Saturday, November 5, 2011

Things My Mother Told Me

Many, many years ago when science and schooling was not for everyone Mothers had their own version of the scientific approach that would cure you or at least stop you from destroying yourself. Now I appreciate the fact that today's Mother or Father for that matter might scoff at some of the remedies offered by the Moms of my generation or before but in some cases they still hold up as cures or stoppage of compulsive, destructive behavior. Here a few I remember and I better commit them to paper before I forget.

Feed a cold and starve a fever. So when I got a cold or a chill my Mom would make such things as Egg Nogs, soup and plenty of bread. Bread was considered a staple of life back in the day. Of course if I had a fever then the fluids, primarily water and coco, would be fed into me. Now if I had a cold and fever at the same time she just fed me and had me wash it down with plenty of water.

I really liked butter. One day my Mom found me eating butter with a spoon. She instinctively felt this was wrong so she told me that if I continued doing that I'd get the mumps. I reminded her that I already had the mumps but she said that didn't matter if I continued to eat butter like that.

I really liked sugar. One day she caught me eating a tablespoon of sugar and she told me if I continued to eat sugar like that worms would enter my mouth and eat holes in my teeth and travel to my brain. Naturally I stopped eating sugar by the spoonful.

One day as my Mother was kneading dough for some pie she caught me eating the raw dough. She told me if I ate raw dough it would grow in my stomach into a big ball of dough and block my bowels causing great pain until it was corrected. You got it right, I stopped eating raw dough.

When she was making meat balls one day she saw me eating pieces of raw chop meat. She told me that could lead to tape worms that could grow to great lengths in my stomach. I stopped purloining pieces of raw chop meat after that. Much later I paid a pretty price for Steak tartare in a pricey French restaurant. However today many warn against eating raw meat. I guess Mom knew what she was talking about.

Now this may be classified as an old wives tale and I may have heard this from a Nun, Priest or maybe Mom. If you don't leave that thing alone it'll fall off, you'll have hair on the palms of your hands and you'll go blind. They were all wrong.

The Stork brought you. This was hard for me to take Mom's word on this, sort of like Santa Claus, they both had to come in through the chimney and we only had a fake fireplace. When I was about twelve or so my Mom asked me one day if she had to explain about the Stork or did I know already. I let her know I knew about the Stork AND Santa Claus. She looked relieved that we didn't have to explore this conversation any further.

I used to complain about going to bed before the rest of the family since I was convinced there was a green monster under my bed. Mom kept saying there wasn't but how could I believe a woman who kept threatening that the Boogie Man was going to get me if I wasn't a good boy.

The biggest threat Mom could give me was that she was going to tell my Father. My Father was a gentle man who hit me only once when I was about four and while I never consciously remembered it, it must have stuck in my sub-conscious since all he ever had to do was look at me in that certain way and I'd stop doing whatever I was doing or saying. But as I got older it became obvious to me that his idea of a grown man and my Mother's were two different things. One weekday night I arrived home around three-thirty in the morning. As I opened the door my Mom met me, all five foot one of her and she was steaming, and I was a little drunk. She gave me a few slaps and threatened that when we got upstairs "Your Father would be waiting and he was steaming since he had to get up in a few hours.". As I ascended the stairs with her banging me in the back threatening what my Father was going to do to me and we reach the second landing I could hear a noise that sounded like snoring. You got it right my Father was in a deep sleep and the next day when we saw each other he never brought it up. However my Mother, when he was out of ear shot, reiterated the threat that my Father was ready to kill me. After that I gave my Mother the respect of listening to the threat but unless I saw "that look" from my Father I continued doing whatever I wanted much to Mom's regret.

There are many more things Mom told me that worked for the good such as "You should marry that girl even though she's Puerto Rican and not Italian", "Give it some thought before you give up the Trumpet, you may regret it if you do.", "Another child? Are you crazy? Are you trying to kill her?", "A half a loaf is better than none", spoken like a true Great Depression survivor. She really was a great Mom, always made sure we had on clean underwear and we had plenty to eat and a clean house and lots of laughs. She really enjoyed laughing. She is missed even if some of her sayings were outlandish.

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