My mother turned seventy-three-years-old yesterday. I called her to wish her a happy birthday just after I had called Holland on her cell phone to remind her to call Mammy and do the same. The thing is Holland beat me to it. She called Mama before I had the chance and when Mama asked her, “Did your mother tell you to call?” Holland, who later claimed she didn’t want Mammy to know she had forgotten her birthday said, “Oh, no- I reminded Mom, not the other way around!” So of course when I called Mama minutes later I got sassed that my daughter had to remind me of my own mother’s birthday! To make matters worse Mama asked me what I had gotten her for a gift. I didn’t expect that question, and in a panic I could not think of my own little white lie so had to admit I hadn’t gotten her a thing. I could have said, “You’ll have to wait and see.” or “A basket of goodies.” or even “A gift certificate.” But I crumbled and told the truth.
“Well, go dig something up and send it to me.” she said.
Go dig something up? What do you suppose that means? I think it means, “Well since I’m not important enough in your life for you to actually go to a store and buy me something nice and thoughtful, just go out back and dig up a rock and send that to me instead.” And I would, just as a joke, but Mama might use the rock as a paperweight on that desk of hers for all the world to see and my guilt would be eternal.
Anyway, Thank God Mama was late for Bible study and couldn’t talk for long ... I felt bad after just two minutes on the phone with her, imagine if she’d wanted to chat for awhile!
We did talk for a minute about age and getting old and the conversation came around to Aunt Sarah being ninety-four and how well she is. She has some pain from arthritis, I think, but is in good health otherwise and lives on her own in the cutest little apartment in Brunswick. When I visited with Aunt Sarah this summer I remarked that I thought she would live to be One-hundred. She got huffy and said, “Don’t you dare wish that on me!”
I guess I don’t do well with old ladies ... I’m always saying the wrong thing.
Whenever my mother complains that everyone but her has heard from me I say, “Get E-Mail, Mother!”
She says, “I’m too old to learn that stuff.”
To which I reply, “Ninety-four-year-old Aunt Sarah has E-Mail and even knows how to attach files and sends me pictures of her great-grandson!” Not much Mama can say about that, being shamefully cyberly outdone by her aunt. The image of Aunt Sarah in front of her computer forwarding jokes to me makes me smile more than any joke she sends.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I give Thanks to God for many things, including a full pantry, a full belly, and a full oil tank, but mostly I give Thanks to God for a life full of other lives. Our lives are a gift. So are the lives of all those around us, especially I think, the old lady lives: Mama’s life, Aunt Sarah’s life, and the lives of old ladies that are now gone- like my grandmother, Faye. Her life remains a gift to me reopened every time I think of her.
I hope your Thanksgiving leaves you full, full of Thanksgiving for life.
L.E. Hughes is a columnist, writer and owner of Diamond Corner B&B in Stratton, Maine. She welcomes your thoughts and comments: firstname.lastname@example.org. © November 2005 Lew-Ellyn Hughes. All Rights Reserved and Retained by the Author