Archive for mothers

Post #160 – About The Expiration Date and the End of the Beehive Hairdo

Posted in Family, family battles, family drama, grandmothers, humor, life, memoir, Motherhood, narrative memoir, nonfiction, people, relationships, true stories, uncategoried, work, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2016 by tenaciousbitch

Knowing that each of us has an expiration date does not make it any easier when we’re told that the end is near for a family member or a friend – even if that person is 99 years old. I got that phone call earlier today from a hospice nurse about my Grandmother. She hasn’t been able to eat more than a bite or 2 of food at a time, and she’s been sleeping pretty much since Thanksgiving.

And the nurse said she was too weak to speak to me even if she brought Nana the phone. That’s when I broke down because anyone who knows Nana – knows that the only thing in this universe that would stop her from talking would be if the Grim Reaper himself was hovering about her bed.And the nurse kept using the word “declining”, which I tend to think of as a hospice buzz word synonymous with dying. I remember hearing that term a few days before my mother passed away.

I was absolutely miserable when Nana lived with us for two very long years, i.e. check out Post #1 about what she said to me when my mother was terminally ill @

And/or this post about Nana’s back-handed racisim @  However, I found myself sobbing on the way to the grocery store where I went to fax some paperwork to hospice in order to secure her care for however long she has left.

Ten minutes, I was told for the confirmation that the fax went through to Vitas Hospice’s office. Ten. Long. Minutes trying not to start crying again in front of total strangers. And then, a miracle happened. I decided I’d treat myself to my favorite dessert, vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. On my way to the beloved freezer holding my creamy comfort in a 1/2 gallon box, I realized that God knew how sad I would be at this moment, and a miracle occurred that caused me to break into a wide smile despite my melancholy mood…

ALL OF MY FAVORITE ICE CREAM TREATS WERE ON SALE…:) november-29-2016-019   And the Skinny Cow was buy one get one FREE! I don’t think that’s every happened that I can recall. 

So, despite the fact that I started bawling again in my car on the way home, I realized life really is about the little things. The ice cream miracle. The fact that my husband does the dishes without me asking him to do so as well as watching the hilarious antics of my cats, one of whom has learned to lock herself in the bathroom when she wants some downtime from the other 2 cats (funny story for another day).

And last but not least, the incredible euphoria I experience every single time I go to the beach (any beach, Florida, California, New Jersey, doesn’t matter), and I sit staring at the vast expanse of water roaring to and fro in front of me. There’s nothing in this world that I enjoy more (as far as leisure activities, that is) than lying on the beach on a hot and sunny day…except maybe lying on the beach with a good book.

And I wondered if any of those wonderful moments that Nana has experienced over her nearly 100 years were ruminating through her mind as she drifts away from this world. I hope so. And I decided that I was going to remember Nana as the crazy redheaded woman who spoiled me rotten every time we came to visit…who so loved the hairstyle shown in the photo below…which I never really understood but Nana never really understood my love of science fiction and zombie movies either…:)nana-demonstrating-shoes That said, even though she and I are very different in a lot of ways, she taught me a very valuable life lesson – just by the way she lived her life. And I’m sure she doesn’t even realize what I’ve gleaned from her in this respect.

In that, the most important ingredient to happiness is to be true to yourself. And it’s okay if you’re not like other women, or other people in general. Nana was the FIRST woman in her family and among her friends who worked after she got married.

A year or so after my mother was born, Nana took a job at the company store. My mother grew up in the coal fields of West Virginia. And Nana got to know the manager of the company store at church, and he mentioned that he needed a part-time clerk. My grandmother eagerly took the job, not because she needed the money, but because she WANTED to work. And she eventually became the manager of the store.

She wasn’t happy sitting around the house all day cleaning and changing diapers. And this was in 1936! Such just wasn’t done, but Nana did it! She didn’t care what other people thought about it either. My grandfather was shocked and confused, but he knew Nana well enough to know that it didn’t do any good to argue with her or to try to dissuade her from whatever she wanted. She was going to do it anyway. And she worked until she was 78 years old. She retired 3 times before she finally decided it was time to give work a rest.

I hope that I’m able to see Nana again before she’s ushered from this world.  When taking care of Nana got to be too much, and she needed full-time care, she didn’t want to be in a nursing home here in Ohio where I live because she hates the weather here. She requested to move back down South where she’d lived for more than 50 years.

So, we put her in a nursing home about 5 miles from the house where she had lived from 1976 until she moved in with me and my husband in 2011. And they’ve taken very good care of her though they refer to her as “the Diva”, which is more than appropriate because I’ve never encountered anyone more spoiled than she is, God Bless Her…:) And there are quite a few posts herein that will more than quantify that nickname.

And so with that, I will say adieu so that I can make travel plans to see the crazy redhead one more time before her lights go out in Georgia for the last time.

Over and out from CASA DE CRAZY…

~TenaciousBitch and her band of truth-spouting hippies


Post #133 – Love my merlot and Beck’s Light – but Keep the Ganja away from me!

Posted in Family, humor, memoir, Motherhood, nonfiction, parenting, relationships, true stories, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2014 by tenaciousbitch

A couple of days ago, my 22-year-old son, Max, decided to smoke a bowl of weed in his room, which he knows is NOT allowed (i.e. ) not only because it’s illegal in Ohio, but also because I’m extremely allergic to cannabis.

No, I’m not kidding, and I’ll elaborate on that momentarily.

I had feigned smoking marijuna  when I was in junior high when my friend, Cassidy, was dating a 14-year-old drug dealer.  Um, yeah, that’s a story in itself, but anyway, we were in the woods near Cassidy’s house one hot summer night, hanging out with her boyfriend and several others.

I was quite happy with my 40 ounce bottle of Schlitz Malt liquor, and when someone handed me a joint, I, like President Clinton, did not inhale. It must’ve been some pretty potent ganja though because 10-15 minutes later, no one seemed to notice that I wasn’t even pretending to take a toke.

I’d avoided cannabis because I thought it smelled like shit, and I didn’t trust anyone. I didn’t know Cassidy’s boyfriend that well, nor did I know where he procured all the product he sold each week.

I’d seen stories on the news about people who’d been hospitalized or died from smoking pot laced with Strychnine or God knows what. And I wanted no part of it. I didn’t and don’t care what anyone else does. That’s their business, and I know there are thousands of potheads who’ve never been gravely ill or died from toking it up.

Also, I’d seen my dad and other relatives rather inebriated at Christmas or whatever and understood the affects/dangers of alcohol. And I’ve loved beer from the first time my father let me have a tiny bit in my favorite blue juice glass when I was 7 (sans juice, btw).

It’s an Irish tradition to let one’s offspring lap at the liquor to stave off alcoholism. Sounds odd, but it makes sense when you think about it.

If I’d never sampled beer or chocolate, I’m sure once I’d shed my parental chains, I probably would’ve gone on a chocolate and beer bender the likes of which the world has ever seen…and once I recovered from my coma, the brain damage would most likely have been minimal…:)

When I was a teenager, the fact that  alcohol is regulated by the government and is/was sold in the very store where my mother bought all our groceries weighed heavily in its favor. You can’t say that for cannabis – at least not yet.

Granted, I did drink excessively in high school and college and beyond. But for over a decade, I’ve rarely consumed more than 2 or 3 glasses of wine or 2-3 beers. And there are even days when I abstain from spirits completely.

Anywho, as to how I discovered my allergy to cannabis, I can thank my friend, Prissy for that. She was previously mentioned in

Prissy had harassed me for years to get high with her.

“If I smoke with you, will you please leave me the fuck alone about it?”

“Promise,” Prissy said, smiling.


She was very excited. I was not. I was just relieved I’d finally found a way to shut her up. From the get-go, it gave me a headache. I took two hits and announced I was done.

Prissy shook her head, laughing, “Really? It’s so fucking smooth. Ricky’s best strain yet.” Ricky was a friend of hers who harbored a few illegal plants on his grandfather’s farm.

“It’s just not for me.” The next day I found out just how true that statement was.

I literally could not breathe through my nose at all as if it were clothes-pinned shut. And the clamoring of pain in my cranium was worse than any hangover I’d ever experienced. And, ahem, I was never really a lightweight when it came to liquor.

Not long before smoking pot with Prissy, I was late arriving at my boyfriend Reese’s apartment on New Year’s, and his friends had been drinking since noon and were all passed out well before midnight.

So, I drank almost half a pony keg by myself (after 3-4 beers beforehand) and almost a liter of champagne when Dick Clark’s ball dropped. Reese was 21, so his place was our party palace for awhile in high school. And, no, I didn’t drive home that night. My mother thought I was at Cassidy’s.

Therefore, though I haven’t stolen anyone’s tiger, I was well acquainted with the egregiously horrible condition caused by throwing back too much liquor.

The next day, after smoking with Prissy, I told Mrs. McDonald, the counselor, at school what I’d done.

“I need to see a doctor,” I said.

The counselor took one look at my puffy eyes and hearing my frog-like speech like someone with the worst of colds, and she knew I was really ill.

She was kind enough to excuse me for the rest of the day without a note from my mother. I took the city bus to see Dr. Reizner, our family doctor.

Though Dr. Riezner looked like Santa Claus -with his white hair and twinkly blue eyes, he had the gruff and blunt personality of your average drill instructor. He was a fine doctor, however, according to my mother.

“Young lady,” Dr. Reizner began, his forehead crinkling into an ugly frown. “If you’d smoked any more, you would’ve needed surgery.”

“Oh, my God,” I gasped.

He nodded. “You’re going to need a strong decongestant and Prednisone, a drug often given to cancer patients, to reduce the swelling in your sinuses.”

Now I know that he only mentioned Prednisone was a cancer drug to scare me because I’ve since learned that Prednisone is a widely prescribed medication, which my Aunt took for her allergies in the late 80s/early 90s.

But he didn’t know me well enough to know he didn’t need the dramatics to steer me away from marijuana.

So, here I am 30 years later, and my allergy to the daggone stank weed is much worse because just being exposed to the smell of it in the hallway outside Max’s room gave me another goddamned sinus infection. Since I haven’t been around it in 2-3 decades, it’s not surprising the affect is so profound.

However, I just didn’t want to deal with Max’s hysterics, so I’ve yet to say anything because he loves to wax on about how I’m full of shit, etc. But, Max, darling, these sinuses don’t lie.

That said, in my defense, my husband, Charlie, went off about the marijuana perfume when he got home from work that day…:) not that I really need any substantiation, mind you, it’s my damned house, and cannabis/crack/crystal meth/heroin/un-vaccinated squirrels/weasels/ho’s named Sienna/orange clothing or furniture/muddy feet/buffalo/snakes (except for those of the jeweled variety) cakes/brownies full of nuts, which I’m also allergic to, and tarantulas JUST AIN’T welcome!

So, AHEM…if it walks like weed/talks/smells like weed/shit, FIRE and a hole in the ground, baby, it must be weed.

Perhaps, I’ll drop by the local ER on the way home from Kentucky. Yes, I’m on holiday. Maybe, I’ll present Max with copies of my X-Rays and my script for Prednisone.

Unfortunately, he might still cry hogwash, and another blowout will ensue. Dear Lord…let this NOT be the case.


TenaciousBITCH and her band of truth-spouting hippies

© Tenacious Bitch/Kennedy Smith 2014


Yes, I bought a COBRA! :)

Posted in Family, humor, memoir, nonfiction, parenting, relationships, true stories, true stories, Uncategorized, young adult with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2014 by tenaciousbitch

This past weekend, I went to the Springfield Antique Show (i.e. ) in Springfield, Ohio)…where you can buy everything from collectible china and collectible toys to homemade bread to antique furniture, knock-off purses, used books, jewelry, posters of Elvis, original artwork, and a whole lot more.

Here’s a few photos from the event to give you an idea if you’ve never been to one of these outdoor extravaganzas…


I love antiques, and probably 1/3 of the furniture in my house came from Springfield, including this lovely wardrobe that we refinished:


And I SOOOOOOOO need this couch:


But, alas, they were asking $3900, and I arrived with only $50. Sigh…I realize a lot of people may find the sofa above rather gaudy, even ugly, but I LOVE it. They re-upholstered it with Brazilian cow hide! I know…I’ll be hearing from PETA tomorrow, but what’s new? 🙂

Anywho…I did buy something rather cool. It’ll have to fight the cats for the mice in the garage though. You guessed it! I bought a snake as my title suggests…


See? A beautiful silver cobra. Don’t hate me cuz I’m wearing a serpent…no matter how much you wanna… 🙂

Since I’m terrified of snakes, it’s rather ironic that I chose this necklace from the plethora of choices offered by the dozen or so vendors last weekend who were selling jewelry.

And when I say terrified of reptiles, I mean the totally panicked, unable to breathe, primal fight or flight variety of fear. Snakes are pretty much the only animals that induce panic attacks – other than maybe scorpions or tarantulas, but I rarely venture into their territory.

My trepidation of snakes was initiated by my brother Chad, who thought it would be funny to throw green garter snakes on his ‘lil sis when I was 6 or 7. Awesome…thanks for the nightmares, bro.

As far as real-time experiences with snakes, I once refused to move, walk or exhale until my first husband, Frank, had slain a rather harmless black snake, which is another garter snake, an herbivore, I believe, who poses no threat to humans regardless of its menu choices.

We had gone to an outdoor wedding at the edge of a lake in Michigan, and I was pregnant with my son, Drew, at the time, about 2-3 weeks away from my due date.

During my pregnancy, I was afraid to drink soda or go visit a certain relative whose house always smelled of bleach, much less – walk past the very path where a snake could’ve whipped around and bit me?! I THINK NOT.  Hello…don’t f#ck with the mother bear, after all?

So, I ordered Frank to kill the poor beast, who could’ve been someone’s mother itself for all I knew. Frank plucked one of his hunting knives from a holster (or whatever it’s called) on his leg  and sliced the black snake in half with one strong swing, akin to a karate chop.

And as I recall, the damned thing was nearly 6 feet long, so I thought it was a water moccasin – though he swore that garter snakes do get that long.

“Poppycock,” I said, the ever the paranoid parent to be. Frank laughed at me, but I didn’t care. Maybe it wasn’t a water moccasin…but I wasn’t betting mine or my child’s life on it.

So, not only did I coerce Frank into murdering what might’ve been an innocent creature, but I made him throw one half in the water…and he tossed the tail portion in the weeds a good 20 feet away. Yes, I was indeed freaked out, LOL.

That said, why do I find the necklace so fascinating, given my obvious loathing of snakes? It’s silver. It’s weird and cool. Interesting combo, n’est-ce pas? It’s also unique, and it’s totally ME…:)

So, God forgive me for forcing Frank to assassinate a reptile who probably feared us more than we did him and probably meant us no ill will. And please don’t turn my necklace into some sort of demonic talisman bent upon axing me like the deluge of horror movies Hollywood churns out…that’s just so tired…:)


TenaciousBitch and her band of truth-spouting hippies…


Post 98 – The anniversary of a tragic death that still haunts me…

Posted in Family, marriage, Motherhood, nonfiction, parenting, true stories, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2013 by tenaciousbitch

I realize some folks may be tired of hearing about my mother, but I can’t help but note that today is the 6th anniversary of her death. I had just walked into my parents’ home in West Virginia after a long day of sitting by Mom’s bedside while listening to Nana grumble ALL DAY LONG about stupid crap like how my brother Danny constantly leaves dirty kitchen towels on the counter instead of hanging from the wooden towel rack beside the sink, and he occasionally had the audacity to drop them on the floor and NOT pick them up. Typical Danny. The laws/rules of man and the universe don’t apply to him, and that includes simple courtesy.

My mother/Nana’s oldest daughter and ONLY living child was DYING, and I had to constantly remind her (Nana) that though Mom was in a coma, she didn’t want to hear about Danny’s slovenliness or how much beer Dad was drinking!

His wife of 48 years was hours away from the END, you old WIND BAG. And we all know/KNEW what a slob Danny was. The solution to that problem would’ve been to kick his sorry ass out the minute he arrived upon Mom and Dad’s doorstep, but I didn’t have any say in that.

So, after all that, I was on my way to take a shower when Danny called from the hospice facility to say that Mom had passed. And he didn’t know what to do. Did he need to stay there and arrange for the transportation of her body? Did he need to collect her things, or could he just go. I told him to ask one of the nurses, and I’d be right there because I knew he was in no condition to drive. Danny’s an asshole, but Mom’s death hit him like a Mack truck falling from outer space.

I remember walking into Mom’s room and seeing Danny sitting there. He was teary-eyed, but he was more in shock, I think. I gave him an awkward hug, and he just continued staring at her.

“I heard her,” he said.

“You heard her what?” I asked, trying not to look at Mom’s ghastly expression. Her mouth was open wide and long as if she were at the dentist, but I knew it was really that she’d been frozen that way attempting to hold onto her last breath, which he confirmed.

“I heard her die, she took a deep breath, a crackly kind of breath,” he sputtered, “And then, she was gone. She was just gone…” he voice was swallowed by a bout of sobbing.

I put my arms around his shoulders briefly, trying not to break down, and said, “Come on. They said they’d take care of everything. We just have to let them know which funeral home.”

Danny nodded, and I took my last look at my mother at 7:38 PM on May 23, 2007 – almost, to the minute, obviously, on this date six years ago.

She was a beautiful woman, a kind woman, and losing her altered my life forever in ways I could never imagine. I love you, Mom, and I feel privileged to have known you, and this is how I’ll always remember you…

MOM AND I GOING TO THE PREMIERLooking happier than I’d seen her in years when I took her to the premiere of We Are Marshall in Huntington, WV, at the Keith Albee theatre about six months before she died…she was already eaten up with cancer, but you’d never know it by the spark in her eye and jump in her step.

Wish you were here, Mom. I know you’d love the new shoes I just bought, and you’d be excited to see how well your grandsons are doing.

So, to all those who haven’t spoken to your Mom in awhile, pick up the phone, hop in the car/get on a plane and go see/talk to her before it’s too late – because you never know which one is going to be the last conversation. The last thing my mother told me before she died was how proud she was of me, and when I’m having a crappy day – that always comes back to me…

~Ciao for now…


POST 89 – Life’s too short, and then you die with bubble gum in your HAIR…:)

Posted in Family, humor, memoir, mysteries, nonfiction, relationships, true stories, true stories, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2013 by tenaciousbitch

My mother died in 2007, which I’ve mentioned 2734 goats’ worth of times. My husband, Charlie, and I cleaned out her house because we couldn’t afford a cleaning service. And I heard him HOWLING with laughter not long after he started emptying the kitchen cabinets.

“Oh, my God, you’ve gotta see this,” Charlie bellowed.

I sail into the kitchen to find these little spongy things spilling out of a rather tiny drawer:


Yes…they are, in fact, Styrofoam meat trays. Yes, the packaging that hamburger, pork chops, steaks etc., live in, so to speak, until we buy them at your local grocer. Spongy trays that most people just toss into the rubbish. And there were literally, DOZENS of them squashed into a drawer big enough to hold 9 pencils and two glasses of water. Later, Max counted them for shits and giggles. There were 29 of various sizes.

Why the hell- did Mom keep them? To what end? Did she use them to make hats? Did they make good insulation for the drawers? Heaven forbid, please tell me, she DIDN’T REUSE THEM!?

Wait, no, knowing Mom, she collected them like UPC codes!! She was supposed to ship them to Logan Packing Company along with some rebate form for cash or mega coupons for GROUND ROUND…and she forgot…

OR – is this a side effect of TOO MUCH RETAIL THERAPY, perhaps?

Because the GOATS told her to? No, goats are herbivores…

Sorry. I’m just the wolf’s assistant (or something like that), hired to haul away junk. And I don’t think the ghosts did it. They’ve got too much to do in the creepy cellar with the dirt floor in the basement (YES, my parents’ house totally had a creepy cellar with ONE dusty window)…

Alas, we may never know the scandalous mystery of the meat tray STASH as it were…SO…

Or WAIT! I KNOW – did SOMEONE else put them there? JETHRO or was it BOB Lebowski?? Jeff, you know, what’s his name who lives in Santa Monica, plays guitar and forgets to cut his hair…yes, Jeff BRIDGES. No, he’s busy planning his takeover of the White House.

I don’t know what else to say…except…

LIFE’S TOO SHORT, and then you die with gum in your hair and raw MEAT china in your drawers.

Luv you, Mom…

HIPPIE Love and peace out TO ALL and to all a good NIGHT,

TENACIOUS BITCH and her band of truth-spouting hippies

PLEASE NOTE: ALL MATERIAL/haiku poems/prose/suggestions for better hygiene/true stories, etc. created and posted by TENACIOUS BITCH has been copyrighted by yours truly, Tenacious BITCH.

© Tenacious Bitch 2013

Blog #46 – My Bad Influence…

Posted in Family, humor, nonfiction, relationships, true stories, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2012 by tenaciousbitch

One sultry night in late July (circa 1981) when I was 15, I was hanging out with my friend, Sally, and Danny*, in the basement of my parents’ house. We were watching MTV when we hit a BUMP in our Friday night revelry.

“This is the last beer, guys,” I said, cracking opening the last Stroh’s from my stash.

“Seriously? I thought you’d gotten more than that?” Danny asked rather perturbed.

“‘Fraid not.” I had a system for stealing beer. Dad bought a six-pack every night and a 12-pack on weekends, but he was rarely able to stay awake past the fifth beer. So, once he passed out snoring in his recliner, I would snatch one or two and hide them in a cooler in the basement behind the water heater. As long as I didn’t take more than two, Dad never noticed. Then, we’d drink them on weekends after Mom and Dad had gone to bed, but this particular weekend, Dad was out of town.

“We need to buy more,” I said. It was past midnight, and, of course, none of us had a driver’s license…but I had a plan…“Since Sally has her Learner’s Permit now,” I said, smiling.

“Really?” Danny said, an ornery glint in his eye.

Sally nodded, smiling. “But I can’t take the test for my actual driver’s license until November. But,” Sally’s said, her blue eyes twinkling, “We’re just going to Kroger, which is only about a mile, right?”

“If that,” I said.

“Let’s do it,” Danny said, grinning.

“But you’re getting the keys,” I said, aiming a purposeful look at Danny.

“Okay,” he replied with that wild-eyed GRIN of his.

Sally and I stood in the hallway watching as he crept into the master bedroom where Mom was sleeping rather heavily by the sound of her snore, luckily with her back to us. My heart was thrashing in my chest, and my palms became mushy with sweat. I wiped them on my jeans and took a deep breath.

Just as Danny leaned down to grab her purse, one of the floorboards creaked. He popped upright, his terrified eyes bouncing back at me. She didn’t move, so I beckoned him to continue with a wave of my hand. He studied Mom for a second then he yanked her gigantic purse off the floor without making a sound.

I shut the bedroom door and turned on the hall light. Danny handed me her purse, and I started plucking through the JUNK in her bag: wads of coupons, Kleenex, newspaper clippings, her compact, lipstick, a bag of peanuts, a scarf, a screwdriver, a notebook, a wrench, a dozen ink pens, a can of Raid (really?) a pack of Pall Malls and a lighter and even an extension cord. Seriously? Why?

“My God, what DOESN’T she have in there? What’s she gonna do with a wrench?” Sally mused. “I doubt she even knows how to use one.”

I laughed as I finally laid my hands on her keys. I closed up mom’s pocketbook, holding it out to Danny with a mischievous grin,”Your purse, sir?”

With an annoyed look, he opened the door and slid Mom’s handbag over by her bed and closed the door softly.

I spent the next hour getting gussied up.  After donning a tight blue dress, I stood frowning at myself in the mirror. My eyes were heavily tarred in mascara, and my face was layered with enough of Revlon’s finest to rival the local PROS, now trolling the downtown alleys for Johns

I turned around to Sally. “Twenty-two at least,” she replied.

I grimaced. “No, I think I need more mascara.”

“No you don’t,” Danny sputtered. “You look good enough to turn a gay man. Let’s go. You look fine.”

I tossed him a skeptical look and decided my current ensemble would have to suffice. We snuck out the back door into the balmy night and the sound of a thousand crickets chirping.

“Saddle up,” I said, handing Sally the keys, and we all hopped into Mom’s goose shit brown Pontiac. Sally drove 22 miles per hour, though there wasn’t ONE soul on the road.

“Good Lord, Grandma, step it up a little,” I said . “Speed Limit’s 30.”

“Okay, but not a millimeter past 30. A cop could be hiding anywhere along this road.”

“All right,” I said, rolling my eyes, knowing both the county cops were probably at the Donut Shack down the road…

“All right. Wish me luck,” I said when we reached  Kroger, our closest grocery.

I glanced at the huge clock by the entrance that read 1:48 (AM) then nonchalantly sashayed into the beloved beer aisle. I chose a case of Natural Light. The only cashier working was 80 years old if he was a day. He was maybe five foot tall, and his HUGE black glasses seemed to squash his shiny, bald head.

“Is that all you need, Miss?” asked the old cashier.

“Yeah, that’s it,” I said smiling while thumbing through the cash in my wallet to avoid eye contact with the old man. I’d found on prior occasions if I didn’t look my target  in the eye, I was less likely to get carded.

“That’ll be four dollars and 92 cents.”

I handed him a ten dollar bill. He gave me my change and bagged my delicious, rotgut beer. “Thank you,” I said in a blasé tone as I pranced toward the door. Once outside, I walked BRISKLY to Mom’s Pontiac and slid in beside Sally, who flashed a sweet GRIN.

“Any problems?” Danny asked.

“Nope,” I replied as Sally started the car.

“You’ll have to cut the lights before pulling into the driveway,” I instructed when we began to climb the hill to my parents’ house.

“Okay,” Sally answered hesitantly.

“The lights might wake her up,” Danny said. “Lights from the driveway shine right into her and Dad’s bedroom.”

Sally nodded, taking a deep breath as she pulled into the driveway and switched off the lights. She stopped a good two feet from the side porch.

I stepped out, quickly surveying her parking skills. The car looked as if if were parallel to the yard in a straight line. “Good job,” I said, giving Sally the high five.

Once we were stretched out on the couch in the basement, and I handed everyone a beer. Danny found an old Hitchcock movie on cable. Around 4 a.m., we slurped the last of the Natty Light and went to bed.

At the butt crack of 11 a.m., Danny came charging into my room, babbling about the Pontiac, but my thick-headed hangover prevented me from interpreting his rant.

Sally and I clumsily sat up on our elbows. I turned to her and said, “What’s he talking about?”

She shook her head.

“Mom knows we took the car! You parked the car like five FEET from the sidewalk!”

“Oh, shit,” I mumbled. “How do you know? What’d she say?”

“Is she really pissed?”

“I don’t know. She’s acting all weird about it.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, just as Mom appeared in the doorway behind Danny in her baggy polyester pants and her toilet paper turban. Um, yeah, in order to keep her quasi-bouffant hair in place, Mom slept with toilet paper wrapped around her hair with bobby-pins, and sometimes she didn’t toss the turban until later in the afternoon.

“Morning, Mom,” I said, trying to sound calm.

“Who MOVED my car?” Mom snapped.

“We um, uh, went out for a frozen pizza.”

“Pizza?! What the hell were you thinking?”

I said nothing.

“Neither of you have a license! Who DROVE my car?”

“Sally did, but-” I replied.

“I knew it! You’ve been a problem since the day you were born Sally Anne Harvey, and you are a BAD INFLUENCE on my DAUGHTER!”

Danny’s eyes went wide, and he cupped his hand over his mouth to keep from laughing.

“Mom! It was MY IDEA, not HERS!” I shouted.

“No, you’re just saying that to protect Sally!” Mom screamed, the veins in her neck pulsing so hard it looked like it might just SPLINTER/explode right out of her skin.

“No, I’m NOT!”

“Mom, it’s true. It was Kennedy’s idea,” Danny interjected.

Mom shook her head, “Nope, don’t believe it for one second. Get dressed, Sally. I’m taking you home right this minute!” Mom hollered stomping out of the room.

Sally and I both busted out laughing. “What did I do?” Sally asked.

“I have no idea. But we’ve never gotten in trouble before,” I answered. Luckily, Sally was not the type of person to hold a grudge, much less a grudge for what your MOTHER did or said.

“I just don’t understand old people. Some kids might lie to save their best friend, but Danny backed me up.”

And little did Mom know, that wasn’t the last of MY CLANDESTINE CAPERS…two years later, Sally and I stole another car…only this one was owned by Hertz… 🙂 And, yes, procuring the rental car and taking off to parts unknown was TOTALLY my idea… 🙂

Luckily, we WEREN’T hauled in front of any juvenile court or were EVER sent to any kind of juvenile center for our misdeeds…

STAY TUNED, BOYS AND GIRLS, there will definitely be MORE chaos to follow…

Over and out from Kennedy’s Beer GARDEN…


* See  for the 411 on Danny, who unfortunately, is an addict and a career criminal.

© Kennedy Smith 2012

As my mother lay dying…

Posted in Family, friends, nonfiction, relationships, true stories, true stories, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2011 by tenaciousbitch

On May 3, 2007, my world as I knew it, was irrevocably altered with the utterance of one sentence.

My husband, Charlie, was between jobs at the time. He’d been unemployed for 6 weeks, and was scheduled to start a new job at Metropolitan Insurance in a couple of weeks. Of course, whenever money was tight, something always broke. This time as we stretched our budget to the point of piano wire thin, the dishwasher’s innards imploded with a CA-KINK the day I received the life-shattering phone call.

I was helping Charlie finish installing the new dishwasher we’d had to buy (oh, good, more debt heaped upon on our already top-heavy Visa) when the phone rang.

I looked at the caller i.d., surprised to see it was my parents’ number. Mom rarely called these days. She usually emailed.

“Hi, Mom, how’s it goin’?”

“Honey, it’s your dad,” he replied in a really strained tone.

I think my dad has called me twice in the 20+ years since I moved out when I was 18. So, I was immediately concerned. “What’s wrong, Dad?”

“Dammit,” Charlie sputtered in the background. He had dropped a screw down inside the mechanism of the dishwasher. An important screw, the one that secured the inside of the dishwasher to the framework of our kitchen counter.  He leaned inside the dishwasher, fishing around in the hole in the bottom of it where all the water drains out.

“It’s your mother. She has cancer,” Dad said softly.

“Oh, my God. How bad is it?” I asked, barely able to speak as new tears dampened my eyes.

Lung cancer. Bone cancer. Cancer and more cancer. Such ugly words to hear on a beautiful, spring day. The doctors gave her two months’ at most to live because it had now metastasized to her liver.

Mom and Nana flew back to West Virginia a week later, which is where Mom was born and raised (and where my brothers and I grew up as well).

I picked them up at the airport. The next day, Mom was admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital, and they did what they could to make her comfortable. People came by to see her in droves, her sorority sisters, relatives from three different states, dozens and dozens of friends.

But some people stood back away from Mom, giving her sidelong glances, just talking to me, watching Mom talk to my son, Rory, who was 21 at the time. But they didn’t actually speak to her, which really annoyed me.

I didn’t want to make a fuss because I know it’s difficult for a friend of 4o+ years to wrap his/her brain around the idea that such a beautiful soul who was only 71 years old was going to slip away from us so soon. But I wanted to shout, “She’s still here! And death isn’t contagious!”

But I didn’t.

Two days later, with Mom’s approval, she was transferred to a hospice facility near the hospital. It was quieter there, and the nurse said it would be easier to manage her pain meds there because it took TEN hours for the on-call oncologist to sign the order to switch her to Morphine instead of Delaudid, which gave her a terrible rash.

Dad had driven from their condo on the border of Georgia and Florida, and the traffic had been sluggish through several construction zones in South Carolina. And an accident had detoured him off I-77 onto a heavily traveled back road in North Carolina because of a lethal spill from a truck of some sort, so it took him two, almost 3 days to get back to WV. He finally arrived her first day at the beautiful hospice house. The next day, Mom slipped into a coma.

She had been unconscious for several days when the doctor warned us that she could go at any time. I tried to say my goodbyes, to tell her how much I loved her and what a great MOM she was, but I couldn’t because Nana Maude (my mother’s mother) was there, complaining the afternoon away…

“And he pees all over the damned floor, stinks to high heaven. You can smell it halfway down the hall,” Nana chirped angrily.

She was talking about my Dad. Nana had moved in with Mom and Dad about 3 years before Mom got cancer, and she made sure everyone and anyone within earshot knew how unhappy she was that she’d had to move in with them after my mother’s sister died in 2004. Nana was 92 at the time and not able to take care of herself anymore.

I was staring at a tug boat lazily lulling down the river as we sat in rocking chairs on the porch off the room where Mom lay dying not five feet away. It was a blistering HOT day, around 90 degrees as I recall, which is really warm for May.

All I wanted to do was wake Mom up and ask her if she wanted to go swimming. If she could talk, I’m sure she’d smile and say what a great idea that was. She would’ve played along as though the grim reaper wasn’t the next name on her dance card.

Dad had gone home to take a shower. We were all pretty weary at this point. Mom had only found out she was terminal 16 days prior.

“Have you talked to Dad about this?” I asked, not that I really wanted to know if Nana had broached the subject of Dad’s lack of aim in the loo.

“Your father…” she began, and then Nana looked at me with those SHARP blue eyes and said, “You know, I didn’t approve of your mother marrying your father.”

I couldn’t speak. I merely gasped, trying to suppress the fireball of emotion bursting at the seams of my heart.

“Excuse me. Need to, the bathroom,” I managed to mumble. I rushed into the ladies room that was to the left of Mom’s bed, practically hyperventilating from trying to hold back a storm of sobs. I sank onto the toilet wept in silence for a minute or 2 until the sobs broke free in clunky bursts. I didn’t want Nana to hear me for fear it would break the denial she’d wrapped herself in. She was convinced God would save my mother. I couldn’t bear the idea of comforting HER should she hear me crying in the ladies room which might destroy that lofty wish.

I didn’t confront Nana regarding those heart-crushing words she’d spoken about my saintly father until years later. And the thing is, my dad is a good man. He was a hardworking individual who retired as the Director of Engineering for Ashland Oil in 1997 after a distinguished 38-year career there. He never cheated on my mother nor would he ever considered such a thing. He was a very religious, very kind person.

He had never mistreated her in any way and never said an unkind word to her or anyone that I’m aware of – though I’m sure there were times he had bruises on his tongue in order to avoid lashing out at Nana when she felt the need to blurt out other mean-spirited comments.

For the 411 on why my Dad was such a KEEPER, check out this post: about how Dad rescued his family from homelessness at the age of 10.

My parents were happy, and they loved each other very much. And there was enough turmoil with Mom’s illness without having to deal with Nana’s bullshit.

Nana had said some awful things over the years, but I had no idea that she didn’t “approve” of my parents’ marriage until that moment.

And then…

Less than 24 hours later, Mom was gone.

And I’m sure Nana didn’t realize by negating my parents’ marriage, she was, in essence, saying she’d wished I’d never been born. I realize that’s a little bit existential for her feeble brain. But that’s how I felt at the time…

And there you have it, the beginning of the end via one sentence:

Your mother has cancer. 

And try as he might, Charlie never did find that screw that fell inside the drain in the new dishwasher. I kind of took that as a sign that things were falling apart, and no matter how hard we tried…things would never be the same.

And I was right as will be revealed as the saga goes on…:)