The Gross National Debt

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Poppin' and hurtin'

In her later years, Ma was still feisty, but deeds could no longer match words.

"Imma swat you," she said in minor annoyance over something somebody did. It was never serious. She was not really angry. It was just her reply to gentle ribbing.

She sometimes delivered, never hard, never mean. If you didn't know she was doing it, you might miss it.

Then as the arthrititis spread, she couldn't even do that much. It literally hurt her. She forgot a few times, early on as she grappled with that disease.


Her hand jerked back at lightning speed as she clutched it to her chest. "De am uh," she'd swear. For being a Damn Yankee, she certainly adapted to the Southern Accent, as proven by her ability to put three syllables into the single-syllable swear word "damn."

Those around her caught on to this immediately. Which made the game even more fun.

"G'head. Hit me. Gonna hurt you worse than it'll hurt me."

Stubbornly, she tried it a few times.

"De am uh!"

Real parents know physical discipline certainly is worse on the parent than the child. But that is a mental and emotional pain. This time, for Ma, it was physical.

Those hands that once wielded a cabbage knife with speed and precision, they couldn't any more. I watched her take a chicken and split the breast perfectly down the middle more than once. She tossed 50-pound cull watermelon with ease.

She once owned a .22 revolver (stolen and sold by someone she thought was a friend) and could keep tight groups. When she still lived in Tallahassee and was followed home one evening, including having said follower beat on the garage door, she decided it was time to rearm. I bought her a .380, compact, low recoil and still deadly.

She moved to Tifton and came to Ashburn for a gun safety class. She could not shoot the gun. The recoil simply hurt too much. She passed the gun back to me.

In her last few years, it took two hands to hold her giant coffee cup.

She often had to wait in a parking lot for a kind stranger to come crank her car. She couldn't turn the key in the ignition. Yeah. That gave me REAL cause for worry.

Cooking was a serious chore if it involved moving anything bulky. When we had family dinners, my clan arrived early to help cook. Whoever was there also helped clean up. She complained about both "I can do that!" and of course, she couldn't. We just ignored her and continued on.

"Ya need to let us do this," we all said when we couldn't ignore her any more.

"I want to do it. I need to do it for myself while I still can," she replied.

That's an attitude most people will agree with.

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