Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Elsie didn't trust us so much to give the right answers.

“Mom vs mom”

    Tuesday, I had one of my “I’ve-gotta-call-Mom” moments. Something in the newspaper triggered a desire to share something.

    I’ve had fewer and fewer of these episodes over the years. I doubt I would’ve had this one had it not been for the fact that Mom passed away six years ago today. There’s obviously something biological that causes our brains to equate certain events with position of the sun.

    You could blindfold me, stick me in the middle of a field, and, come fall, I’d be thinking about football. Late May still feels like the end of school to me. The first time the thermometer dips below 60, I sense that Christmas is a day or two away.

    And, ever since I got the call from Larry late in the night, my thoughts of Mom seem to pick up as July 12 approaches.

    Kay and I were having breakfast for supper at IHOP a couple of weeks back, and a lady walked in with her near-two-year old daughter. They were seated at a booth across from ours. As soon as they got seated, the mother asked, “Now, are we going to be a good girl this time?” The kid thought for a second and then said, “No.”

    I immediately thought of Mom. My mother never asked our intentions. -- Are you gonna behave? Are you gonna be nice to your sister?– Mom had seven kids, and not one of us ever had such a question directed at us.

    Mom didn’t trust us to come up with the right answers, so she never asked. She told us what we were going to do. “You’re gonna behave yourselves in the store, or you’ll be walking home… with a limp.” 

    The mother at IHOP also said, “Summer, please put the fork down.” Summer thought about it for a second and then dropped the fork. The mother thanked her.

    Elsie never began an order with a “please.” Nor did she ever thank us for doing what she told us to do.  -- “Dennis, please quit strangling your brother.” THUD. “Thank you, son. Now who’s a nice boy? Oh, yes you are.”

    No, it would go more like this:  Whop! “Leave your brother alone!” A good WHOP took care of just about anything. 

Regardless of the discipline, I loved Elsie so much. Respected the daylights out of her. I knew she loved us, yet, she showed no favoritism. We all got spanked pretty much the same. Except for Big Al. You ask me, that little dweeb suffered from too few whoppings.

    Truth is, Mom saved my life hundreds of times. She did it by not telling Dad. When Dennis and I got into some big trouble – the kind Dad needed in on – Mom would say, “You just wait till your daddy gets home.”

That always sobered us up big time. As I remember, she told on us one time. She waited till she caught Dad in a good mood and then sprang the news on him. We walked away with a stiff lecture. Important thing is – We walked away.

I doubt Elsie-discipline would hold up in this day and age. Somebody would end up spending some serious time in lockup. – “Mrs. Hayter, it says here that you threatened to -- Let me see – ‘Kick your son into next Thursday.’ How do you plead?”

I would have to testify in Mom’s defense. It was the only way she could control us. I feel certain we would’ve laughed at “please” and “thank you.” We were experts at exploiting any sign of weakness. 

No, a good threat and an occasional spanking worked with us. The more humorous the threat, the more effective it was. If you can get a kid laughing at the thought of what you might do to him, you’ve pretty well won his heart and soul.

Mom took a chunk of my heart with her when she left us on that July night. During my youth, that woman cooked, cleaned up after, shopped for, and prodded me along the way I should go.

And, during my adulthood she kept the family close. We’d have cookouts, parties and get-togethers every other weekend. -- Now? Not so much. It’s just the way of things.

One of the things I miss most about not having her around is the fact that my mother prayed for each of her kids everyday. When she went to bed on the night she died, I’m certain she mentioned me to God.

Wish I could call her and tell her how much that meant to me. I know she knew, but still…


1 comment:

  1. Love you Moke... good article. She's one missed Mom. --jill--