Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Mother Busted Me for Going Commando

It was toward the end of a recent visit to North Carolina, and I was down to one pair of clean underwear.

And so I faced a dilemma: Wear my last fresh pair to visit my mother on her birthday? Or save it for the day after, when I'd be flying home to San Francisco? (Wearing dirty underwear, in my opinion, is never a viable option.)

Ultimately, the fear of my airplane dropping from the sky, and my improperly attired body plunging with it, was the deciding factor. The thought of showing my crack in someone's driveway, even posthumously, was just too much. Besides, I reasoned, my mother lives in an Alzheimer's facility. She'll never notice.

When I arrived, my mother, Ruth, was surrounded by two of my sisters, Nancy and Julia. I was wearing a pair of baggy shorts, and I took the chair opposite Ruth. It didn't take long before Ruth grabbed one of my pant legs, peeked up it, and asked me something along the lines of "What are you wearing under there?" Stunned at first by the question, I admitted I was "going commando," and we all had a hearty laugh about the fact that my 93-year-old mother had just busted me for not wearing underwear.

Later, Ruth turned to Julia and asked "Do you bleach your hair?" My mother was particularly fascinated with my shirt, a red Polo shirt with a large exotic bird on it, and with Nancy's Paul Frank monkey-face watch. She looked at us and suddenly said, "I can't believe I gave birth to all y'all." Then she paused and added: "And I kept you, too."

In other words, Ruth was more observant, engaged, and upbeat than I'd seen her in a long, long time.

The afternoon wasn't without its bittersweet moments. Repeatedly, Ruth asked my sisters and me to call our father, who died in 1993. We'd explain that we'd called him just now and gotten a busy signal, or that he was working, or that we'd call him in a minute. Even though the excuses grew easier to make, each one stung just a little.

And then, Ruth announced that this was "the happiest day of my life." That was why it was so important for us to call her husband. She was having so much fun, she didn't want him to miss any of it.

Nancy, Ruth (in Piggly Wiggly T-shirt), and Julia




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14 comments:

  1. It's lovely that she kept you and was able to (in some sense) enjoy your company for that day.

    Mothers have some sort of Spidey sense or something; they'll bust you for the one thing you'd never expect.

    BTW, I love the pw shirt!

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    1. Mothers do have a Spidey sense, Claudia, as I'm sure you know.

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  2. PS: Couldn't you have bought a pair of underwear or washed a pair somewhere? ;)

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  3. This is such a sweet and touching story. Glad your mother was having the "happiest day of her life" with her loved ones around!

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    1. Thanks, Urban Mantra! It was such a nice pay off for the many other visits that didn't go so well.

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  4. I too love the fact that whatever the disease has taken from your mother, it has not taken her knowledge and love of her family from her. She knows that you are her charges in this world - to love and be loved in return. This, of course, accounts for the fact that she busted you (As it was in the begining, is now and ever shall be world without end). I also was fortunate to have had a mother whose love was hard wired in her DNA. When it bubbled out, it made the difficulties of the last years bearable.

    Peace.

    PS My mother always said "I'm going to take you back."

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    1. Thanks Will J. It's true; apparently a mother's love is not something she can forget.

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  5. Love this story! Nancy told me about it yesterday when I called to say hello. She was hysterical repeating it. I understand this moment is caught on video! Can't wait to see that video tape:) What I also love is that this was a "happy moment" for all of you as well. It will be a time that all of you will cherish and remember for all your days.

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    1. Hey Deb, I thought about posting the video, and I probably will post it on Facebook. It's pretty funny! And you're so right, I will cherish that experience forever.

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  6. So your mom was having the best day of her life and then you ruin it by going Commando? ;-) Just kidding. That probably was the highlight of the day! I'm so glad that your mom continues to have "best days of her life." That must be very comforting for you.

    And, here's my thought on the drawer choice: if I'm in a plane wreck, I'm probably going to burn beyond recognition. Surely, no one would be able to identify my (or your!) buttcrack? Just a thought.

    God Bless Ruth.

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    1. Hi JuJu, You're right about the burn beyond recognition. Still, the thought of going commando on an airplane just didn't sit well with me. How weird is that?

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  7. Or you Scottish? What a bittersweet story - how wonderful you were still able to bring your mom so much joy.

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    1. Marianne, I think I do have some Scottish blood -- but not enough to make me wear a kilt.

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  8. My stepdad had some of his most lucid moments when all of us kids were together with him
    The only difficulty was when he wanted us to talk about his first wife, who died long before all but my stepbrother were around

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