So, people tend to make their loved ones into saints after they pass, and I’m hoping my son does just that…someday. But you know, we don’t get ‘better’ after we die…we’re the same flawed, perfectly imperfect person we always were. And spinning new tales about acts the person performed that would rival changing water into wine is probably not a fair thing to do. However, having to chase Edward down the street in the snow…while wearing a nightie and crocs…screaming at the top of my lungs…and only slipping and falling twice before grabbing the little shit is pretty durn close. 🙄
Anyhoot, ma had flaws. Yes she was amazing and kind and sweet…but…she was also a horrible loser, snarky, opinionated, and stubborn as a mule. On a side note, we were talking about our less than perfect traits one day and I said “Ma…what are mine?” And she looked at me and said “I can’t think of any!” So, ma is a bit of a liar too! In fact, she also announced that I was the best singer in the family at a Christmas dinner a couple of years ago. This made my oldest nephew literally choke on his candied pecan, and I thought performing the Heimlich maneuver was going to be necessary. However, calling me the ‘best singer’ in the family is akin to saying I sound less like crap than everyone else. 🤔
When my great-nephew introduced his adorbs girlfriend to ma, he said this: “Be careful if you play a game with Grandma…she doesn’t like to lose.” From the mouth of babes. I remember when ma, pop, my grandparents and aunt were playing Tripoly one Christmas at grandpa’s kitchen table. My family LOVES playing card games and when there’s pennies involved, it becomes quite intense. Ma had a winning hand: a Jack, Queen, King AND Ace of hearts. This would have let her win a bunch of small pots of pennies (for a grand total of $.79 – it was to be a down payment on a new car 🙄) on the board and the look in her eyes terrified me. As everyone else was playing their turn, the daggers were being aimed and ma was literally shaking. My grandpa was sitting next to ma and he played his LAST card and won the pots! Ma got nothing and her cards were worthless. I have NEVER seen such a horrifying look on a face in my life. Never. And, if memory serves, she was mad at gramps for years. When ma would lose, her eyes would get squinty, her face red, and her mouth would materialize into a perfect straight line (me and Terri have perfected this look😐). However, the best part about her losing was always asking her if she was mad. “Ma…are you mad that I won and you…basically…lost?” “NO, Kristi. I am not mad.” Ooooookkkkkaaaaayyyyy!
When I went to my weekly Sunday lunch, we’d always play a game called Five Crowns. There’s no money (i.e. pennies) involved…just bragging rights. Ma kept score (I always double-checked it😏) and I usually won 80% of the time. Don’t be too impressed, this has very little to do with skill…it’s basically the luck of the deal. I usually left ma’s with her having that “look” and me skedaddling as fast as I could. Once ma won and just to be a snot I said, in my most serious voice possible, “Ma…I let you win.” Holy crap! I have never seen her face redden as fast as it did…even when my 17th birthday party at the house turned into an alcoholic free for all. She said: “You. Did. Not. That was all me.” Trust me, I never said it again.
And snarky? Hmmmm…how do I put this delicately and in a way that honors ma’s memory and sheds a positive light on her: she was a snarky little shit. And the fun part about her snarkiness was the way she’d say things: “Well, Kristi…we’re just a bit bitchy today, aren’t we?” Translation: “Well, Kristi…if you don’t stop bitching about everything going on and ragging on my cooking and predicting yet another card win, I will throw you out on your ear.” You get my drift.😳
In fact, Terri and I laugh over what ma said to us when she was in the hospital. She was getting to the point where she couldn’t speak so anything she said was special. Meaningful. Insightful. Something to be remembered and treasured. So I was sitting in the recliner (that fake leather recliner that’s in every hospital room in the country and that only 2 people on the face of earth find comfortable), holding her hand, and working on some class stuff on my iPad. Her fingers squeezed mine and I looked over at her and she leaned her head towards me. “Ma…what do you need? Are you in pain?” “Kristi. Don’t ever dye your hair that color again.” Got it.
And then Terri got her own last snark. My sister is a go-getter, someone who never procrastinates, and is more organized than Martha Stewart has ever been. She took care of all the paper work and other issues (insurance, billing, etc.) at the hospital and did so splendidly. So one day Terri was with her and ma opened her eyes and looked at her. She said: “Terri, I need you to do something for me.” “I’ll do whatever you need, mom.” “Wow. You’re easy to get along with now, aren’tcha?” 😐
Stubborn? Well…she was actually a fucking (sorry, ma🙄 – old habits are hard to break ) mule. By the way, if Terri is reading this right now, she’s nodding so hard that she will have a pulled tendon in her neck. Ma’s favorite phrases in terms of her stance in things are: “No.” “You’re wrong” “I’m right” “We’ll just see about that.” And my personal favorite (which includes some snarkiness…a double-header): “Whatever you say…you’re the one that’s always right.” Sheesh. I guess stubbornness is tied to being opiniated as well…which I actually see as a plus too. Ma would take a stance and be loyal to it.
But there was a downside as well; like insisting the lane she swooped over to one day when we were out running errands was a turn lane…which it wasn’t and which is what I told her. (She only drove on this road for 60 years). Her response to me getting whiplash as she plowed her way down the street: “They must have changed it.” Yes, ma. Overnight some elves re-did the entire street with newly painted arrows that showed everyone in town what turn lane you remembered. Hmmmmm. 🤔
So ma was flawed. Just like we all are. And honestly, I like remembering this along with my memories of her love and hugs and support and approval and everything else she gave to me and was to me. She was human. And she was fantastic.
And O? I’m going to start writing down my flaws for the eulogy you’ll say for me. When I think of some, I’ll let you know.
Love you ma. Love you more.