Monday, May 11, 2009

Missed On Mother's Day

Hi everybody…

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Ben. I’m one of Sue’s sons. It’s important to me to say a few words. It’s hard for me to do this, so bear with me. I just want to share with you a few thoughts and memories that stick out in my mind to illustrate Mom’s love of laughter.

Mom’s the kind of person that loves to have a good time. She loved to laugh and strove to make others laugh. Hamming it up with friends and family was as much a passion as it was a pastime for her. Anyone who’s known me for more than 15 minutes knows that it was a trait that she’d passed down to me and my brother, Sam.

Sam and I were little miscreants growing up so we got in trouble a lot. You don’t have to have great math skills to compute the fact that by the time we had both reached the age of 17, we’d spent at least a third of our collective lives being grounded. But, we knew our mother’s weakness! In the process of getting caught doing something stupid, we were sometimes lucky enough to do something goofy and make her laugh before she lowered the boom. Sometimes we got off the hook…sometimes not.

Sometimes we brought our “A” game and were able to reduce her to a jiggling mass of silent laughter, tears running down her face, inability to talk, etc. We knew in our sadistic little hearts that a reprieve was there for the taking. Sometimes we pushed even harder, resulting in a momentary loss of bladder control.

We were completely aware of this chink in her armor, and exploited it to the best of our abilities. Like I said, we were troublemakers, and we were very good at our jobs. We also knew that stuff didn’t fly with Dad. Luckily, she had Dad for backup. Mom and Dad were two completely different animals when it came to disciplinary action. Where she had a soft spot for buffoonery, he had the best poker face in the parenting business. He also had the ability to wait for us to accept our punishments and would relocate himself before even so much as cracking a smile. Yeah, Dad, Mom told me about this. And here we thought we just weren’t funny enough all those years.

One of my most recent memories of my mom’s love of laughter takes place shortly after my wedding. Mom was laid up in the hospital with pneumonia. She was lonely and stir-crazy. She cried a bit in frustration. Sam had called to let me know, so Kate and I left work and drove up to see her. We said “Hi” to her, gave her a hug and stepped out for a cigarette.

I was worried. Praying for Mom had become a daily habit; I’m sure that this was true for most people in her life. This day, thankfully, the results were immediate. We went back to her room and let ‘er rip. I can’t remember if it was Sam or me that had made the first move, but our timing was eerily flawless. Faces were made, voices were mimicked. On cue, the laughter started. Mom’s raspy, thinning voice issued forth a giggle. Like a shark sensing blood, we pursued. She was laughing! The sound of mucous being forcibly ejected from the human lung had never sounded beautiful to me before, or since.

Earlier, I had seen a dispenser for latex examination gloves mounted on the wall. I briefly wondered how badly they’d gouge us for them. Probably cheaper than antibiotics… With a lipstick that Mom had, we drew faces on the gloves. Sam and I pulled them over our heads like a couple of deranged superheroes getting ready for an epic battle. We exhaled sharply, inflating our rubber headwear. Suddenly, Mom was in the company of two of the goofiest looking visitors ever to walk through the hospital doors.

Next, it was her turn. She got the smiley-faced glove on her head, laughing like a crazy woman, inhaled, bared down, and made this horrible, slimy wheeze as the strange alien head sprang to life. She was too busy laughing wildly to realize that an orderly had just entered the room to check up on her. We weren’t sure which, but he either thought he was mistakenly in the wrong ward or had just begun to question his career choice.

Off popped Mom’s glove-head. That silent, jiggling quake of laughter had arrived. The urgent look of panic that we’re familiar with surfaced. Pure adrenaline coursed through her system as she leapt out of her bed, IV rack in tow. She had made it to the bathroom in time…barely.

Our visit wound down quickly. We sat and chatted for quite a while. Just before we had left, the orderly sheepishly poked his way into the room, visibly terrified as to what he’d discover next. He seemed both relieved and disappointed that we were all just sitting and talking. We said our “good byes” and “I love you’s”, glad that Mom was in much better spirits.

This is a wonderful memory that I hope I’ll always carry with me. It’s just one little bizarre chapter of many that we have been fortunate enough to share with our mother.

Many of the people in this room have had a similar episode from time to time with her. I’m glad that I’m standing here right now, sharing this with all of you- her family. That’s what you all are as soon as you walk through these doors, even if there is no blood relation.

So, in conclusion, Mom, we love you. And, I’d just like to thank the big guy up there for giving us a great soul like Mom’s to know and love and laugh with. God, I know that you’re watching and listening. She’s gonna laugh a lot. But, if you guys make her laugh to the point where she goes silent, GET HER TO A BATHROOM QUICKLY!!!