Things Mothers Do

I miss all the things my mother used to do for me. Even though she had to get up to a freezing house at five-thirty in winter to do it, she always had a hot breakfast on the table when we got up, usually hot biscuits, eggs, fresh milk, homemade jam or preserves, and either grits or oatmeal.  Like most kids, I didn’t want it, but she insisted. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!”  After the whirlwind of getting the older kids on the bus, she’d wash, iron, clean, sew, and tend the garden.  When she finished her own pleasant tasks, She’d do whatever extra things Daddy had lined up to help her pass the time, all between taking care of however many of the children might be babies or toddlers.

Laundry and ironing weren’t easy in the 1950s and 60s.  Mother had a wringer washer and clothes line a lot of the time I was growing up.  Daddy eventually replaced it with a barely functional used automatic washer after she had her fourth baby.  It was a boon when it worked, a curse during its frequent breakdowns, leaving her to do diapers on a rub-board and wait for the neighbor repairman.  Mr. J.T. had a real job and worked calls in when he could.

She boiled starch for our prissy ruffled, dresses, Daddy’s and my brother’s pants and shirts, sprinkled them with her coke bottle-capped sprinkler, then set herself to the task of ironing forty or fifty pieces of cotton clothing each week. One glorious Christmas, Grandma gave her a steam iron and changed her life forever.

By the time we got in from school, Mother had a big dinner underway: meat, either beans or peas, and another vegetable, potatoes, fried or mashed with gravy, and biscuits or cornbread. If there wasn’t dessert, Daddy complained.  She couldn’t get by more than two nights without dessert of some type without trouble.  Everything was homemade.  I really miss all the wonderful things my mother did for me and didn’t appreciate at the time.  Oh, she’s not dead.  She’s alive and well living seven miles from me.  She just won’t do these things anymore.

The Joy of Nursing

Early in my nursing career, I cared for Betsy Mercer, a young mother of six and seven-year-old boys who had lost her baby when the placenta detached before delivery.  She was catastrophically ill, suffering every complication. I dialyzed her for weeks while she was on the ventilator in ICU as she went from bad to worse to worse.  The only thing in her favor was her previous good health and the fact that she was a mother.  As a mother, I identified with the grief she’d feel at the loss of her little girl when she finally regained consciousness, and regretful that two little boys were likely to lose their loving mother.  I sang to Betsy and talked to her as though we were friends every day.  “Betsy, Your husband brought these pictures of your boys today.  They are so cute.  He said they miss you but Grandma Sweet is getting them to and from school.  Joey made you this bracelet and Kerry drew you a picture of your family.  He drew you the biggest.  He must really love you.”

I put the bracelet in her wrist every day when I was with her and posted the kid’s art where she could see it when she was turned to the left.  Patients who can’t move are repositioned often to keep their skin healthy and to help prevent pneumonia.  Late one Thusday I finished my shift and told Betsy I’d but would see her Tuesday morning after my long weekend, though I had little hope she’d be there.

I went back to the ICU to check on Betsy before my shift Tuesday morning.  My heart fell when I saw someone else in her room.  I felt just awful till I asked her nurse when she’d died.

“Oh, Betsy rallied midday Friday. She didn’t need dialysis and got off the ventilator Saturday night.  By Monday, she was so much better, she moved out to the obstetrical floor.

I was ecstatic at her recovery, and meant to visit her in her room, but didn’t get up there.  About six weeks later, a beautiful young woman stopped off at our unit to visit.  It was Betsy, fully recovered come to pay her caregivers a visit.  I’d never have known her.  It was such a joy to see her returned to health and her family.  It’s days like these that keep nurses coming back.

 

 

Laugh Your Way With the Best Guilt Joke of the Day


guilty2 guilty3

'What are these for?  You only bring me flowers when you've done something good.'

‘What are these for? You only bring me flowers when you’ve done something good.’

guilty5 guilty6 guilty7 guilty 8 guilty9

'Son, your mother and I don't even recognize you anymore.  You've become some sort of twisted animal.'

‘Son, your mother and I don’t even recognize you anymore. You’ve become some sort of twisted animal.’

Dear Darling Son and That Person You Married,
I hope you are well. Please don’t worry about me. I’m just fine considering I can’t breathe or eat. The important thing is that you have a nice holiday, thousands of miles away from your ailing mother. I’ve sent along my last ten dollars in this card, which I hope you’ll spend on my beautiful grandchildren, who I never see. God knows their mother never buys them anything nice. They look anemic in their pictures, poor, thin babies.
Thank you so much for the birthday flowers, dear boy. I put them in the freezer so they’ll stay fresh for my grave.  I know I’ll need them any day.  Which reminds me — we buried Aunt Lucy last week. I know she died years ago, but I got to yearning for a good funeral, so Aunt Minnie and I dug her up and had the services all over again. I would have invited you, but I know that woman you live with would have never let you come. I bet she’s never even watched that videotape of my hemorrhoid surgery, has she? I am still suffering.
Well son, it’s time for me to drag myself to bed now. I lost my cane beating off muggers last week, but don’t you worry about me. I’m also getting used to the cold since they turned my heat off and am grateful because the frost on my bed numbs the constant pain. Now don’t you even think about sending any more money, because I know you need it for those expensive family holidays you take every year, though you never come see me. Give my love to my darling grand-babies and my regards to whatever-her-name-is — the one with the black roots who stole you screaming from my bosom.
Love Always, Your poor, old mother