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Humor May 2014

Agelessly Yours

You Call That A Compliment?

By Karen White-Walker

Dad was like a Paul Newman and Robert Redford combined. We girls always joked that if Dad had Mom's personality and vice versa, Hollywood wouldn't have been big or shiny enough to hold such a duo!

You'd definitely be in the minority if you were to have met my mom and not thought she was a real character. And that's a testimonial to those who are born with an innate sense of humor and who aren't afraid to laugh out loud, blow their noses and wipe their tears, while others try to maintain their composure and some semblance of seriousness.

"I'm not that important that all eyes are upon me," Mom insisted. "For at my age am I a real knock-out that make heads turn?"

Yes! For a dazzling personality and an infectious laugh are forerunners to any cosmetic touch ups that are available to enhance the view. But I say, the heck with the externals and treat the aging population with medicine for the soul, antidotes such as laughter and joy.

Mom did have one personality flaw that we, her daughters, never wanted to emulate. Her whole life centered around our father, Mom's handsome husband, and practically every day we got a word-for-word description of what Dad said, what he did, and his mood and tone dictated her mood and tone when she was around him. Nobody should have THAT amount of power, but emotional connections can be mighty strong.

"Is Dad so important that all eyes are upon him? Is he a real knock-out that make heads turn?" We girls asked Mom.

To that second question a resounding yes! For Dad was like a Paul Newman and Robert Redford combined. We girls always joked that if Dad had Mom's personality and vice versa, Hollywood wouldn't have been big or shiny enough to hold such a duo!

I'm not saying that Mom wasn't pretty, she was. In fact, her sister Pauline was told many times that she looked like Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With The Wind, and you could tell that Mom and she were sisters. Unfortunately it was their brother Jim who looked more like the horses in that same film because of his rather large mouth, overbite and crooked teeth. Not the kind of teeth that would prompt insensitive uncouth people to whisper, "Why that guy could eat corn-on-the-cob through a picket fence," no, absolutely not, but a mouth that wasn't his best feature. But Jim also had that contagious personality that drew people toward him like opposite ends of a magnet. It's like Mom and Uncle Jim could waltz into a crowded room and before even looking up, you felt their presence. That's charisma and unlike collagen or Botox, you can't buy it, bottle it –  it must come naturally.

One morning while Mom was working in a little bakeshop, the patrons walked in for their “usual,” but not before greeting Mom with, "Good Morning, Sunshine, or "Hold the sugar in our coffee, you're sweet enough." And how about, "That loose flour is encircling your head like a halo, you angel, you."

Talk like that always made Dad want to puke, but not that one day when he was there to have his coffee. To hear Mom tell it she was delighted that, for some reason that morning, he couldn't keep his eyes off of her. Even after so many years of marriage, she still felt a thrill when he looked at her, but why was he staring at her? Could it be that her tan made her teeth look whiter, her big white earrings made her tan look bronzier? She didn't really care because her husband was there and she was so certain that today he would give her that illusive and rarest of all things, a compliment from a conservative, sometimes quiet and aloof husband. She poured his coffee and asked teasingly, "Should I hold the sugar?" He leaned back, studied her face, smacked his lips and shook his head.

"My God, if you're not your brother, Jim, I don't know who is!"

And that's the closest thing to a compliment that Mom ever received from the only man in her life, and because she was Mom, she saw the humor in it, mainly because she had expected so much more from her spouse. Most couples do.

Here Mom thought she looked unusually pretty and perky that morning and Dad thought that as a person ages, he or she turns more and more into the family relatives. I guess people can live with that, but dear God, you want to look at least like you're of the same gender!


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