Those who know me believe (rightly) I’m a tad too frank for my own decorum.
Pardon me for relying on an idiom to explain that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” In early February, my husband and I visited my mother who lives in a senior living community in Fort Myers, Fla.
Here is a real conversation that took place as we walked from her car through an area where smokers linger on benches by the back door.
“Hi, Edna,” mom says. “Your hair looks pretty. Is it a wig?” Edna, startled, says nothing. Because what can you say? She was out for a pleasant smoke with her friends. And now everybody suspects Edna’s beautiful red hair is a wig. (If they didn’t already know.)
Failing to filter
Like me, my mom fails to filter. She told me of another conversation (inquisition?) she had with a gentleman in her complex. I can imagine the questions she lobbed at him.
“When I asked him how old he was, he asked me how much I weighed,” said my contrite mom who acknowledged she learned a lesson, however short-lived.
Still, everybody loves Earlene. At least they say they do when I reveal I’m her visiting daughter. She is kind-hearted, optimistic and approachable. At 88, she drives residents in need to doctor’s appointments and to church. To my chagrin, she talks to everybody as we walk to her car or to the cafeteria for meals.
Still, everybody loves Earlene. At least they say they do when I reveal I’m her visiting daughter.
Curious, not nosy
She knows the names of all who live there. She introduces herself to new residents and finds out as much about them as they are willing to reveal. And she explains that she is “just curious” to those who wonder why she asks so many questions. That’s all–not nosy.
And I believe her. Because I am the same way. My husband of nearly 22 years still bristles when I ask too many questions of new people I meet. “I’m just curious,” I say. And I mean it. It’s my inherited nature. And, truth be told, most people love to talk about themselves.
I am unlike my mother in one notable way, though. She is a ferocious extrovert.
Retired 28 years, my mom makes being an octogenarian look like a daily party. Ask her to play a card game or a round of Chicken Foot, and she’s in. She plays pool with three other women on Wednesdays afternoons, Mexican Train on Wednesday nights, Chicken Foot Thursday evening, Rummikub Friday evening. Oh, and on Monday evenings she goes to Bible study.
Despite her foot-in-mouth shortcomings (inherited by me), my mom has other traits I hope to emulate: a daily prayer life, empathy, caring for others and zest for life.
Yesterday, many of you celebrated Bold Women’s Day. My mother is my bold (if inquisitive) woman. Who is yours?
Terri Lackey is director of communication for Women of the ELCA. Feature photo includes, l-r, Marrie, Loretta, Shirley and Earlene.