“It’s Mary, Mom.”
“I’m not going to get a thing done this evening. Oh, alright, Bobby, let her in.”
“Hello, Bobby. Where’s your mama?”
“In the kitchen…. Mary’s here, Mom.”
Mom led Mary into the living room and sat her down on the sofa.
“Bobby, put the kettle on.”
I went to the kitchen and put on the kettle. Then I hurried back to the living room to hear what Mary had to say. Mary was always up on the lowdown.
Mary was still inquiring about Grandma’s health.
“Is Grandma still taking that sassafras tea I gave her?”
“Oh, yes, well she’s feeling a little better,” Mom fibbed.
“You know, when you get old you get blue. There’s no escaping it. Sitting by the window all day in a rocking chair doesn't help. A little bit of that tea will fix her up, poor thing.
If that doesn't help, let me know and I’ll give her some ginseng. Deedee found a new bunch up in Kingerski’s Hollow the other day.”
I went to the kitchen and poured two cups of Maxwell House for Mom and Mary. I put a little extra sugar in Mary’s, just the way she liked it.
“Speaking of Grandma, sitting in that rocker has got to affect her innards. She doesn't get bound up does she? (Mary didn’t like to use the word “constipated”.)
“Why no, she hasn't complained of it, not that she would. She doesn't like to complain.”
“That’s how old folks are. Why complain? Things could always be worse.
Did I tell you about the enema I gave old lady Butnik? Mildred says I saved her life. The old lady was backed up like the Aswan Dam and just wanted to die. Mildred didn’t know where to turn.
A person feels like if they go to a medical doctor for an impacted stool, they will just get the brushoff. ‘These things take time,’ they will say. Well sometimes Mother Nature needs a little help.”
I piped in, “Did you give her some of that “Big Thunder Prune Juice”?
“Why Bobby, that might work. I’m not familiar with that brand. Mildred did try some prune juice for a couple of days.”
“If prune juice doesn't do the trick, have her swallow a stick of dynamite." (I was thinking of a Daffy Duck cartoon.)
“Why you little half-baked potato, I do think you’re making fun of me. You know, I've put spells on little boys before. You wouldn’t want me to put a hex on you, would you?” Mary’s sharp nose threatened from between her pink cheeks. I could swear her left eye turned from blue to green and back to blue again.
“Bobby, either be quiet or go read a book”, Mom commanded.
Mary continued with her story. “You know, it would have taken maybe three sticks of dynamite - Oh, I’m as bad as the boy. An impacted stool is no laughing matter. I tell you old Mrs. Butnik was standing on a banana peel at death’s door. ‘Please help, whatever you can do’, Mildred begged me.
‘You’re my angel of mercy.’
I’m no angel but I do know a thing or two about helping my neighbors when they are in trouble. I got out my bladder and hose and squeeze bottle of glycerin and took charge.
We got old Mrs. Butnik up on the toilet – you know it wasn’t hard because she is just wasting away.
She jumped about two inches off the seat when I did the insertion so I knew she was alive. When I finished, we left her there. Mildred and I started a little game of pinochle while we waited.
I know you want to hear me describe the explosion, Bobby, but it wasn’t like that. But imagine what would happen if the Aswan High Dam suddenly collapsed.
'Don’t flush that toilet', I yelled. Too late, Mildred flushed it while I was helping her mother back into bed.
I’m afraid there was an overflow and Mildred’s plush turquoise rug got ruined. I don’t know why people feel that have to pretty up a bathroom like that anyway.”
In another hour or so, Mary exhausted all her topics. We all caught our breaths.
Then it was out the door and up the street. Well, not all the way up the street. Mary had a few more neighbors to call upon before she reached the end of the block.
I don’t think Mary ever actually put a curse on me but if she did, it would explain a lot.