Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Not Exactly June Cleaver

This is from last year but seriously, my mom still rocks.

My mom has never been June Cleaver.
Don’t get me wrong; I think that’s a good thing! June was sweet and all but she was flustered with dirt on the countertop or the thought of dinner being late. If she had to raise three kids, work full time at her own career and help her husband keep the family business running, poor June’s perfectly coiffed head would have popped right off.

But my mom is stronger than June Cleaver could ever hope to be.

And the memory that really drives it home for me isn’t even from my childhood but from about 8 years ago when I got skin cancer.

Newsflash: This was not news I took well.

I had basal cell carcinoma not melanoma and my life was never in danger but I made one of the classic blunders: I researched basal cell carcinoma on the internet. Why I continue to do this is anyone’s guess; it doesn’t make me feel better. In fact, it usually makes me feel about a thousand times worse because the internet usually shows the worst case scenario—which, in the case of basal cell carcinoma, includes the phrase “mutilating disfigurement.” Add in the fact the tumor was right smack in the middle of my face and I think it’s easy to see why--after several glasses wine—I just started calling people and screaming “Mutilated! Going to be mutilated over here!”

But my mom never lost her cool. I was single then so she went with me to every doctor’s appointment, every consultation, and the surgery itself. “It’s going to be fine,” she said every time.

“They’re going to cut off HALF MY NOSE!” I shrieked.

June Cleaver probably would have cried and hugged me…and then I would have degenerated into even worse hysterics, possibly for days at a time.  My mom was stoic, “Not half your nose,” she disagreed. “Maybe a fourth. And not any of it that you actually USE. You’re going to be fine.”

Even after the surgery—on the horrible day I call the “unveiling” she was unflappable. We unwrapped the mummy-like mess that was my face and took a good long look.

“Looks good,” Mom said, as if she didn’t notice how the swelling had pulled my face—especially my nose—in all directions. Like my nostrils weren’t standing at attention like a pig’s.

“Good?” I shrieked. “Is this how you think it should look? Like I have a PIG NOSE? Do you think I started this whole procedure with a pig nose? Have I unknowingly had a pig nose my whole life or do you think the doctor just mixed me up with the pig nose patient down the hall?”

“It’s just the swelling,” Mom assured me, and threw Vicodin in my mouth with reckless abandon. “I’m sure it’ll go back to normal.”

I collapsed on the couch, muttering “pig nose!” and oinking at random intervals until finally succumbing to the narcotic’s sweet embrace. Then Mom smiled and said “If you’re ok, I think it’s time to take Peek-a-Boo for a walk.”

‘Odd,’ I thought. ‘Peek is litter box trained; he doesn’t really need to go out.’ But the great thing about Vicodin is how it keeps those kind of thoughts at an unexplored distance.

Then Mom wandered out the door.

I found out months later—after the swelling had gone down and my face became significantly less porcine—that she went outside to have hysterics of her own. She called my dad and let him have it. “It’s awful!” she reportedly said. “Call your lawyer because if it doesn’t get better we’re suing that doctor for everything he has…my baby is NEVER WORKING AGAIN, DO YOU HEAR ME?”

Then she got herself calmed back down, came in, smiled at me and said “I think it’s looking better already.”

My mother has never been June Cleaver…she’s an Amazon.

And she’s the strongest person I know.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! I think she's pretty awesome!

  2. So glad your mom is strong for you... but human too!

  3. Yes, your mom is strong and so good in hard times. I never knew you had nose surgery...can't tell it was done!!