Mama Knows Best
Itís been a while since youíve come over. Must be near six months now.
Want some tea? I just reheated this morningís pot. Sure glad you donít take sugar, Iím fresh out.
I just canít believe everything thatís been going on here. Itís like some bad movie. Remember that fancy girl my boy brought home? Well, he up and married her. I know, I know. You donít have to say it. I always thought he was smarter than that. You do your best to raise a kid, and hope he turns out okay, but you never know. Must have his daddyís brains. Joe donít know his butt from a hole in the ground.
Donít you go repeating that, either. Thatíd be all Iíd need.
I knew that little twit was trouble the moment I set eyes on her. What with her high and mighty ways and her fancy talking. Iíve never seen someone so uppity. She always thought she was something special, just Ďcause her daddy was so rich and owned a big house over on Aspen Avenue. She was always bragging about the new stove her daddy bought her mama, and the new set of silver.
Pah! Who needs a new stove anyway. This here old cooktop has done me and mine for longer than I can even remember. Not that I wouldnít want a new stove, just that Joeís such a tightwad. Be happy with what youíve got, thatís what I always said.
As for silver, well thatís just a waste of good money, thatís all that is. Those people, theyíre always wasting stuff. Iíve never seen the likes of it. Her mama had me for tea a few months back, and she served me on her fancy dishes with the little pink flowers all around the edges. You wouldnít believe it. She served some kind of fiddly little sandwiches with no crusts. No crusts! And little cakes and tarts, and she called them Ďdaintiesí. And she put three tea bags in that little silver tea pot. Three bags. Iíve never seen such waste. I can make a tea bag last a week or more, if Iím careful. Whatís the matter? Something floating in your tea? Want me to get a spoon to scoop it out with? Youíre sure? Okay then.
It makes me so mad. He never shouldíve married that tart. I donít know why on earth he brought that girl home. What couldíve possessed him to do it? Me and Joe have done everything we could to give him the best possible life. He never lacked for nothing. Me and Joe, we wear the same old clothes for years on end, but he and the other kids always had a new coat for Christmas at least once every couple of years. So what if we bought all their clothes at the Sally Anne? Clothes is clothes, thatís what I always said.
He shouldíve been happy with his lot, but oh no, heís got to get hitched up with Miss High and Mighty. And all of a sudden nothingís good enough for him anymore. He starts looking around and sneering at everything like he was born to be a king or something. Criticizing his daddy when he comes home from the mine, all covered in black and stinking. So what if he stinks? Everybody stinks sometimes, and itís honest work. He canít tell me her daddy never stinks. Well maybe he donít. Heís got that cushy job at that fancy banking office downtown. The only thing he stinks of, is money. Banks. Pah! Donít trust them. Me, I just hide my money inside that old coffee tin in the. . . well never mind.
Of course I trust you! I never said I didnít. Just donít like to be yapping about stuff that should be private. It's safe as safe can be, and no thief would ever find it, no siree. Not even Joe knows where I hide the money, he donít even know I got any. He thinks itís all spent. Every week he comes home and gives me his check, and I pay the rent, and buy the groceries and the beer and squirrel the rest away in my hiding spot. Long as heís got his beer, heís happy. There must be near two hundred dollars in there by now.
Do you want more tea? No? Why not? Something wrong with it? You havenít even finished that one yet! Well, why didnít you just tell me you werenít thirsty? I wouldnít have wasted it. Well, Joe can drink it, heíll never know the difference.
Now where was I? Oh yeah, the tart. He brought that girl home just as proud as proud can be and he expected us to just trip all over ourselves with joy. Like weíd be just so happy for him.
Did you know you snort when you laugh? No, Iím not insulting you. I just never noticed it before. Donít get your shit in a knot. I never meant anything by it.
Anyway, so he gets us invited over to her mamaís for a fancy dinner, and her mama and daddy were just dripping honey. Iíve never seen the likes. And her mama, I knew she was looking at my dress and sneering inside, Ďcause it ainít no Oscar De-Someone-or-other dress. Well, itís my best and it comes from honest money, not from stealing other peopleís money like all them banks do. Theyíre just a bunch of crooks, them banks. So I just stuck my nose up in the air and sneered right back. And then they got to talking about the wedding plans, and I just about fell over what with all the money they was gonna spend on it. A big fancy dress, and all these people, and flowers, and more food than I cook in a whole year. Such waste. If itíd been up to me, Iíd have said to have a Justice do it and save a whole whack of money. But oh no, theyíve got to waste all they can.
Foolishness. If they really want to spread all that money around, they could have given some to me. Yeah, I know. Fat chance.
I told him that they were gonna come to a bad end, but he didnít believe me. He shouldíve listened to his mama. Mama knows best, I always said.
I just donít know what got into that boy. They got married and had their big fancy wedding. Didnít you get the invitation? I made my boy send one out to all our friends. Out of town, eh? Hmm. Oh well, you didnít miss much.
I had to buy me a new dress Ďcause he said he was ashamed to have me come in my old "rags" he called them. Huh. He never complained before. Anyway, I returned it the day after the wedding and got my money back. Had to work out a stain or two first, but it looked as good as new. Never even took the price tag off, just covered it with a shawl. No one even knew.
So, the next thing you know, heís working eighteen hours a day just to pay for all the stuff she wanted. "I have to give her the life sheís accustomed to, mama," he said. Fancy talk. He just wore himself out working all those hours. And herself, Miss Priss, sitting at home eating her bonbons, getting fatter every day.
She got herself knocked up not long after the wedding. And I thought to myself, thatís all that boy needs, another mouth to feed. I figure, if they had that baby, heíd never leave her. Heíd live his whole life working his tail off to keep her in sweets and fancy clothes. My boy deserves better than that.
Next thing you know, she comes moaning to me cause her mamaís out of town, gone to Hawaii or some such place. And Miss High and Mighty is feeling poorly and needs someone to wait on her. Hand and foot. Like I got nothing better to do with my time than wait on some little rich brat. "I ainít no nurse," I told my boy, and he looked at me and said, "No, youíre a mama," and tried to make me feel all guilty.
Well, I ainít no dummy, I know an opportunity when I see one. So I says to her, "Sure, Iíll come over and help you out." And she was gushing at the mouth with her "Thank you, Mama Rose." I wanted to wring her scrawny neck. Sheís got some nerve calling me Ďmamaí.
So I went over to their apartment. I hated that place, what with all the new-fangled gadgetry, and brand new appliances. Her mama and daddy bought them a new fridge and stove for a wedding gift. Close your mouth, you might drip on my tablecloth. I didnít say you slobber, I was just teasing. Touchy, ainít you?
They couldnít stop talking about that stupid fridge and stove. Nobody said a word about the gift we gave them. His daddy worked hard to afford a new pot, but was they thankful? No sir, not even a how do you do. And I donít think that little witch ever used it, neither. Every time I went there, I looked, and there it was, hiding at the back of a cupboard. Gathering dust. I havenít had me a new pot in longer than I can remember, and she hid it away like itís a piece of trash.
Well, here I am running at the mouth again, where was I? Oh, yeah, I went over to their fancy apartment, and there she was lying on the couch moaning and complaining of morning sickness. Like sheís the only woman in the world whoís ever had it. Pah! I had me five kids, and I never complained even once about feeling poorly. I had to get up in the morning and cook Joeís oatmeal, feed the kids, and get the ones who were old enough out the door to school. I never had time to complain about nothing. But I ainít no fancy girl, neither. I guess they figure since all my kids are grown up and gone that Iíve got lots of time to help Miss Fancy pants.
Iím getting to it! Just keep your britches on.
I went over every morning, and fixed her some oatmeal. I got the best oatmeal recipe in the world.
No, you donít want the recipe.
She wanted it with lots of brown sugar and maple syrup. They had real maple syrup. I ainít got no use for it. Itís too sweet for me. Molasses will do fine for me and mine, but oh no, Her Highness just had to have her real maple syrup. Fancy girl. I donít know what my boy ever seen in that tart.
Well, she ended up getting sicker and sicker, and finally, they put her in the hospital. The doctors, they said they didnít know what was wrong with her. Her tummy was aching, and she was bleeding some too.
My boy, he sat at her bedside day and night, just watching her get paler and paler. I told him itíd be for the best if the good Lord just up and took her. He just sat there and said nothing. I know he didnít believe me, but one day, heíll say, "You were right, mama. You always knew best."
Well, she finally died, and they buried her just last week. Now my boy can find himself a proper wife, one who knows her place in life, and wonít expect so much from my poor boy. No, heíll be fine. He just doesnít know it yet.
So, tell me about your family. Is your daughter still with that jerk? Heíll be the death of her, you know. Donít look so surprised. I know he beats on her, word gets around in a place like this. There, there, donít cry. Need a hankie? Itís clean, donít worry.
I could help you with that. No, with your girlís husband.
I am not talking in circles.
I can help you. Sure I can.
How bad do you want to get rid of him? That much, eh? I know the feeling. You have to promise not to tell. Well, itís the oatmeal, you see. Iíve got a secret ingredient. You got yourself a nut grinder? Well, you can borrow mine. Itís old, but it still works.
No, not for nuts. Whoíd put nuts in oatmeal? Glass. Yep. Grind it fine, itís got to be real fine. Donít you look at me like that. You asked. Besides, he deserves it. Piece of crap. No woman should have to put up with that garbage. You love your girl, donít you?
Well, then? Weíve got to protect our own.
No, he wonít even know itís there. Donít you worry. That little twit told me I made the best oatmeal she ever ate. Now sheís six feet under. Guess you could say my cooking is Ďto die forí.
Donít mess with mama, thatís what I always said.
Lisa Farewell lives a heartbeat away from the beautiful Canadian Rocky Mountains with her husband, their two children and a blue-point Siamese. She is a full time mother and writer and is currently at work on a novel set in Eighteenth century Alberta. When Lisa is not teaching her children or writing she can be found at the local archery club, reading a book or gazing at the mountains.