Monday, March 18, 2013

Word Vomit-Age Is Just A Number...Right?

For as long as I can remember, my Mother has not revealed her age to anyone. All through my childhood she maintained the position that she was 21 years old. I can remember strangers asking her age for various reasons and seeing her say with a straight face "Twenty One" without any further explanation or excuse. 

Occasionally the stranger would turn to one of us kids, and ask how old she really was, but we didn't know the truth. My brothers actually even believed she was 21. So it was hilarious when strangers would ask them, because they would just answer back as if it was normal for a 21 year old woman to have 5 children.

I finally figured out her actual age some time around when I was in Junior High by learning what year my father was born and adding their age difference. My younger brothers however took a lot longer to figure it out. Now as adults, we are all absolutely forbidden to tell anyone her true age. I can only imagine the wrath that would ensue, if any of us broke this sacred family rule.

I think the reason she keeps her age to herself is that she feels so young inside. She once told me that sometimes when she looks in the mirror it shocks her to see how old actually she is. But honestly she has always looked really good for her age, so if people really did know her true age, they probably wouldn't believe her anyway.

That was a long preface for my story of how I insulted her, but now you know why it is such a big deal. 

Recently My Mom was over at my house, (she is over a lot these final days of my pregnancy, and this is how I thank her, sheesh) and we were shooting the breeze around my kitchen table. She got some kind of social media update that a public figure whom she admired had passed away from pneumonia. She seemed quite disappointed and also surprised that the cause of death was pneumonia.

I remembered hearing of pneumonia being a common cause of death in nursing homes, and in the moment, it seemed to me that making this particular person's death seem more like a natural occurance than a sudden tragedy, may lessen her shock, and help a bit. 

So I stepped in to try to ease her pain by saying the following:

"It's OK Mom, a lot of old people die of pneumonia."

To which she instantly shot back "He was in his early sixties."

Her tone was one of an offended woman. Offense in the middle of shock and grief is not a good emotion coming from your mother. It was painful for me to withstand her distain for my words in that moment to say the least.

(Now I will not tell you her age in relation to this public figure, but suffice it to say that my referring to someone in their early sixties as old, was a very very bad thing.)

So what did I do? 

What could I do? 

I laughed out loud. And slipped in a "Sorry Mom." Then laughed again and tried to patch things, by stating what a bad one that comment was. 

She did not seem amused. She did not give me an out. She sat there in silence.

We have never spoken of the incident since.

Thank you for reading this Post. To contribute to this series with your own Word Vomit experience, please click on the link below and follow the instructions. We have a couple of good ones coming soon which were submitted by readers, and it always makes me feel less alone in this disease knowing that there are others out there who suffer with me.

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