I cannot wrap my brain around the fact that my Mom left us seven years ago tomorrow. Seven years. Jesus. That’s a long time.
Let me clarify what I mean. When Mom left us, she died. She didn’t skip town.
But when she was alive she loved the number seven and quite frankly that is probably why I’m sitting here writing something. Playing on seven. She loved it. Probably more than anyone I’ve ever known anyone to love a number.
So, one day, I asked her. “Why seven? ”
She always said it was because she had seven kids.
“Oh. OK. Makes sense.” Then I realize a small detail. She didn’t have seven children. She had nine children! Nine, people. Nine.
“Well, you know, lovey … “ she would say.
No. No, I don’t know. How does a mother get that wrong?
I mean, she had nine different human type creatures make their way through her vagina or via a cesarean section.
How do you lose count of the number of humans evacuating from your vajayjay? Can you lose count of the number of humans evacuating said vajayjay? I wonder how pissed she’d be with me if she were alive and read this, and my use of the word vajayjay in the context I have … particularly it being hers. She’s probably kick me in the wonkydoodle.
But, nevertheless, seven was her number. Roulette. Daily Doubles. Kids. Any form of gambling that may have been combined with the number seven, and Mom was on it.
Now, at the risk of being a complete butthead I will concede – and I say this in her defense – there were two of her nine children that she lost as babies. That may have accounted for the whole seven instead of nine business. If that’s why, then fine. I get it. I’m not sure I like it though. I mean. She’s completely discounting 22% of her children. She is. But if she lost two, then she lost two. It is what it is. That said I do feel I should clarify here, too, so there’s no confusion. When I say she lost two babies they didn’t vanish or get mislaid. They, too, died. Granted, she may not be able to know the difference between seven and nine but for heaven’s sake, she wasn’t irresponsible. Give her some credit, will ya?
And besides. I’M THE NINTH KID!
Furthermore, don’t try and convince me that I, as the ninth child, wasn’t anything but an oops. After Greg and John were born as premature kiddos her doctor told her NO MORE KIDS!
Well, the calendar changes by four years, add a bottle of Dubonet and a little sweet talking from Ray and voila … Bob’s your uncle, here comes number nine.
But, seven kids or nine, it didn’t matter because she loved us all and we laughed together, a ton.
That’s what I am thinking about most this year as the anniversary of her death approaches. The movies we watched and laughed at together.
Blazing Saddles had the woman in stitches. Me too.
Jim: Why Rhett! How many times have I told you to wash up after a weekly cross-burning? See, it’s coming off.
Bart: And now, for my next impression… Jesse Owens!
Every joke in Airplane had her number. Mine too.
Rumack: I won’t deceive you, Mr. Striker. We’re running out of time.
Ted Striker: Surely there must be something you can do.
Rumack: I’m doing everything I can… and stop calling me Shirley!
Thirty minutes into Airplane I would see her wiping tears from her eyes, she’s laughing so hard.
Lest I forget our adoration for the incompetence of Lt. Frank Drebin in Naked Gun, too:
Mayor: Drebin, I don’t want any more trouble like you had last year on the southside. Understand? That’s my policy.
Frank: Yes. Well, when I see 5 weirdos dressed in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of the park in full view of 100 people, I shoot the bastards. That’s my policy.
Mayor: That was a Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar, you moron! You killed 5 actors! Good ones!
We loved that line. I shoot the bastards. That’s my policy.
That was her humor. That was/is my humor. I miss that about her the most. Sitting at the kitchen table with her and dad, just talking, just laughing. Quoting movies. Making some sort of joke we may hesitate to make outside the confines of our home. We all have those. But when she laughed and joked she did it as well as anyone I have ever known. Never crass or blue. Just silliness and great timing.
That leads me to the one movie that I always associate with her. Support Your Local Sheriff. That was our movie. James Garner, Harry Morgan, Walter Brennan, Joan Hackett, Jack Elam and others. It is the story of a gunslinger (Garner) who comes riding through some fictional town in the old west with the idea of doing a little prospecting before he makes his way to Australia. However, with the prices of room and board as outrageous as they are in this town he needed work and took that work as sheriff.
It was the first movie I can remember which I studied the lines and the jokes. Made Mom laugh every time, without fail. Every time I made her laugh, I loved life a little more. So I made it a point to remember many of the lines.
Pa Danby: Now I’m gonna take a little trip tomorrow and I want you two to behave yourselves while I’m gone. I don’t want nobody to make no martyr out of this here sheriff.
Tom Danby: What’s a martyr?
Pa Danby: Oh, I’m sorry. They didn’t use words like that in the third grade, did they?
Tom Danby: Well, how would I know? I didn’t get that far.
Then there was …
Joe Danby: You expect me to sit here in this lousy cell on that…
[notices the red paint drippings on the floor]
Joe Danby: What is that red stuff all over the floor there?
Jason McCullough: Oh, uh…
[waves his boot over the paint]
Jason McCullough: …that’s the poor fella that crossed the line earlier today.
She LOVED that scene. Loved it.
But the one I’d fire at her, the one whose punchline she would finish before I’d get a chance was this:
Mayor Ollie Perkins: I wanted you to meet my daughter, Sheriff. She’s a good cook, a mighty fine looking girl. Takes after her dear, departed mother.
Jason McCullough: Mother died, huh?
Mayor Ollie Perkins: Nope, she just departed.
It is in that spirit I make the “she lost two – er, uh, died not misplaced” jokes. I’m certain she would have laughed. She would have shook her head with a genuine degree of disgust, but she’d laugh. It’s the laugh I always wanted.
Sigh. Where does the time go? How has it been seven years? It feels like yesterday. It feels like a lifetime ago. I guess it really does feel like seven years. That’s a good piece of time.
I do find some consolation in this though. If there is a Heaven – and I believe there is – she could very well be laughing right now while drinking her Doubonet, perhaps in the company of Leslie Nielsen, Gene Wilder or James Garner. If she is, I do hope she is laughing.
I love you ole girl. I miss you more than I’ll ever be able to say. I am so glad I had 43 years with you and I love and miss our times laughing together. It is my prayer you have been, and will continue to forever, rest in peace. Better yet, I hope you are laughing joyfully through the rest of eternity. You deserve to.