Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sharp Wit Cuts Deep


Welcome to another edition of Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. Be sure to visit Alex, and all of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend support. Below is a story that hints at where my insecurities all began.

                                                           Sharp Wit Cuts Deep

I'm used to hurling insults, and clever cut-ups. Yes, I am talking about my mother again, and this cutting edge story is not for the squeamish. It all began in July when my mom announced once again that I'm a "horrible daughter." I'm hoping that this story will unite other horrible daughters, but realize that this is wishful thinking, as no one has committed a more heinous act than I.

My mom and I used to have weekly outings to the beauty shop. When I began working last year, her caregiver started accompanying her for long, leisurely afternoons of billowing blow driers and near death by hairspray asphyxiation.

Now my mom doesn't have to travel farther than the second floor of her building for weekly comb-outs and blow- drys. Remarkably, during her five month stay only one stylist has quit.

Mom: She doesn't know from teasing.

Horrible Daughter: No one likes to be teased, especially about their work.

Mom: I'm talking about teasing hair. You know with a comb. Will you please try to keep up!

Her beautician for over 20 years is an expert at teasing and roughing, so she set the bar very high. The second floor stylist hasn't quite earned her trust yet, so my mom has decided to take matters into her own hands.

Mom: Bring me a pair of scissors.

Horrible Daughter: Why do you need scissors?

Mom: I don't have time for all of these questions. Dinner's in three hours. Just bring scissors, or don't bother to come.

Visions danced through my head of all the terrible things my mom could do with scissors, because she has Parkinson's Disease, and her hand shakes. She could cut her finger, or drop the scissors on the floor and step on it while she's scooting around in the wheelchair. Another scenario involved unknowingly dropping it on the bed and bleeding to death in her sleep. So I hatched a plan.

On my next visit, instead of greeting me with, "Hello my precious daughter," the first words out my mom's mouth were, "Did you bring me the scissors?"

I smiled and handed her my boys' safety scissors with curved edges from 1992. They looked brand spanking new. My mom was not happy.

The subject of scissors didn't come up again until about a month later when she asked me to get something out of her nightstand drawer. I discovered a larger pair of contraband scissors with squared off edges for cutting bandages.

Horrible Daughter: Where did you get these?

Mom: The nurse gave them to me.

Horrible Daughter: No she didn't. You stole them.

Mom: I did not steal them. She left them in my room.

Fortunately, there was no sign of a shiv under her bed.

Recently, my mom brought up the scissors again when she decided that the stylist couldn't be trusted, and she was going to give herself a haircut.

It was a beautiful Saturday, so my husband and I took my mom for a long walk to a shopping center about a mile away. She loves to shop, and even found a cute top with a gift card from her grandsons. After dinner, we walked back to her room.  Then she said, "Did you bring me the scissors?" When I replied, "No," she didn't take it well.

Mom: It's the only thing I asked you to do.

Horrible Daughter: You can't give yourself a haircut. You could poke your eye out.

Mom: I'll be fine. I never complain about anything. It's the one thing that would make me happy...

I started to gather her clothes from the hamper to take home to wash.

Mom: Don't wash my clothes. Don't ever do anything for me again.

She said goodbye to my husband, and not one word to me.

A few days later our cousins went to visit my mom, and they offered to bring her anything she wanted. They suggested bringing cookies, candy, anything at all. My mom didn't want to be a bother, but she thought she was low on Kleenex, as she was down to four boxes. Hence, they brought her some emergency Kleenex.

Then I asked why she didn't tell them she needed scissors, and she replied, "You know I should have. I forgot all about it."


  1. I like the name "Horrible Daughter". It captures her feelings about her relationship to her mother so perfectly. I could probably write something about me with the character name "Horrible Mother."

  2. The saga continues. Mine ended a few years ago, but you refresh my memory of those years each time I visit your site. I'm not sure if I should thank you or not, but you do bring comfort. I'm not alone as the Horrible Daughter.

  3. I think my name would be, "Horrible Person." I enjoyed the story though. You had me the whole way through and I didn't skim one single time. :)

  4. Your mother's right -- teasing and backcombing are not what they used to be. Guess no one wants to be closer to God anymore (as in "the bigger the hair, the closer to God" LOL)

  5. Your mother is a riot. I love your line about the shiv :)
    I think I enjoy your mother stories so much because I lost mine at an early age. Does that make me a mother voyeur?

  6. Oh my. At least she forgot. I'm on the other side of the country, so it would be extremely difficult to be the horrible daughter. Distance makes the heart grow fonder. Regardless, I'm grateful that I do have a good relationship with her. She's a bit of a pessimist and can get to be too much sometimes, but she did raise 8 kids, 1 of them special needs, and she did it while Dad was working 10+ hour days. I figure she's earned her angel wings.

  7. I'm guessing those scissors have so much to do about control, and how she is losing hers. Frustration is talking, not your mom.

  8. I hope she doesn't remember too soon.

  9. Alex - Let's keep our fingers crossed! Thanks for hosting another great IWSG!

    Tamara - I'm sure that you're a wonderful mother! I always worry that my kids will remember me as a horrible mother one day. Thanks Tamara!

    Lee - You're such a trooper for coming back and reading these stories. I can't imagine how difficult it's been for you. I hope in some way you do find comfort in them. Thanks Lee!

    Empty Nester - I'm honored that you didn't skim! We all have days where we feel like we're a horrible person. Well at least many of us do. I'm sure your good days outweigh the bad, and you're your own worse critic. Thanks EN!


  10. Debra - Have you met my mom? You've described her perfectly! I still haven't been able to part with my semi-high hairdo, but the only teasing involved is behind my back. Thanks for the laughs. Debra!

    Carol - I'm so sorry that you lost your mom at an early age. It's such a difficult loss at any age. I'm glad that you could laugh at these things. I know your mom would be very proud of you. Thanks Carol!

    Crystal - It does sound like your mom's earned angel wings! Wow, you probably have some great stories being raised in such a large family. Thanks Crystal!

    Liza - Oh, my mom definitely has control issues which is understandable after all she's been through, but in this case it really was about the scissors. You are very perceptive, but it's all about the hair. Thanks Liza!

    Jo - I always worry if I go too long without getting in trouble about something! Thanks Jo!


  11. Hi Julie - oh gosh ... your mother is 'a real trial' - you'll laugh later on when the stories can come pouring out in your words ... but a real trial now though ...

    I am so grateful I didn't have this sort of experience - a few difficulties ... but ultimately I was extraordinarily lucky ... but you make me smile! Good luck and cheers Hilary

  12. >>... I don't have time for all of these questions. Dinner's in three hours.

    HORRIBLE DAUGHTER, that made me laugh out loud. As a lifelong bachelor, nearly everything I make for myself is microwaved. So, when it first dawns on me that I'm getting hungry, "Dinner's in 33 seconds."

    >>... You can't give yourself a haircut. You could poke your eye out.

    Gee, you might as well have told her, "No, you can't have a 'Red Ryder' carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!"

    No wonder she thinks you're a Horrible Daughter, with you running around saying "You'll poke your eye out, kid."

    You crack me up, GEM "Horrible Daughter" JULIE. Keep 'em coming. And start compiling these "Horrible Daughter" stories for a book. No kidding, there's a big seller in this idea.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

  13. Hi, Julie!

    Brings back memories.... I was the HORRIBLE SON..... When my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I took care of him until the end.... need I say more. Not fun...

    At least you mom is healthy and happy in her own way.... even without the TEASE and scissors....

  14. Hi Hilary! I've been thinking about you, and I feel like a Terrible Blogger. I've been so busy with work that I haven't been able to keep in touch, and I really feel badly about that. You have such a wonderful attitude, and I know how much you've been through. I'm glad we could smile at what a "trial" my mom is! Thanks Hilary!

    Hi Stephen! Actually I thought of you. What I really said was that giving her scissors would be like Andy giving Barney Fife a bullet for his gun. She did not care for that at all. Hope you're eating some good microwavable food, or eat least a healthy avocado on toast sandwich once in a while. Thanks Stephen!

    Hi Michael! Good to see you! I'm so sorry about what you must have gone through with your dad. Even if he was too sick to show it, I'm sure he appreciated all that you did for him. Between the excruciating pain and medication, he probably took a lot of his frustrations out on you which wasn't fair. I can't imagine what you both went through. Sorry for bringing up these sad memories for you. Thanks Michael!


  15. Ha! GEM JULIE, I like being mentally associated with TAGS. Yeah, that Barney was a dangerous character even WITHOUT a bullet!

    As fate would have it, I just bought two 2-lb. bags of California avocados yesterday for $1.88 each. I'm livin' large, Julie!

    Did you ever wonder why the plural of "potato" is "potatoes", but the plural of "avocado" is "avocados"? Can anyone really explain the inconsistencies in the English language?

    ~ D-FensDogG

  16. I love that last line, and I love your sense of humor. Humor is sometimes the only way to get through days like this. I had similar days with my mother when she was in the nursing home. Hugs to you, Julie. Your mom is lucky to have you.

  17. Stephen - Great deal on the avocados, and you've raised a valid point. Now I'm
    gonna be up all night trying to find another example of a word that ends in os instead of oes. How about pimentos? I feel much better now! Thanks for another entertaining and educational visit Stephen!

    Connie - It's so sad when they lose their independence. Sorry you went through such a rough time with your mom. I know how lucky I really am. Thank you Connie!


  18. My mom didn't have Parkinson's but she had another ailment that caused her to shake (since she was about 30). You have the patience of Job! It's so hard when, in our relationship with parents, we become the caretakers and "authority" and have to set boundaries with them. And, it's a bit sad, because we're so used to being the child. Stay strong. You are doing what's best for her, even if she can't realize it right now. Try and remember the better times and know that God appreciates all of your hard work! I found you through the IWSG and so glad I did. I'm #256 on the list, In my own words. Have a good weekend.

  19. LOL LOL. I love that you brought the little kid scissors from 1992. I can just imagine the reaction to those.
    I hope you are able to continue to thwart your mom's efforts to cut her own hair. I have a feeling she would really regret doing that. I can still scream in horror when I remember the time I tried to not only cut but also color my hair myself.

  20. Hi Diane, It's so nice to meet you, and thanks for following me! I also appreciate your kind words, though I wish I were more patient. I'm sorry for what you went through with your mom. Looking forward to visiting your blog. Unfortunately, I've had to cut down a lot on blogging due to my busy work schedule.

    Hi Julie - I just saw my mom today, and she broke down and let the stylist at her residence cut her hair. I thought it looked good, but she didn't share my enthusiasm. I wish you would post a photo of your cut and color experience. You were adventurous for trying! Thanks Julie!


  21. Loved this post, girl! (No surprise there.) I was going to suggest you get a pro to cut your mother's hair for her, but I see in your last comment that that's already happened! Great... now you can stop worrying about the darned scissors for a while. (How fast does your mom's hair grow...?)

    I miss you, kiddo. I hope your job is going reeeeeeally well. :)

    1. Hi Susan! I miss you too. I'm sorry that my visits have been few and far between. if only there were more hours in the day! Yes, my mom finally gave in, and let the inhouse beautician cut her hair. Does her stubbourness remind you of anyone? Hope you and Smarticus are doing well! Thanks Susan!


  22. You need to write a book of Mom and Horrible Daughter dialogue, Julie. This stuff is precious and hilarious. I laughed several times, especially at "I don't have time for questions. Dinner's in three hours," and "I never complain about anything." It's all very funny.

    I hope you're well. Thanks for dropping by. It's good to see you in blogland -- feels like it's been a while.

  23. I wouldn't even trust myself with a pair of scissors to cut my own hair and I don't shake. Your mom is hilariously brave, especially since she has to put up with Horrible Daughter™.

    (Seriously, copyright that name and turn it into a book series. It would be solid gold)

  24. I used to cut my own hair all the time. Hated the idea of paying to have it cut at a hair shop. Once when I was backpacking I cut my long hair with a hunting knife. Wish I had a picture of that one because I'd like to know what kind of job I did. That was in 1974. Maybe I started the trend of shag cuts. Probably not.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  25. Hi Robyn - I'm sorry that I didn't see this sooner. Thanks for the kind words! That's quite a compliment from the queen of witty dialogue! I'm so excited about your new book! Thanks again Robyn!

    Brandon & Bryan - I love how you added the trademark to the name! I wouldn't cut my hair either, though I do trim my bangs sometimes. It would be fun if you cut each other's hair and videotaped it. Of course your wives wouldn't be too happy about it. It would be fun to turn these stories into a book...maybe someday. Thank you so much!

    Lee - That was pretty brave cutting your hair with a hunting knife! You probably did create the shag hairdo, and someone else got the credit for it. Sadly, I've had variations on the shag since I was about 12, so thank you Lee!


  26. Oh my. I can so relate to this. So much painful memories and words that still echoes til this day.

    You are beautiful and you are enough! That's what you must remember when those words start to haunt you.