If you knew Mom you might be thinking that some of her humor has been left out of these posts. Have a seat. I've got some today.
Mom was funny. Sometimes she meant to be funny and sometimes she didn't. One of the things I loved the most about her was that she had an uncanny ability to laugh at herself. In fact, I think laughing at herself was one of her best story topics! She would admit to things that some of the rest of us just might leave untold. To her, they were good fodder for her tales.
She laughed a lot about crazy things she had said, and a few years before she died, an old friend shared with her about something she had said in elementary school. At a reunion, the old friend told Mom that he had always thought she was the bravest person he had ever known. Of course she loved hearing that but she wasn't quite sure what bravery he had seen. He described what he remembered . .
Way back in the second or third grade, they were studying about hygiene in class. The teacher had spent a long time one class period discussing the need for bathing regularly and all that was involved in keeping one's self clean and healthy. He said the next day the teacher explained that she was going to do something very important; she was going to find out, for sure, who had truly learned from her lessons. She walked around the quiet room, up and down each row and stood, looking down at each student. And then she looked into their eyes and asked them, "Did you take a bath last night?"
The students were nervous as she walked among them and sounded scared as they reported, one by one, that "yes, they had taken a bath." Mom's friend told her he couldn't remember when he had taken his last bath, but he looked up and proudly said, "yes, ma'am"! And then it was Mary George's turn. This is how Mom's friend described it to her - "That teacher came to you and looked at you all smiley, like she was already so proud of you, and then you went and did the bravest thing I'd ever seen - you looked right up into her eyes and told her you just hadn't been able to take a bath the night before and you were real sorry but you knew for sure you'd take one tonight." Mom loved that story!
The story you must hear, though, is not quite as G-rated. If you know this one, you must be wondering if I was going to tell
it. If you don't, you're in for a treat. Today's post might not be the
most tasteful, but it is just too good to gloss over. You must hear
this. After my parents divorced in the early eighties, Mom began attending get-togethers with a group called Parents without Partners (PWP as we affectionately grew to call it). That turned out to be such a positive experience, and the friends she made in this group were among her best. She made unbelievable memories and shared good times (and bad) with an amazing group of people. There was one gang of women who were exceptionally close and they began to spend more and more time together. Mom and her friends eventually became known as "The War Council" as they always seemed to be scheming about one thing or another.
The man who gave The War Council their name became a great friend of Mom's, too, and the two of them had some awesome adventures together. The best, though, was near the beginning of their friendship. From time to time, PWP would have dances or special parties and they were lots of fun. Jodi and I were happy to see Mom enjoying things and loved to hear her tales of each event. At one particular dance, Mom's friend felt like he had had a bit too much to drink and he asked Mom if she would drive. She explained that she was happy to drive but she wasn't too good at a stick shift. I need to interject here - Mom saying she was not too good with a stick shift is a bit of an understatement. She was BAD with a stick shift and wasn't terribly good at driving of any kind. In her youth, she once borrowed her father's car to drive her cousins around on her aunt and uncle's farm. She told the younger kids to watch as she planned to maneuver the car expertly between two poles. The car was wider than the poles, unfortunately, but that wasn't the most unfortunate part. The worst part was that she proceeded to continue driving the car through the poles, denting both sides, until she had gotten to the other side, rather than backing out of the damage. I digress.
Back to the trip home from the dance. Mom assured her friend that she could do it if he could just help her as they went. They got into the car, and the bouncing, jerking, convulsing began. I only wish you could hear Mom's friend tell the story. Each time I heard him explain it, the jerky movements of the car got worse! He said he'd never sat through anything quite that bad. It was not a pretty ride. He began to believe that his driving the car would be much, much safer.
And then it happened, a blue light began twirling behind them. Mom panicked, but her friend panicked more. He explained later that he was terrified that Mom would say something crazy. As she worked to fitfully get the car to the side of the road, he reminded her not to say too much. "I'll handle the whole thing. You just give him your license and stay real quiet. It won't be a problem."
The officer came to the car and bent down to look. Mom looked up at him. Mom's friend stared straight ahead, praying she wouldn't mess up. The cop asked Mom if she had any idea why he had pulled her over - no, she didn't know of any reason he would have pulled her over. The officer went into great detail about how she was swerving from side to side and jerking to and fro. He asked her if she had had anything to drink and she said no. He looked at her license and did whatever it is that they do when they go back and forth from car to car. Mom got really nervous. It would be just horrible if she got in trouble with the law - how would she explain something like this? She tried to stay quiet. Really, she did. But she just couldn't.
When the policeman leaned back down to look into the car, Mom nervously shouted, "Please officer - oh, please - don't give me an I.U.D.!"
After that, after they all stopped laughing, things were all right. The officer did not give her an IUD or a DUI, but he did decide he'd feel better if he followed her home. And in the telling and re-telling, Mom laughed the hardest of all.