It was hard to make the costumed dogs sit still on the moving float during the parade with crowded streets, horseback riders and a blaring marching band. However, my young friends, Peggy and Kimberly, hid inside a large decorated cardboard box and held the leashes tight while reassuring the male mutts.
Groom Chico and blushing bride Sandy panted nervously from the commotion. The school girls kept the pair from diving off the side and bolting.
At the end of the procession, the judges handed us a first place trophy. All our hard work had paid off in the doggy outfit creations and adorning the flatbed trailer and garden tractor with plastic flowers, driven by ten-year-old Doreen. The classmates donned me in clerical attire, which comprised an oversized suit jacket worn backwards with a white collar.
We were before our time. A female priest performed the nuptials for the gay couple and chauffeured them about. Tin cans tied behind the wagon bounced and clattered upon the pavement. The racket added to the canines’ nervousness; they were getting cold paws, but it went smoothly once I hitched the betrothed.
Mom lent a hand in the weeks prior putting the entire ensemble together as she did annually when I took part in the Beiseker Days County Fair. The dog wedding was our best idea yet, even better than when I dressed up like a clown one time and a robot the next.
Mother helped spray paint the cardboard box silver while Dad cut holes in the top and sides for my head and arms. Tin foil antennae completed the look. Our parents indulged me, as we didn’t have drama classes, and this was a special time when I could shine.
I was a problem child, an angry kid who solved my disputes with a left hook. My friend Sherry said she stayed on my right to avoid being hit. My right lazy eye had 20% vision remaining, so the ophthalmologist patched my other eye in order to strengthen it. My pirate appearance added to my persona.
Mom reminded me at family weddings and other events to be a lady, and I would try, but someone would tease me and fists would fly. Kim our cousin endured my wrath as I knocked him onto his butt when he insulted my dress.
Forlornly Mom asked why I couldn’t behave myself for a change.
On more than one occasion I lugged home stray pregnant dogs and cats and hid the fur babies in the toy box. In one case a feline gave birth in our Brother Dick’s prized muscle car, a pumpkin orange Dodge Duster. I was always in a pickle.
My pet frogs serenaded our folks at night while they tried to sleep and kept them hopping mad.
I was a class clown turned defense lawyer in times of trouble. It mortified Mom and Dad when I insisted on going to a parent-teacher interview to defend my human rights.
From elementary school on I learned naughty lyrics such as, “We three kings of orient are, tried to smoke a rubber cigar”. The more annoyed Mom became, the more I liked it.
It was difficult for our parents when I had a child at 17, but they welcomed my perfect baby girl into the family. I married the father and had two more children with him and the grandparents aided with the newborns so I could rest.
Moreover they were supportive when I divorced and tried to help raise my kids, but Dad became ill soon thereafter with the double whammy of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. From then on, our parents struggled with their own hardships, but Mom assisted when she could. She loved children, and prided herself on having a huge brood, the tribe of Jacob, she exclaimed.
After Dad passed away, Mom moved into supportive housing and from there to various nursing homes. While living in one private facility, she suffered terrible neglect, which kills most elderly people. After she recovered in hospital she went to a wonderful long-term care home.
Thankfully Mom was happy-go-lucky in her dementia, which resulted from that incident. She was always singing and joking, which drove the other residents crazy. Mom enjoyed having relatives and former neighbours from Beiseker in her facility. She loved entertaining visitors.
Whilst Mom was dying, two of her granddaughters sang outside the bedroom window. Mom smiled, waved and tried to sing along amidst her pain.
It was reassuring to have our sister Marg with her when she drew her last breath. The pandemic lockdown had just begun, and it was good that Mom wasn’t alone in her final hours. Thank you, Margie, for being there for her.
At Mom’s farewell party, she would have loved reincarnating briefly as a fly on the wall taking it all in, and if that fly could bust a move, it’d be an Irish jig.
I recall Mom’s voice as she read a bedtime story of Dr. Seuss to me and in this rendition it would translate; a fly went by, she said “Oh hear”, I saw her shake, and she shook with cheer.
Cheers to you, Mom.
A tribute to my Mother Bernadette, written with love, your youngest brat, Doreen
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.