planned to travel and see the world, to marry him, instead. Sid gets an offer from a wealthy hospital, but inspired by Loara, he goes to practice in impoverished Southeast Asia, instead. Riccio hires Madolyn as his resident assistant. John, now engaged to Lisa, visits his former classmates and tells Lew he respects him for his sense of ethics. A new class of interns arrives and Lew shows them the way to their dormitory, just as a doctor did for him the previous year.


Mother’s Garden

Mother built the little path herself as well as a stone patio using little-old-lady-sized rocks. She does all her own planting.  I dig the big holes for her.  She does the rest.  She does have he perennial “rose covered cottage.”  She twines pink climbing roses over her porch rails.  They are mean.  It cured the problem of free-range kids climbing on the rails. Her neighborhood is full of them.  She sprinkles flour over tomatoes and warns the kids they might get poisoned.  It works.  She never loses a tomato anymore.  The neighborhood kids used to pick them and her flowers, but now they worry about the poison.

It Couldn’t be Helped Part 12

Now for the poop part of the story, Once Mother gets a notion in her head, she can not be side-tracked. Mother and I stopped in at the grocery store one morning. As we made our way back to my vehicle, I spotted a dignified elderly gentleman hurriedly making his way back to his own car parked adjacent to mine. He seemed to be in some distress, so I slowed my place to stay out of his way. As he sidled past me, I got a whiff and realized the reason for his scurrying. I slowed my pace and acted distracted to give him time to get to his car and save his dignity.

Meanwhile, Mother was right behind me. She didn’t notice his predicament, only that an oldster was getting ahead of her. She is vain about being spry for her age and was determined not to be left in his dust. She picked up her pace, catching up to him. Getting into my car as the wind changed, she got a foul whiff of feces. They were standing back to back, almost touching as she inspected her shoe and announced. “Something smells awful. There must have been a dog running loose doing his business. Better check your shoe. I don’t have anything on my shoe.” Just in case I hadn’t heard, she repeated, just like I was five years old. “You’d better check your shoe! Something smells awful! Don’t you smell it!” By this time, the poor man was sitting in his car with the window open.

“No, Mother. I don’t smell a thing. Get in. Let’s go.” By this time, the whole town had to know what the problem was.

It seemed like an eternity before we got away. “Mother, that man had messed up his clothes and was trying to slip into his car. Of course, I smelled him. Dead people smelled him. I was just trying to avoid embarrassing him. You were just about backing into him.”

She was horrified. “Oh, My Lord! Did I get anything on me? Oh well. It couldn’t be helped!”

It Couldn’t Be Helped Part 11

First of all, I was born in the deep South in 1950, another world. Mother was determined to raise us to be above criticism. This was hard on me, a kid quite comfortable with criticism. Our language was subject to all kinds of boundaries. The first thing that set us apart from the great unwashed was that we “wee-weed” and “gee-geed”. I’ve met other prissy kids who “wee-weed”, but I have yet to meet another “gee-geeer”. (g as in go) See, there’s not even a right way to spell it. Being a “gee-geer” in a world full of “do-doers” is rough. On top of that, I grew up with a bunch of renegade cousins who were too bad to “pee-pee”. They “pissed, do-dooed, ka-ka ed, dookied,” and even worse, they “shat.” They said these words in public, in front of their parents! Mother led us to believe they were exceptions to the rule, bound for hell. Imagine how humiliated I was when I went to school with normal people, didn’t realize I was a weirdo, and said “gee-gee” the first time. Uhhhhhhh! She set me up!!!!!!!

Unbelievably, Mother had me convinced I would get caught if I said anything on the bad list. I yearned to cut loose, but, in the interest of growing old, curbed myself. Mother never specifically categorized forbidden words, but we all knew their rank. The F-word would have been an unforgivable sin. Besides, the first hint of its existence was in the sixth grade from my cousin Cathy, and she pronounced it “Funk.” Wouldn’t I have looked like an idiot writing that on a gym locker? I still avoid typing anything that starts with a capital F. Next in line, comes S-H-I-T. I did not say the word. I just spelled it. Mother even spelled S-H-I-T once to make a point. My sister Connie dropped a skillet on her toe and said, “Crap!!!!” Mother told her she might as well have said “S-H-I-T.” It was just as bad. Fortunately for Connie, she didn’t take Mother up on her advice or she wouldn’t be here today.

It would have been unthinkable to say “G—-Damn!” Lightning surely would have struck. It was saved for drunks, harlots, atheists, scientists, and other unregenerate sinners. You couldn’t have dragged it out of me.

We were fortunate enough to hear “Damn” occasionally. “Damn” did not put you entirely beyond the pale; just made your raising suspect. That was the worst thing about bad language. It put your mother in a bad light. Guilt was the best control. “You ought to be ashamed. You’re raised better than that! How can you talk like that? People will think we talk like that at home. We’re not the kind of people who talk like that. What if Daddy heard you talk like that? …………..” This could go on for a while, ending with, “ I’m so hurt!” It was okay to make Mother mad. I did that all the time. “Hurting” her put a kid beyond the pale. She’d drag herself around looking like a martyr till she was convinced you’d suffered enough or till the next kid really messed up. Nope. You didn’t want to “hurt” Mother

I did experience one miracle in my childhood. Daddy was a grouch, a nag, bossy, and impossible to put up with on his best days. He criticized all of us relentlessly. After knee surgery, he was in a cast, on crutches, and couldn’t drive. Whenever he had to go somewhere, we all took off in the opposite direction. Recovering from surgery did not enhance his sunny nature, no one wanted to drive him. It was a misery from the time you got in the car till you baled out. He was free to critique every portion of your being, from your personality, your behavior, your attitude, and most of all, your driving. One fine day, Mother got stuck with the job of driving him, and in his usual sweet way, he was torturing her. “Speed up, slow down, change gears, don’t ride the clutch……………!!!”

Connie and Marilyn were stuck in the back seat, listening to his incessant lecturing, when Mother finally got enough. She pulled the car over, killed it, clamped her teeth, and hissed at him, “Shut your damned mouth. I don’t want to hear another word out of you.” Stunned, he shut his damned mouth. She cranked the car and drove on. Connie and Marilyn were shocked beyond words. None of us had ever heard Mother say “Damn!” We’d all wanted to tell him to shut him damned mouth at least a million times, but hadn’t had the nerve.

When they got home, Mother stormed into the house leaving Daddy to struggle in on his own, instead of holding the gate, shooing the dogs away, and holding the front door for him like she had been doing since his surgery. It took him a while to manage the gate on his crutches. When he finally dragged in, he made a big production of collapsing into his recliner, raising his feet to a comfortable position, and asked for something for pain. Mother went on about her business, ignoring him. He asked me to make coffee. I brought him a cup. He called us all in; he had something to tell us. The last time he’d done this was when he’d announced they were having a new baby. I was pretty sure that wasn’t it as grouchy as he’d been lately. Once, he had everyone’s attention, including Mother’s, he put on a hurt face, looked around at us, and confided sadly.

“Children, you’re not going to believe what your mother said to me. She told me to ‘Shut my damn mouth’.” The room exploded. We were all laughing out of control, thrilled Mother had finally had enough and stood up to Daddy. It was a fine moment for the entire family. None of us shut our damned mouths for quite a while.

I’m not even going to talk about “titties!”

It Couldn’t Be Helped Part 10

Kathleen, my octogenarian mother was snatched from sleep at three in the morning by the sound of hysterical screaming and pounding on her front door.  Through the peep hole, she recognized her neighbor, a frail, single mother clutching her toddler and tiny infant, begging to come in.  Mother was horrified to hear that Melinda had been raped at gunpoint, the lives of her tiny children threatened.  Nonetheless, Melissa called the police and an investigation was begun.

The next morning, the neighborhood was in an uproar.  Residents stood in the streets discussing the details and studying the composite drawing.  Mr. and Mrs. Smith and their son Jeremy stood on the edge of the crowd listening intently.  Mother had been meaning to go meet them, so as a friendly neighbor, she pulled them into the conversation.

Of course, the rape was on everybody’s mind, so Mother launched into her rapist defense plan, boasting of the shotgun under her bed and her plan to shoot to kill, not mentioning the rusty shotgun hadn’t been fired in thirty years, and never by her. She didn’t even know if she had shells. She was ready.  Eventually, tiring of the drama, the crowd dispersed and went about business as usual.

About two hours later, Mother was surprised to answer her door to Mr. Smith and Jeremy.  She had liked them well enough, but hadn’t expected them to accept her invitation to coffee so soon. After chatting a bit, Mr. Smith brought up the rape. Mother launched into her plan for the rapist, getting more excited as she continued, embellishing the agony in store for him should he be so foolish as to cross her path.  She wasn’t one of those namby-pambies who feared killing an intruder.  She’d go straight for the heart.  Should there be anything left afterward, she’d empty her gun in him just for fun.  Jeremy, a sullen teenager, rolled his eyes as much as he dared in the company of his father.  He was a little smart aleck, but Mother still thought it was nice of him to come down with his dad to check on her.

Mr. Smith was still very concerned about Mother’s safety despite hearing of her excellent rapist deterrent plan. Inspecting her locks for security, finding scratches on her back door, showing the rapist had tried but failed to gain entry there.  He asked to see her shotgun, and upon inspection, found the safety rusted shut.  When he asked her if she had a pistol, it caught her by surprise.  She had to admit she didn’t.  Mr. Smith pulled an heirloom quality pistol from his jacket, showed Mother how to fire it, had her demonstrate, loaded it and left, Jeremy in tow.  Mother was touched at his concern and generosity, realizing the pistol would be a lot more good to her than the ancient shotgun with no shells, at least theoretically.

A few days rocked by. The Smiths moved.  Little Jenny Whitmore who lived opposite the Smiths recognized Jeremy from the composite photo.  He was arrested, confessed to the rape and sent back to Wisconsin to serve the rest of his suspended sentence on his previous conviction for sexual assault.  Now Mother understood Mr. Smith’s concern for her safety.  Melissa and her babies moved away.

Life settled back down.  Relieved to have this business settled, Mother’s little neighborhood once again felt safe, secure and friendly.  The only fly in the ointment was when Mr. Smith came calling a few weeks later to reclaim Mother’s/his lovely pearl-handled pistol, not so generous after all.  She still feels bad about having to give up that sweet little pistol.  It was cute and old, just like her. (to be continued)

It Couldn’t Be Helped Part 9

When two intruders broke in her house, she made one of them help her into her robe before she would talk to them.  She gave them eleven dollars, telling them, “That’s enough!”  They thanked her when they left, telling her to “have a nice day.”  She told the police officers later, “They were polite and had been raised right

I think this story sums Mother up better than anything else.  She gets rattled over little things, but is a rock when something huge challenges her.

I got a call from her after midnight.  “I’m okay.  Don’t panic.  The police are on the way!  I just wanted to let you know someone kicked my door down!”  You can imagine the horror and shock that message sent through me, imagining my poor little mother at the mercy of God only knows who, not even a door against the night.  Bud and I flew over.

By the time we got there, police officers were there investigating.  Her shattered front door was propped up on her front porch, splintered wood splayed around her living room.  Mother had coffee ready for us. (I told you she was calm in a storm.)  She had been sleeping when awakened by two young guys dressed in black, with black ski masks, one brandishing a baseball bat.  The nearest advanced down the hall, demanding her purse. She cooperated, but asked, “Can you get me my robe?  It’s hanging on a hook on the bathroom door. I can’t be walking around in front of you with no robe.”

He agreed, getting the robe, helping her into it since she was having a little trouble with her shoulder, probably sorry he’d ever started this.  His partner laid down the bat, thank God, demanding her purse.

Fearing he’d think she was going for a gun, she said, “It’s on that shelf.”  He bumbled and found her library books in a bag, ready for return.

“These are just books.”

“Just behind them.

This time he found her wallet.  Digging through it, he was dismayed to find only eleven dollars.  “Is this all?”

“Yes, I only have that because I was going to buy gas tomorrow.  I never keep cash.  It’s too dangerous!”  Truer words were never spoken.  She usually has to dig in her car to find change for a coke, preferring to bum off whoever she is with.  It’s a wonder she didn’t ask the robbers for money for a coke while she had them there.

“What about your bank card?”

She said she gave him a disgusted look, thinking, “Now, that’s going too far. Eleven dollars is enough!”

They must have realized their business with her was complete, turning to leave.  Before going down the steps, the one who’d helped her into her robe returned for his bat, telling her, “Have a nice day.” As they walked toward the door, she thanked them for not hurting her.

She summed the whole story up for the officers, promising to get in touch if she remembered anything else.  “I don’t think they ever meant to hurt me.  They were both as polite as could be.  I think their mother raised them right.”

I am so glad she did. (to be continued)

It couldn’t Be Helped Part 7

I don’t know why Mother comes home and tells these stories on herself.  She wasn’t arrested or shunned by her congregation.  Despite the impression the title of this post makes, Mother is very faithful to her faith, tithing, attending services weekly, and supportive of her church.  She normally writes a monthly check for her tithe, but one Sunday decided give an extra cash gift.  This was a fine idea, except that she only had twenties and wanted to give fifty dollars, not sixty.  Well, the obvious solution to her was to put three twenties in the offering plate and take out a ten.  For most people, this would have worked out fine, but Mother has been known to bumble, especially when she is concentrating hard.  When the plate was passed, she put in her three twenties and lifted a ten and a twenty.  She felt vaguely uneasy passing the plate on.

It was on her mind through the rest of the service, getting little out of the service, except a vague feeling of guilt when the pastor chose the text of “the widow’s mite.”  As soon as she got home, she counted her cash, realizing she’d committed a theft from God.  She wasn’t struck down by lightning when she waited until the following to return that twenty.

Anxious not to repeat that error.  She decided it would be best to purchase a money order to put in the offering plate.  Mother is notoriously tight with her money.  Hearing that “Mr. Thrifty,” the local liquor store had the cheapest money orders, she scurried in to purchase one.  Unfortunately, she locked her keys in the car.  There was no way to hide this fiasco.  She had to call me to bring her the extra key.  Naturally, I made the most of this ridiculous situation, since she CLAIMS to be a teetotaler.

The story didn’t end there.  As she put her money order in the offering plate the next Sunday morning, she noticed a big “Mr. Thrifty” logo emblazoned prominently on the bottom.  Baptists normally  have the grace not to advertise their visits to liquor stores so boldly.

My sister’s son is a minister.  Upon learning that he has accepted the pastorate of their home church, Connie remarked, “Now Mother has to start coming here.  Oh no, forget that.  He doesn’t need Mother stealing from the offering plate and losing her bra at our church.”

More on losing her bra at church later.  (to be continued)