Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Conversations With AC

Since this Sunday is Mother's Day I thought I'd print a story from my first book, "Life is a Buffet So Save Room for Dessert." This story is called "Conversations with AC." 

AC is my mother's name. The initials do not stand for another name. As a matter of fact, they don't stand for anything at all. My poor mother's parents just seemed to randomly select a couple of letters from the alphabet to use as a name for their daughter. My mother can't recall why her parents did this. They never gave any explanation at all. To make this even more strange, my mother has a twin brother named JT. His initials do not stand for anything at all either. However, she is quick to point out that AC and JT do rhyme. She doesn't know if this is significant, but at least it's something. 

Below is a story I wrote about a conversation with my mother. Not all conversations with our mom's are life changing or even enjoyable, but they are most often than not, memorable. Enjoy this Sunday and tell your mom how much you love her, even if your relationship is not always what you'd like it to be. I believe God holds Mothers in high regard and therefore, expects us to honor our mothers and our fathers. I don't always succeed in this expectation. I start off honoring but sometimes it ends in frustration and even some yelling. Even at this age I'm still learning patience and when it's best just not to say anything at all. As you'll see from this story I'm still a work in progress. 

I love my mother very much, but living with her in my home has not always been the easiest task I've been asked to do. But I'm sure raising me wasn't always the easiest situation either. Now the tables are turned and it's my turn to help my mother through the rest of her life. She is now 87 years old. She is as healthy as a horse with a few aches and pains here and there. She is not always the most pleasant person to deal with, but then I have my days and my quirks as well. Perhaps you see yourself and your mother in this story. 

Mom, or AC as she’s known to others, came from a large family and lived on a farm in North Carolina during the Depression. When she was just a teenager, she suffered a near-fatal heart attack from some medication she had been given to slow down her naturally fast heart. The attack kept her in bed for almost two years. She even had to learn to walk all over again. Her daddy, Charlie, vowed that if she lived, he would never lay a hand on her to whip her or make her do anything she didn’t want to do. Consequently, my mother was spoiled rotten by her father, who loyally kept his promise. While her siblings were out working in the tobacco and cottonfiields, she would complain of being too hot or too tired, and immediately she would be relieved of her chores and sent back to the house. This didn’t go over well with her brothers and sisters,but it worked over and over again none the less. 

I tell you my mother’s background because it still plays a part in her life. She moved in with Robbie Lee and myself years ago, after our father died, and I quickly learned she still lived under the same vows her father had made many years ago. She’s very healthy for her age and is capable of doing many things. She often doesn’t choose to take the initiative to do them, however. For example, when Robbie Lee and I would arrive home late from work some nights, our conversations would go something like this. 

“I’m so glad you’re both finally home. I’m about to starve to death.” 

“Mom, why didn’t you cook something?” 

“I didn’t know you wanted me to cook.” 

“Well, you could see we weren’t home from work yet. Why didn’t you just start something yourself?” 

“How was I supposed to know what you wanted to eat? I can’t just walk in the kitchen and start cooking without knowing what you want me to fix.” 

“Why not? You cooked for us for years when we were growing up. Did you suddenly forget how to put a meal together?” 

“Yeah, but I was out planting daffneydills all day today, and I just didn’t think about it.”

“They’re called daffodils, Mom, not daffneydils, and now what are we supposed to do? It’s too late for me to start cooking, and you know nobody wants to eat what Robbie Lee fixes.” 

“Well, why didn’t you call me and tell me to fix supper?” 

“Because I didn’t know I was going to get stuck in traffic and be this late, and besides, why do I have to call you? Why can’t you just look at the time and decide to start supper on your own?” 

“Ya’ll just expect me to walk in that kitchen and pull something out of thin air and fix it?” 

“Thin air? There’s a freezer full of food in there. You just select something and cook it.” 

“But what if it’s not what you wanted? Then you’d be mad when you got home.” 

“I’d eat anything you fix. We love your cooking, Mom.” 

“Well, you didn’t eat those brains and eggs I fixed the other night.” 

“Nobody eats brains and eggs! I mean just fix something normal.” 

“You see, that’s what I mean. If I fixed brains and eggs you’d have fussed, and you fuss if I don’t fix something. I see’d and know’d it’d be this way.” 

“Be what way, Mom?” 

“I’ve been outside planting daffneydils all day and I’m just as tired as you are, but now you’re fussing at me for not fixing supper.” 

“The yard is full of daffneydils, I mean daffodils, right now. What we need is supper, not flowers.” 

“I can’t do anything right around here. But don’t worry. Next year I’ll probably be dead and you won’t have to worry about me.” 

“Oh no, not the ‘I’ll probably be dead’ speech.” 

“You want to get fried chicken from Hardee’s?” asks Robbie Lee, who thinks fried chicken is the solution to all of life’s problems. 

“We might as well, ’cause I’m not cooking at this hour,” I announce to nobody in particular. 

So we change clothes and run up to Hardee’s and bring back fried chicken, French fries, and coleslaw. 

“Mom, come on. Let’s eat before it gets cold!” I yell from the kitchen. 

“I’m not eating,” AC replies. 

“What? Why not? I thought you were hungry.” 

“I’m not hungry. I’m just gonna lie on the couch and read my book.” 

“Fine, we’ll just eat without you,” I reply.

“Go ahead. Tomorrow I’ll probably be dead anyway, so it don’t make no difference whether I eat today or not.” 

Now you have to understand that Mom has been dying for as long as I can remember. She’s as healthy as a horse, but she has been planning her funeral for nigh on fifty year snow. She prefaces everything with, “If I’m not dead,”or “I’ll probably be dead,” or “I feel like I’m dead.”This is supposed to make Robbie Lee and me feel guilty. Sometimes it works. 

(Several hours later) 

“Here, Mom. We saved you a plate. Why don’t you eat something? You don’t want to get sick and die.” 

“Didn’t you bring me no ice tea? You know I like ice tea with my chicken. Didn’t you get biscuits with this? Did you eat them all? You know how I like biscuits with my chicken. It ain’t fit to eat ‘les there’s biscuits on the plate.” 

And so it goes. 

Mom loves flowers. She can carry on a conversation for days just about flowers. She eats, drinks, and sleeps flowers. Our yard is the envy of the neighborhood. She sometimes stands on the sidewalk in front of our house, pretending to sweep, just to be present to accept any compliments that might be paid by passing pedestrians. On Saturdays, Mom is usually dressed and waiting with her pocketbook on her arm and standing by the front door. 

“What do ya’ll have planned today?” AC asks. 

“I thought I’d go up to the mall to see if I can find me something decent to wear. "Why?” I ask already knowing the answer. 

“Because I need to go and buy some peat moss for my flower beds. I also want to see if they have any pansies on sale.” 

“Well, we’ll go there after we go to the mall.” 

“If we go later, all of the good peat moss will be gone.” 

“Mom, they always have peat moss. Besides, didn’t we buy twenty bags last weekend?” 

“I used it all up. Lordy, it takes a lot of peat moss to keep a garden looking like it should. You can’t just grow flowers without having plenty of peat moss on hand. I’ve done without it all week.” 

“Mom, we live in a townhouse. How many bags of peat moss do you need?” 

“I see’d and know’d it’d be this way if I asked to go to the nursery. I’ll probably…”

“I know, you’ll probably be dead next year and we won’t have to buy any 
more peat moss. But you see, that’s where you’re wrong. We’re going to bury you in peat moss. Piles and piles of it."

“PollyD,  just take her to the nursery for the peat moss so we can have some 
peace today. Otherwise we’ll be listening to her go on all day long,” suggests Robbie Lee. “But let’s stop and get some fried chicken on the way.” 

“Yeah, that sounds good,” agrees AC. 

And that’s how our Saturdays end up. No matter what season it is, we wind up at a nursery looking at flowers, peat moss, mulch, dirt, or bulbs for the next season. In between visits to the nursery, Mom reads to us all the newspaper ads that have anything to do with growing things. Over dinner she recites all the different types of flowers growing in our yard while I’m struggling to hear the evening news. Once a month she gets a letter that announces who won the yard of the month in the neighborhood. We then have to drive Mom over to see how in the world they could have possibly won. Unfortunately, Mom has never won this award. She says it’s because we live in a townhouse and do not have a proper size yard. 

Mom is also famous for singing around the house. I like it because it makes me feel at home. Mom has been singing around the house for as long as I can remember. She very seldom sings the same song for very long. She jumps from song to song; sometimes right in the middle of a song she’ll switch to a whole other tune. Mostly she sings hymns, but sometimes she throws a country tune in there, which can sound kind of strange. Once when I was sitting in the living room and she was singing away in the kitchen, I thought I heard her singing, “Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me. Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone.” I had to stop and think for a minute.“ That’s not quite right, is it?” Mom just continued singing, switching back and forth between the two songs, never missing a beat. 

Mom doesn’t have a lot of interests outside of flowers, country music, and romance novels. When she’s on the couch in the evening, she has a romance novel in her hands. The whole house could burn down around her, and she wouldn’t even blink. I have come and gone from the house without seeing her move a muscle for hours, other than to turn the pages of her book. Once while she was reading, Maggie, our sheepdog, ate the entire contents of a huge Easter basket close by. Pots have boiled over, meat has burned, and biscuits have cooked beyond recognition while AC has read her romance novels. Even though she is totally oblivious to everything around her while she’s reading, she’ll finally put the book down after hours have passed and say, “You know, ya’ll hardly ever talk to me.” Even though I could have accidentally amputated my leg and hopped on one foot around her on the couch, she’d never notice. But now she wants to know why we never talk to her.”

“OK, let’s talk,” I say. 

Robbie Lee just moans in the background. 

“Did you know that George Clooney didn’t like making Batman?” AC asks. 

“No, I didn’t.” 

“He said he was so tired when he got home from filming that he didn’t have the energy to do anything else.” 


“That’s how I feel sometimes.” 


“Sometimes I feel like I’ll be dead before morning.” 


“Did you know that when I die I want a closed coffin?” 


“I don’t want people parading by me criticizing my hair, and how I look before they stuff me away in the ground.” 

“Mom, people like to pay their last respects. Can’t we talk about something else?”

“Did you know Wal-Mart has daffneydils on sale for $1.99 a six-pack? Is that a good price?”

“I don’t know.” 

“Why don’t you?” 

“I just don’t. That’s all. I have no idea what daffneydils, I mean daffodils, should cost.”

“I want to get some this weekend if they look decent.” 


Robbie Lee moans some more. 

“What would happen if the astronauts went to the moon when it was only a half-moon?” 


“What if they started to land and it was only half a moon?” 

This question I don’t even try to answer. I just give her one of my infamous blank stares.

“Did you like George Clooney’s hair in his last movie?” 

“I don’t know.” 

“I thought it looked terrible. Didn’t you, Robbie Lee?” 

More groans. 

“I think he looks better with it longer. Don’t you?” 


And so the conversation goes until Robbie Lee and I can’t take any more and go to bed. Mom, picking up her romance novel, heads off to bed with her grumpy fifteen-year old white dog, Jasper. As she closes the door to her room I have to pause and listen as she cheerfully sings to her dog, “Jasper the Jasper. I love you, Jasper. Jasper, Jasper. I love you.” Shaking my head, I mumble to myself, “Good God,” and turn off the lights.

“Being Strengthened With All Power According To 
His Glorious Might 
So That You May Have Great Endurance And 

Sometimes patience and endurance are very hard to muster up. It’s the little things in life that can cause us to blow our tops or reduce us to mere grunts and groans. Oh, we can handle the big deals in life without wincing, but leave us alone in a room with our mothers, and we twist ourselves in to tight little knots we can’t undo. We get wound so tight that we spin out of control like a tornado destroying everything in our path, or we shrink back into the ground like a withered plant. 

Sometimes conversations with my mother can do that to me. I find myself able to handle most things in life, but I stumble through the simplest talks with her.It takes a great deal of patience on my part, along with great endurance. After all, she’s elderly, and we have different interests. 

I vow not to lose my patience, but over and over again I find myself failing. Every morning I pray, “Lord, please give me the patience I need; the patience my mother had with me while she managed to run a home with four children underfoot.” I think of the patience she had while she shopped with me pulling on her hand and screaming at the top of my lungs. I remember the endurance she displayed so bravely while she waited for us to grow from runny-nosed children into impatient adults. Then every night I repent because I didn’t quite meet my goal that day. 

No matter what our test may be, God can provide the strength, patience, and endurance we need to deal with all of life’s experiences, whether big or small.

Excerpt from "Life is a Buffet So Save Room for Dessert" Copyright © 2005 by Polly D. Boyette "All Rights Reserved"

Happy Mother's Day!

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