Patience has always eluded Hope. She can’t stand to wait for any thing or any one. Ever. Period. Patience, in her opinion, means “wasting precious time” and, as she has chided me countless times, “there is just no reason for that!”
One morning Mom and I were on our way to the doctor’s office for a much dreaded MRI. We had to cross the railroad tracks to get there and, because a train was coming at our usual crossing, I opted to keep going straight in the hopes of crossing the tracks further down the road and avoid waiting. The freight trains that run through Muncie are hundreds of cars long (I know, because count them – obsessively – when I’m waiting: Lord forbid I should waste my time and have an idle mind when waiting for a train!), so my attempt was futile. Yes, we still had to wait.
“Boy!” Momma huffed, as I threw the gear shift into park. “If we knew how many people were waiting for this train all across town, we’d know just how many people were on the verge of cussing.”
Seriously? Comments like this trigger my argumentative spirit, then fuel my temptation to tease, and set me on a roll.
“Ma. I really don’t think anyone is on the verge of cussing. People just don’t hoover on the “verge of cussing”. Most people who want to cuss just cuss!”
“Hey! Maybe that’s what I should do. If I would just cuss instead of holding in my frustration, maybe I would feel better and be a happier person.”
“That’s a really good idea, Ma.”
“No, not really. I don’t know how to cuss, so I just can’t do it.”
“I’ll teach you.” (Clearly I had moved from argument to jest by this point in the conversation.)
“Sure. I’d be happy to do that for you. Would you like that?”
“Hmmm. I suppose it can’t hurt anything, can it?”
“No harm at all. We can start right now while we’re waiting.”
Momma giggled. “OK.”
“Ma. It’s a basic word so don’t act so surprised. Just repeat after me: SHIT.”
“No. I don’t like that word. It’s too ugly.”
Now I was giggling; Momma had stopped.
“Ma. It’s easy. You don’t have to like the word, just say it. Like will come later, after you feel good from saying it. Let’s try it again: SHIT.”
“Can’t we start with a different one?”
“No, Mom. You can’t advance until you learn to say this one. Now come on! SHIT!”
She pouted and I started counting the cars on the train.
“OK. Let’s try this. Turn it into a two-syllable word like the Southern Belles do and push it out through a forced smile like this: SHEE-IT.” I turned to look at her to demonstrate the forced smile.
“Nope. Can’t do it.”
The caboose passed and we continued on our way to the doctor’s office.
“There’s just got to be a different cuss word for me to try on my first lesson. Isn’t there a nicer one?”
“What. You want to start out with the “f” word? Mom. You can’t move on to that one until you’ve mastered SHIT.”
“Yeah, you’ve got a good point. SHEE----. Nope.”
We pulled into the parking lot. Momma looped her arm in mine and we walked toward the door.
“I really don’t see why I need to learn to cuss anyway. I’ve gotten along just fine this many years without cussing, why start now?”
Exasperated, and leaning back toward argumentation, I explained that the whole reason we were having that conversation was because she thought it would help her relieve stress and frustration.
“Remember Mom, you wanted to cuss when we were waiting on that train back there.”
“Oh yeah.” She looked up into my face and gave me a forced smile, but no SHIT.
The nurse explained the procedure then left us in the dressing room to change into a hospital gown. With nervous anticipation, Momma got tangled up in the strings on the gown. Once again she was frustrated. I helped her untangle herself and as I was tying the last bow under her breast, she fell into my chest – a spontaneous embrace.
Just then Momma turned her face upward, barred her teeth in a forced smile, and said, “SHEE-IT.”
“Well done, Momma! Fucking good job!”