Here is one of my favorite family stories, one that always brings a smile to my face and a warm feeling in my heart for my mother.
S: Around 1995, when both my parents were still alive, my sisters, my brother and I, each took a day when we would drop in on them and do whatever they needed. My dad had Alzheimer’s disease and Mom was his sole caregiver and we were her support system. Many times just having another adult to talk to was all she needed. My mom was an intelligent, deeply spiritual woman who never ceased to surprise me.
On one particular Thursday – Thursday was my day to visit Mom and Dad – I decided I’d tackle her bedroom, maybe get some of the clothes put away and hung up and make a dent in the stack of junk mail piled on her dresser. Mom was never Betty Homemaker and she could not bring herself to throw away anything until she had read it, which could possibly be never.
I started by picking up the mail but put it down immediately to inspect the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter plastic margarine bowl that was hidden beneath the numerous solicitations for money to save whales and tortured puppies in the Philippines. I retrieved the bowl and there on the lid was a strip of adhesive tape inscribed with the letters S U G A R, in my mother’s handwriting.
“Mom, what is a bowl of sugar doing in the bedroom?” I asked as I walked to the kitchen where she was making coffee. I stopped in the doorway still waiting fore her reply. I opened the lid and looked inside at the brown crumbly substance. “Raw sugar,” I thought. Being a person who wants to engage all her senses when encountering something new, I stuck my index finger in my mouth, wetting it thoroughly and then dipped it deep into the bowl.
Just then Mom turned from the sink and answered my question. “That’s Sugar.” “Yeah, I know it’s sugar, but what kind and why was it in the bedroom?” I said as I pulled my grainy appendage out and poised it in front of my waiting tongue.
“No, Sugar the dog. That’s Sugar the dog.” She replied, a little concerned that I was ready to eat some of the remains of her dearly departed obese beagle who had succumbed to a myriad of diseases such as Diabetes, blindness, heart trouble and cancer five years prior.
“Aghhhhh!” I screeched as the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter bowl jerked spasmodically, sending granules of Sugar the dog, all over my hands and forearm and the floor. I hurriedly sat the container of dog ashes on the table and rushed to the sink to cleanse myself of the now fowl substance, thanking the Gods of all that is good and holy for not allowing me to taste the dog’s ashes.
When I regained my composure, I calmly asked Mom “Why the margarine bowl?” “Well, It cost $10 for an urn.” “Oh”. Coming from my mother that was all the explanation I needed.