Moms - can't live with them, can't live without them

June 13, 1997

No matter how old you get, your mom's still your mom. Mine came to visit for a few days last week, for the first time since dad died.

I quickly found that even though I'm fi-fif- (oh well, I tried), she's still my mother, by God. And there's not a thing I can do about it.

During our time together in my small apartment, I was reminded that:

  • Moms like to take care of you, whether you like it or not.
  • Moms - even the 71-year-old variety like mine - have more energy than their kids.
  • Moms maintain the ability throughout their lives to make you feel guilty, without saying so much as a single word.
  • Moms can make you crazy.

When mom said she was coming in from Ohio, my first act was to pray vehemently that she would make it in one piece. To put it mildly, driving is not one of her strong points, and nobody in the family lets her do it unless it's unavoidable.


Sometimes prayers are answer-ed. She made it.

"I drove about 52 miles an hour the whole way," she said. "I just took my time."

"Fifty-two?" I said. "The speed limit's 65."

"Well, I figured if anybody didn't like it, they could just go around me," she said. There was a pause. "Terry, you wouldn't believe the cars lined up behind me when I drove through the construction areas on the turnpike. I think some of them were a little peeved, but the sign said the speed limit was 45, and I didn't want to get a ticket."

Like I said, we don't let mom drive.

Mom settled in. The first couple days were fun. We went to the Blues Fest and visited with some of my friends.

Then we went to Bingo, and played the jars and guilt happened.

I bought some tickets out of the jar. Mom opened a $25 winner, and promptly said, "You're not going to buy more tickets with this. You're going to cash it in and keep it."

I rolled my eyes and protested. She gave me that disapproving look.

Instant guilt.

The next day, I had to go back to work. I set the alarm for 6:30 a.m. At 5:30 a.m., I was awakened to the sound of some lady selling jewelry on the Home Shopping Network. I tried to ignore it.

Then mom did what she always does, which makes me crazy. She started talking to me just as if I was awake. Which I wasn't.

"Terry, you should see this necklace ... ."

"Mom, I'm sleeping. Please don't talk to me," I said.

"Oh, don't be so grouchy. You're about to get up anyway, aren't you?"


Then she tried to take care of me, as I fixed coffee in a fog.

"Let me make you a piece of toast," she said cheerily. "You should eat breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day."

"I don't want anything to eat, mom," I said. "Thanks, anyway."

"Oh yes, you do," she said.

"Oh no, I DON'T," I responded.

"You're stubborn," she said in disgust.

(Look who's talking, I thought).

I went to work. When I came home, the gate to my garden was gone.

"I took it off. It was fun," mom said. "It was falling apart. Now we're going to go get some lumber and build another one."

The next day when I came home my entire railing was painted, and mom had finished hand-sawing the boards for the gate to length. The entire brick path in the garden was cleaned.

"Jeez, mom, you shouldn't have done so much work," I said. "I don't want you to work the whole time you're here. You should rest."

To be very honest, I wanted to rest. Mom wouldn't let me.

"I can rest at home anytime," she said. "Go get your hammer. We're going to put this thing together."

After the gate was up, we went inside to watch a little TV. It was then that I saw my cat Cassie, who is a vegetarian, dining on a small palm that was sitting on the living room floor. It wasn't on the floor when I left for work, mostly because I didn't want it eaten.

"It needed more sun," mom said.

I yelled at Cassie.

"Oh, let her eat it," mom chastised. "It won't hurt her."

"Maaaa-ommmm, I'm not worried about Cassie, I'm worried about the plant," I said as I yanked it out of Cassie's mouth.

"Well, I think you ought to let her eat it. She's probably missing something in her diet," mom said.

"Mom, next time you come in, bring your house plants, and she can eat them," I said as sweetly as I could.

Despite all the little annoyances, it was a good few days. Mom was still my mom, and I was still her daughter. I found out I could live with that.

Now that she's gone, I miss her.

Terry Talbert is a Herald-Mail staff writer.

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