21 October 2019

Bess Tuggle's Memoirs of Surviving Children: "Ma" in Ohio, Elizabeth & The Priest

I’m baaAAAaaack!

You know that old saying “You can never go home”?  It’s bullsh&t.  You can.  I’m still recovering from it, but I wouldn’t trade that time for the world.  I was a kid again.  And a word of warning, my thoughts are still disjointed. 

I’ve spent a month with my grandmother in Ohio.  “Ma.”  

Ma is an itty-bitty Irish woman.  She -swears- she’s 4’10.”  She’s lying; she doesn’t even come close.  She’s 94 years old and suffered a stroke.

When I first got there, she was in a rehab home.  She finally made it back home, and I think you’d have to bomb her out to get her to move again.  She’s been in the same house for over 70 years.  I was raised there.

Her short term memory is shot to hell, but her long term memory is excellent.  Every afternoon I sat by her chair and we swapped old stories.  I remember the old neighbors, playmates, yard darts, parties in the basement, an earth quake on Lake Erie, igloos in the back yard…  

Ma has multiple therapist that visit on a regular basis.  Her doctor even makes house calls.  She has an occupational therapist (that she informs every time that she is NOT going to work), a speech therapist, a physical therapist that made her walk -and- shake her bootie.  When she did leg lifts she wanted me to stand in front of her so she could aim for my rear.  And watch out when she has her walker!  No toes are safe!  It was   a constant stream in and out, and never boring, unless the Hallmark channel was on.

It was all good until she had a visit from a local priest.

He had enough family history to engage her, until we got to our name.  Elizabeth.

It’s family history.  I’m one of them, though the only time I usually hear it is when I’m in trouble.  And yes, I got in trouble.

When it came to talking about my great-great aunt, another Elizabeth, I had to open my mouth and didn’t insert my foot quick enough.  I recounted staying with her when I was little.  She had a ritual.  Every evening we had to take off our panties, wash them in the sink and hang them over the curtain rod to dry.  I didn’t think it was that bad.  Hey, I told the truth to the priest.  The priest thought it funny, and my grandmother was -horrified-.  

I earned my name once again.

It was wonderful to go back home, and wonderful to be back home.  Just not sure how long it’s gonna take to remember how to “adult” again.

- Bess Tuggle