Today I count pills to fill two small brightly colored plastic containers that are compartmentalized by the days of the week with the hope they will continue to help me manage the health of my life and not stealthily contribute to its demise. Such a fine line exists between “to pill or not to pill.” Pretty maintains – and has maintained for the past ten years – that the little pills will be my downfall. I argue I would probably not be here today without them. As a compromise, I’ve added a few vitamins she is okay with. At 71 years of age, I can almost say I told you so, but I’m not quite ready for the implications surrounding that declaration.
Last week our tall slender pine trees shook while the rains came down ferociously to announce the arrival of a hurricane named Irma that had already left a path of disaster in the Caribbean islands and the states of Florida and Georgia. We received part of her last inland hurrah and although it was relatively mild, it was unsettling enough. We were afraid some of our pine trees would fall on our heads. Luckily, that didn’t happen. The lights stayed on, and we will try not to complain about our modest outside cleanup. Our refrigerator kept our cans of soft drinks cold, and we had an adequate supply of potato chips which was our entire inventory of “unperishables” in the event of a disaster.
Thank goodness for the chilled ginger ale…the taste of ginger ale always reminds me of the little girl growing up in rural southeast Texas where the piney woods became a national forest at the boundary line between Grimes and Montgomery County, the little girl who saved nickels in the summertime to purchase a large bottle of ginger ale to pretend she was drinking champagne like Myrna Loy in The Thin Man movies. Sitting under a chinaberry tree, the only child offered a glass to her black doll named James Marion after her uncle who was not black. When James Marion declined, she drank the bottle by herself – making toast after toast for imaginary weddings, high school graduations, basketball games, the circus, rodeos, any special occasion she could imagine except for baptisms at the First Baptist Church. No one at that church ever drank champagne for any occasion. My mother told me abstinence from adult beverages was necessary because of the potential for causing the ruination of a hapless sinner who saw you have a sip of any kind of alcohol and thereafter was not able to resist temptation but rather succumbed to drink and debauchery.
That same line of reasoning also applied to dancing and using inappropriate slang words that so wanted to slip out while sipping champagne. My mother was a stickler for avoiding the drinking and cussing, but she strayed occasionally during American Bandstand in the afternoons after school when the rock and roll music made her feet betray her convictions. It was one weakness, and I smile now at the memory of her trying to do the Twist when Chubby Checker was a guest on the show. As for fornication, well, that wasn’t even on the table for discussion which was very suspicious given her predilection for walking nude around the house in my teenage years. My prim elementary school teacher mother, my mother who played the piano for the Baptist Church, thought nothing of shedding her clothes in the privacy of her own home when Daddy was there. Go figure…and she had a good one at the time.
I’ve just finished counting the last of the pills for the week. Every pill is in its proper place so that each day they are easily accessible first thing in the morning. I’m not sure how or why I digressed into the story about my mother except that’s how I ramble on in my mind lately. I’m so glad to have the funny memories of her again – I’ve carried the more recent memories of her when she was not in her right mind for too long. She was a mess.
I prefer these memories to the headlines of the day with its hurricanes, natural disasters, bombs from North Korea, throwing acid on American tourists in France, the president addressing the United Nations, and the young Georgia Tech lgbtq student activist shot to death. My mother’s predilection for nudity and my preoccupation with pills pale in comparison to the news of the day and provide a kind of relief from the constant bombardment of the ongoing shattering of our families and communities. At least they do for me.