My mother and I have never had that relationship that some girls seem to have. My mom was never interested in being my friend, she was my mom. That said, we didn't do a lot of things that other girls and moms did. We didn't shop together because she is a loud talker and had no shame telling me that whatever I had on was "really tight across your bust. You are really getting a bust!" I believe it's because of this that I have developed such a dislike of dressing rooms. Even now, I hold whatever I am buying up against myself, buy it, and hope for the best. If it's too tight across the bust, I'll return it. No questions asked. Don't ask, don't tell. Just the way I like it. Unfortunately, this compulsion has also caused me to waste a lot of time standing in customer service lines at various department stores. And in the case of the "No return policy" stores, I just don't buy anything that looks questionable. My mom, I've noticed, is big on trying stuff on. Luckily her loud announcements of bust size has been passed on to my younger sister. Poor kid.
It seems that the media is bombarding us with advertisements for drugs that will cure what ails you. Depression, overactive bladder, or restless legs, there is a cure for you. Just talk to your doctor. My mother has always been a little bit of a hypochondriac. When these ads suddenly spiked in popularity, my older sister and I knew it was bound to be trouble. We had joked about Mom's ways, but always knew there was nothing really wrong with her. We didn't realize just how off her self-diagnoses could be. I remember walking into my parents' bedroom to find my mother sitting on their bed, riveted to the television screen, a familiar look of fear and anxiety on her face.
"What's up?" I asked nonchalantly, sitting next to her.
"I have," my mom began shakily, "all the symptoms."
"Oh?" I glanced at the television screen to see what prescription-only pill was being hawked today. I tried, unsuccessfully, to hide my grin as I told Mom my opinion. "Mom, I really don't think you have prostate cancer."
Abner was my little brother's first guinea pig of his own. My older sister had a series of Billies for a while, but Joey never had a real pet of his own before Abner. Abner came from a feed store that sold small animals on the side. Also, his original name was "Abby" because he was supposed to be a she. Even so, he was a fun pet. He would whistle for his carrots when he wanted a snack and was basically head of the household. About the same time Abner came to live with us, Oprah had a special about animal communicators. My stay-at-home mother of course watched. Convinced that it was a sham, Mom decided to give it a try with Abner. As she stood in the kitchen, Abner in hand she shushed all of us (we weren't going to miss out on this show) and concentrated. And concentrated. And concentrated. And just for the heck of it, she concentrated a little more. About the time we were ready for her to give up, Buster the Cat strolled into the kitchen.
"AHA!" Mom yelled out.
Buster, Abner, and all of us kids jumped.
"Abner doesn't like Buster. He just told me."
Laughing, we brushed it off. Then Dad got a new team of driving horses. Babe and Bess, affectionately known as the Big Ugly Mares or BUMs. Dad didn't like Babe's name, and according to Mom, neither did Babe. So, Babe became "Wanda". Because she said that was her name when Mom communicated with her.
Then, yesterday I talked to my mother on the phone. A family friend recently purchased a new horse. Because of his blue eyes, he was gifted with the uninspiring name "Blue". While meeting him for the first time, my mother and the friend were talking about how Blue didn't come when called. Mom said that maybe he didn't like his name. On the drive home (as she often does) she had something come to her: Blue's name. She instructed my younger sister to call her friend and tell her that Blue's name was really "Buddy". Laughing, the friend went out to the pasture gate and called for Buddy. The young horse immediately looked up from his hay and walked to his owner, who was amazed.
Today, while talking with Mom again, I jokingly asked Mom to ask my horse what she would think if I got a hot pink show outfit. My mother responded perfectly honestly: "Oh, they just tell me their names. I can't do any of that other stuff, really."
Moms in general seem to have a tough time with phones. When my mother got her first cell phone, I was insanely jealous and also incredibly entertained. The second we left the Cingular store, the phone was out and she was calling everyone she knew, including my uncle who had had a cell phone for several years. Watching my mother attempt to use the cell was hilarious. She didn't believe that the small phone would pick up the sound of her voice when she spoke, so she took to using the famous "Mom Walkie-Talkie-Phonie" during which she screamed into the mouthpiece and then quicky jerked the phone to her ear to hear the reply. This continued for several weeks.
Even now, she is awful about plugging one ear and screaming into the phone when she talks. Even if she is in a library, she will still plug her ear. It's a phenomenon. However, her worst habit is to call with a story, or a question, hang up and immediately call back because she forgot something. Because she drives a standard and is anal about not talking on the phone while driving, this duty usually falls to whoever was gutsy enough to call shotgun. She hands over the phone, instructs the passenger to call someone, tells them what to say, and five seconds after the hang-up: "Call back and ask..." I refuse. I refuse. I refuse. For one, I know how annoyed my father is by this. For another, I know how annoyed I am by this.
Recently, she picked up a Palm Centro. Because the Centro has a full keyboard, she can text more easily. So now, instead of a voicemail or a phone call, I get the text message: "Call me when you can." Immediately, I go into panic mode. Something happened to my dog. Something happened to Dad. Something happened to my grandmother. Panic. Sunday morning I was awakened by one of these texts. I immediately called back, and her phone went straight to voicemail. Panic, panic, panic. Three hours later, she returns my call.
"Hi, I got your voicemail!" she said perkily.
"Mom! What's going on? Why did you need me to call you?!" I cry.
There is a long, pregnant pause.
"You know," she says, "I forgot what I needed to talk to you about."
I love my mother.