“You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.”
My wife, Melissa, is always on the lookout for things to add to mom’s “Toy Box” … things that will keep mom entertained, engaged and challenged. I call them toys for grown up girls and boys. So, when Melissa spotted Mr. Potato Head in Walgreens, she asked me if I thought it was worthy of being in mom’s collection.
My immediate response was that it was plastic, had way too many little parts to keep up with and that mom might try to eat them for a snack.
Melissa deftly countered each of my concerns and in a blink of an eye (mine), we were the proud owner of Mr. Potato Head.
We gave Mr. Potato Head to mom’s caregiver just before leaving town on a rather long business trip and never saw or even followed up on how mom reacted or interacted with her new little tater tot.
This morning, I was reading the newspaper while mom was eating her cereal. It is my “quiet time” and I really treasure those twenty minutes with me, myself and I; my coffee and my paper.
I was only half a cup into my “quiet time” when the sound of silence was shattered.
First I heard mom say, “Look, look at that! Look … it’s a booger. It’s the biggest booger I have ever seen.”
When I looked her way, she was holding Mr. Potato Head in her hands and shaking it with all her might. A tiny plastic pink ear flew through the air followed by an arm.
I was having one of those what-has-mom-done-now moments and was totally focused on finding the booger. Then I realized she was referring to none other than Mr. Potato Head, himself.
“This is the ugliest thing I have ever seen since I was born! You wouldn’t want to be kin to it. Look at that face. You are not in my family. We have got to hide you.”
Before I could yell, “duck,” another little white plastic arm hurdled through the air and plopped on mom’s shoulder. Unfazed, she flicked it off with one hand while continuing to shake Mr. Potato Head with the other.
“I have never seen a person look like this ever in the United States of America! It must be visiting.”
I held back my laughter in order to affirm that possibility with a few nods, and then I just let it all out. The only thing I could think of to say between laughs was, “It’s Mr. Booger Head!”
Mom repeated what I said, shaking harder and harder. “Mr. Booger Head, Mr. Booger Head, that’s you. You are one tiny man and you look like a booger.”
Then, she started tearing off plastic parts and putting them in her mouth. A pretty decent sized red nose formed a lump in her left cheek. My worst fear was being realized … mom was eating Mr. Booger Head … one bite at a time.
I rushed over to get those little plastic parts out of her mouth, yelling, “Mom, quit trying to eat that thing! Spit it out, now!”
She looked up at me and mumbled in a matter of fact tone, “I am not trying to eat it, I am trying to kill it.”
I can totally see your mother with her pointer finger up saying that’s the ugliest thing in the united states of america and being dead serious! Your mother is one of my favorites at the center. Whenever I am feeling down all I have to do is go sit beside and she tells me I am the best of the best and I am going to make it to the top one day. Wherever that may be I hope she is there with me. God bless you both!
I thought of Helen on July 4 when I was listening to Etta James sing “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” and I started dancing and singing happily and loudly. My dog started barking and dancing with me. We had a ball! Helen would have joined right in. She’s an inspiration to me, and I love talking with her.