Category Archives: Mama

We Are NOT That Broke Yet!

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Friends don't let friends wipe with dollar store toilet paper.

Friends don’t let friends wipe with dollar store toilet paper.

I went down to check on Mama recently. She’s been suffering for a good while now with C.O.P.D. and if God is not merciful to her, it will eventually take her from me. I try to keep watch over her and I’m thankful for the hospice organization and my wonderful step-dad for helping me. Now before you go getting bummed out, this post is only tangentially connected to Mama’s health.

Anyway, while I was at Mama’s the salad from the night before and the large bowl of Raisin Bran from earlier in the morning both decided to end their tour of my colon. I told Mama I had to go see a man about a dog then grabbed my phone to have something to pass the time because I figured this might take a bit. The phone was my undoing because I was so focused on pulling up Angry Birds I forgot to check the toilet paper. Big mistake. Now you’re probably thinking the roll was empty, leaving me stranded. Actually, that would have been a better scenario than the one confronting me as I finished my lengthy constitutional because had the roll been empty I could have called Mama from the bathroom and asked her to bring me some paper towels using her scooter chair. No, the holder was full. Unfortunately, it was full of the worst substance known to man.

Dollar store toilet paper!

Now long time readers know I am a restroom connoisseur. Were I to become wealthy enough to build my dream home, I already have the bathroom completely planned out. Budge can design everything else. My exquisite taste in all things water closet related extends to toilet paper as well. At home, having a septic tank keeps me anchored to the pedestrian but adequate Scott Tissue, but I do have a couple of rolls of White Cloud Ultra Soft stashed away for those “occasions” when my stomach has risen up in rebellion and constant use of the facilities begs for something more tender than Scott 500 grit special. When the economy and civilization collapse, it won’t be lack of food, water, or power that does me in; it will be the dearth of bathroom facilities and the end of manufactured toilet paper.

Wonderful but frivolous luxury.

Wonderful but frivolous luxury.

Sadly, the fake dollar store toilet paper ended up in Mama’s bathroom because her illness necessitated turning the shopping over to my step-dad. Now I won’t lie. Money is very tight at our two households. Budge and I have been helping Mama pay her bills for over a year now. Rob, my step-dad, knows this so he’s always trying to cut corners and save wherever he can, which is perfectly reasonable since we are more or less broke. However, as bad as it may be, we are NOT dollar-store-toilet-paper-level broke yet. We can’t necessarily afford luxury like Charmin or Quilted Northern, but we can certainly afford some Scott Tissue. Granted, Scotts isn’t the softest on one’s bottom but at least it is absorbent enough to do the job while being strong enough to not have to wrap a hand in half a roll just to keep the wiping fingers from bursting through mid-stroke.

I don’t know what dollar store toilet paper is made of. Based on its absorbancy, I would guess wax paper, but wax paper is many orders of magnitude stronger than dollar store TP, and that’s where this stuff really starts to wreak. Apparently, dollar store TP is woven from unicorn farts, angel burps, or something else comparably rare and insubstantial. As a general rule, I shouldn’t be able to read a newspaper through a ply of decent TP, but laying a sheet of dollar store rubbish on the funny pages doesn’t even dull the colors much. At the risk of sounding a bit gross, if this stuff is all you’ve got, you’re better off just bare-handing it and cutting out the middle man, so to speak. Dollar store TP is really that bad.

The bare-a$$ed minimum acceptable TP. (see what I did there?)

The bare-a$$ed minimum acceptable TP. (see what I did there?)

To make matters worse, this  “paper,” which is so useless in its intended hygienic function because of its lack of strength and absorbancy in the hand turns into some sort of uber-wadded concrete blob once you drop it in the toilet. It might not take poop off a goose, but two or three handfuls of this stuff will clog up a toilet tighter than the Chihuahua that ate a whole cheese and peanut butter sandwich. Plunging only makes the stuff multiply like some sort of soggy, stinky Hydra. Dollar store TP truly is a mystery substance.

In any event I managed to finish up and get myself reasonably ready to reenter the world so I went in to Mama and begged her to have Rob stop buying dollar store TP. She reiterated what I already knew — he was just trying to save us money. My reply was simple and heartfelt. Buy REAL toilet paper and I’ll give up cable and internet or cut us down to one car to make up the difference. It’s like I told Mama and I’m saying it again to y’all, I’m a simple man. I don’t have many needs. All I ask for to make me happy is decent A/C in the summertime to keep my fat butt cool and some good quality TP to keep the same fat butt clean. Is that too much to ask? When the day comes we can’t afford at LEAST some Scott Tissue, it’ll be time for me to start paying close attention to Breaking Bad reruns.

Love y’all! Keep those feet clean . . . and all the other parts as well!

The Holy Grail of TP! It has THREE PLYS and Shea Butter!!!!

The Holy Grail of TP! It has THREE PLYS and Shea Butter!!!!

Happy Birthday #60, Mama!

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Me and Mama when I was in 5th Grade.

Me and Mama when I was in 5th Grade.

Today has been my beloved Mama’s sixtieth birthday. She completed her sixth decade in spite of fighting a terrible battle with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD that saw her hospitalized for two weeks with two bouts that left her very near death’s door. More than once, I thought I was going to lose her.

Anyone who has known me more than an hour will know how much Mama means to me. She has been the one guiding star and constant throughout my life. Some people take being called a “mama’s boy” as an insult, but I’ve worn it as a badge of pride all my days.

One facet of our relationship that’s made our bond so strong is for many years at many times, we were all each other had. Mama and Daddy separated when I was five and finalized the divorce when I was eight. Today, people don’t think much about divorces but at that time (1977) in such a small town, I was the only one of my friends who entered kindergarten with divorced parents. Of course, by the time we graduated high school, several of my friends joined me on the Split Up Family Express, and I found out later I’d gone to school with other divorced kids, but I didn’t know any of them as friends so it wasn’t a great help to me.

The divorce was hard — way hard — on Mama. People didn’t know nearly as much about depression and its effects in those days as they do now. I have an early memory of sitting on her lap with her sobbing uncontrollably and I put my hands up to her face and said, “I’ll take care of you, Mommy.” Today, 35 years later, when she has an anxiety attack and starts smothering, I still put my — now much bigger — hands around her face and say, “I’ll take care of you, Mommy.”

What a lot of people don’t understand about Mama and me is how much I’ve felt her sacrifice throughout my life. In the picture of us on this page, I’m in 5th grade so Mama would’ve been about 28, which isn’t too old to start over by any scale and as you can plainly see, she was a beautiful woman. She had numerous suitors vying for her affection, but she always brought me out immediately in the conversation and any man who balked hit the bricks. She had more than one man of wealth who would have loved to marry her and make her life much simpler and easy, but she always put me before herself and my happiness before hers so she never took that risk. Security was one of the wonderful gifts Mama gave me.

Of all the things Mama gave me, though, the greatest was her faith. Mama gave her life to the Lord when I was barely three and it guides her still. I have a crystal clear memory of being six years old. It was summer. We were in the first trailer Daddy and Mama had bought and put on the homeplace in Gray Court where Mama still lives. I was playing in the floor in the living room putting together Lego blocks and I heard Mama crying in her bedroom down the hall. Like I always did when I heard Mama crying, I went to be beside her, but when I got to her bedroom door something made me stop. Mama was kneeling at the foot of the bed with her head resting on an open bible, sobbing. Through the tears, I could make out one sentence over and over, “I can’t raise him alone; You have to help me. He belongs to You, not me.”

Folks, I’ll be as honest as I know how. I’ve done a multitude of things I won’t mention. I’ve been a terrible person. I’ve been drunk, high, and stoned out of my mind. I’ve hurt people and been hurt myself, but no matter where I’ve been; what I’ve been through, or what I’ve done, I’ve never been able to get that scene out of my mind. More than anything else in this entire messed up life of mine, the reason I believe there is a God, a man called Jesus, and a place called Heaven is they’ve lived in my mother’s eyes since I was three years old.

One day, maybe sooner, maybe later, I’ll stand beside a pink casket over an empty grave next to Papa John’s in Cannon Memorial Gardens. I’ll read the 23 Psalm and the 31st Chapter of Proverbs before I say a prayer for Mama’s soul, and while I am completely certain my heart will be broken into shards t0o many and too fine to number, I’ll have the knowledge that I will see her again. Until then, however, I’ll cherish every moment with her.

I love her. She’s my Mama.

Love all of you, too! Keep those feet clean.

I Hope That Was A Great Hamburger, Mr. Magoo!!

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This car has similar crash damage to the Impala Mama was driving. If the car hadn't been so big . . .

Car wrecks loom large in my family history. I told y’all the story of how my beautiful first car was destroyed in a wreck, and that was far from the worst wreck to touch my loved ones. When Mama was 17, she was in a head on collision that very nearly killed her, which means I wouldn’t be here either. All she remembers about the wreck is pulling out of the gas station in Gray Court. The next thing she remembers is waking up in Hillcrest Hospital some two days later. Her left leg was shattered and her right arm was broken in several places in addition to various other cuts and bruises. Looking at pictures of the car, I don’t see how she survived, especially given she wasn’t wearing a seat belt and this was way before air bags in cars.

She had to be torched out of the car. One note that is a little funny now, but was gruesome back then involved Mama’s head. See, in her younger years, Mama wore a lot of wigs. Given the jaw dropping beauty of Mama’s naturally long blonde hair, I have no idea why she’d ever want to cover it up with fake nylon hair, but apparently it was “the style.” In any event, she was wearing a particularly realistic looking wig on the day of her wreck and the force of the impact threw her head backwards and the wig fell off in the back seat. Her cousin, who was a rookie SC Highway Patrolman at the time, was the first to arrive on the scene and the first thing he saw was that wig lying on the floor of the car’s back seat. It was covered in blood and from the angle, he couldn’t see Mama in the front seat so he surmised she had been decapitated. Unfortunately, he’d just eaten lunch at the Ranch Road Steakhouse.

Just ignore the fat kid with the stupid grinny smile, but see what I mean about Mama's hair? Why would you cover that up?

The double chili Ranch Burger didn’t stay down.

So, I told you all that to tell you about today. This morning just about saw the end of one GS Feet and Mama Feet as well. We had been to NHC in Clinton to visit with Granny and make sure she was being treated to suit Mama, which she wasn’t, but that’s a story for another time. Since Mama needed to stop by the vet’s office to pick up some flea medicine for Bitsy and Rocky, I drove us through Laurens instead of taking the highway like we normally do. That almost became the last detour I ever took.

Driving anywhere with Mama is an adventure. Ever since “the wreck” as we call it, she has been terrified of cars. Of course, if I’d nearly died, been in a coma for a few days, and then had to spend the next year in a body cast and the year after that learning how to walk again, I might be a little nervous about motor vehicles myself, so I’ve gotten used to Mama’s quirks in the passenger’s seat. She stays tensed up and she stomps her foot on an imaginary brake pedal whenever she thinks we need to stop — which is a lot more than I think we need to stop.

So, we were be-bopping along the main drag through Laurens and Mama had already stomped a hollow in the Element’s right front floor mat. I slowed down just a bit and asked Mama if she’d like a drink from the McDonald’s up ahead. Even though she said no, that moment of reducing speed — and a healthy dose of Divine Intervention — probably saved our lives because just as we neared the restaurant’s entrance, the Buick in front of us in the left lane decided he needed a Big Mac or some fries RIGHT NOW and simply turned in to the parking lot FROM THE LEFT LANE!

Hope your food was cold you stupid bag of monkey boogers!! Where'd you learn to drive? Clown school?

No turn signal. Not even a brake light tap. Nothing. One minute Mama and I are riding along talking and the next minute my life is flashing before my eyes as the Element’s anti-lock brakes went to work stopping us on a dime. All I could see was a windshield full of green four-door. I stood on the brakes and shot out my right arm to hold Mama back, just like she has done to me on countless occasions over the years. Truthfully, I didn’t think I’d get us stopped in time because it all happened in an instant.

We managed to avoid the collision though and I was so stunned I didn’t even think to lay down on the horn. Mama was quiet for about two seconds before she started screaming at the driver of the Buick — now in the drive thru lane — and beating her right hand on the door in an attempt to get out of the still moving Element and rip the offending driver a brand new rear orifice. Mama, as a rule, doesn’t swear, but in this particular instance, she was so angry she was stuttering trying to think of a church approved word to call the driver. I was just happy we made it.

So all’s well that ends well. The driver was an idiot, of course, but that’s how fast your life can end. Mama has a nice bruise on her hand from pounding the door (all the Prednisone she must take makes it easy for her to bruise) and it took the rest of the ride home for her to calm down enough to breathe as well as she could . . . which ain’t real good. Upon reflection, if that had been the time for my ticket to get punched, I could think of worse ways to go than a car wreck next to Mama, but that certainly would leave Budge in a mess so I’m glad everything worked out!

So be careful on the roads, folks. Hug each other before you drive off and never leave one another if you’re angry. You never know if it could be the last time you see one another alive!

Love y’all and keep those feet clean so you’ll look nice if you have a wreck!