And I mean that in a good way. You’ve read my mommyism posts where I quote some of the hilariousness of living with my mother. But there was another side to her and I’ve got proof that my mother was a bad ass.

Whose Grave Am I In?

Did I ever tell you about the time my mother fell into a grave on Christmas Eve? True story. At the end of WWII, with her husband still in the Pacific somewhere, my mother went to the cemetery to leave flowers on his mother’s grave.

Her brother George took her and stayed in the car while she went to the grave. Fresh snow had fallen and that’s the reason she didn’t see the canvas covering an open grave. She fell in and couldn’t get out. She tried climbing up the side but kept falling back in. She tried calling her brother but he was in the car with the windows rolled up.

After about 15 minutes or so, George started wondering where she was and got out of the car. That’s when he heard her yelling for him and he pulled her out of the grave. A little dirty and starting to get hoarse but unhurt.

Drive Until You Can’t Anymore

At the end of the school year, we’d pack up the station wagon and head out on some trip somewhere. When I was 2, we drove across the country to California. Most times they were closer trips like to Niagara Falls or Gettysburg but when I was in 9th grade we drove down to New Orleans.

As we were traveling south, we were doing a lot of driving through the mountains. Mountain driving is not my mother’s favorite thing to do. But she would also do anything for my father. He’d been putting in long hours and was tired so he was sleeping in the back seat while mom and I were in front.

As we were traveling up the side of a steep mountain, mom was driving slower and slower. I kept urging her to drive faster because cars were piling up behind her with nowhere to go but she ignored me while she white-knuckled the steering wheel. Slower and slower we went 20 mph, 15 mph, 10 mph, 5 mph…honking horns galore.

And then the car stopped. She reached her limit of fear. And then she leaned over the backseat and said, “Joe, it’s your turn.” Dad awakened immediately, they switched places and Dad got the parade going.

Just like that. And then I realized that my mother spent the last hour confronting her fears so that she could let dad get as much rest as possible. Bad Ass!

I’m Falling For…

My mom was always falling somewhere. I mentioned the grave above and in Did You Know it’s SOB Day, I wrote about how the fire department was called to get her off the floor when she spun around too fast while setting the table. So hold that thought.

A couple of months after the fall in her living room, my mother fell in the basement. It happened on a Friday morning. She was doing laundry and there was a TV set up down there and she would sit in a folding chair watching TV while she waited for the laundry to finish. She only wanted to walk down and up the stairs once.

After the dryer buzzed, she tried to get up from the folding chair but put too much weight onto the arms and it collapsed. She went down with the chair. She couldn’t get up without assistance so crawled over to the stairs and tried to pull herself up using the handrail and the steps. No such luck.

Then she crawled back towards the dryer. There was a phone on the counter so she grabbed the cord and yanked it down. Unfortunately, she yanked too hard, ripped it out of the wall, and broke the phone. She figured at one point her neighbor would stop by and waited.

No one came by and she was getting cold and tired. The next things she did were amazing, she basically “McGyvered” a bed in the basement. She found cardboard, grabbed the garbage bag with dryer lint, grabbed the towels out of the dryer, and for good measure, pulled a bottle of water off the counter using a curtain rod she found.

She then laid the cardboard on the basement floor, put her legs in the garbage bag of dryer lint, used one towel as a pillow, and then laid the rest on top of herself to stay warm. She sparingly used the water and then lay there…until 9 am. The. Next. Day.

My brother found her when he showed up to do some work at the house. When he called for an ambulance, the same paramedics who tried to get her to the hospital when she previously fell were the same ones who showed up this time. When she recognized their voices, she simply said, “I’ll let you take me to the hospital this time.”

You’d think that after that fall, she’d want to use one of a LifeAlert. But you would be wrong. Which led to the next incident.

After the fall in the basement, she wasn’t allowed to do her own laundry anymore and she started walking with a cane. The problem with the cane is that when she wanted to use both hands she would hook it on whatever nearby counter or table was available and then walk away without it.

This is what happened around 2 or 3 in the morning one day. She turned to walk away without her cane, got dizzy because she turned too fast, and fell backward. This time she was in the kitchen, holding a glass of water, and when she fell, she hit her head on the table, the glass broke on the floor, and she blacked out.

When she came to, she was on her back, which meant she couldn’t get up. She grabbed the cane and used it to start pushing herself across the kitchen floor so she could get to the phone. As with the last time, she got too excited and pulled the phone down so hard that it hit the floor and broke.

There was one more phone. In her bedroom. She had to push and pull herself down the hallway which was carpeted. The going was slow. She took her cane and hooked it on the door handles in the hallway and used it to help pull while she was pushing with her legs.

About an hour after she started from the kitchen, she reached her bedroom. This time she gently pulled her phone closer to her until she was able to grab it from her nightstand and call her neighbor. Imagine how she felt when she unlocked the kitchen door and found broken glass and blood all over the floor.

And that’s when my mother finally agreed to the Life Alert.

That Was Nothing, Just a Heart Attack

If the above doesn’t convince you she was a Bad Ass, let me tell you about the time she danced off a heart attack–at my wedding.

You read that right. The day before my wedding my mother had a heart attack at the bridal shop. She convinced everyone it was just severe angina pain, took her medicine, and swore everyone to secrecy because she didn’t want my day ruined.

The next day, she danced at my wedding. She didn’t just dance a slow waltz and sit down. She danced Polkas around the dance floor with my father and another with my brother Jon.

My brother dancing with my mother at my wedding

Five years later, just before she had her triple bypass, her doctor looked at an x-ray of her heart and said, “You’ve already had a heart attack.” My mother agreed and told him the exact date.