Friday, February 5, 2010

The Duchess and the Quaker Oats Man

If my life were a novel, my mother would be one of its most colorful characters.

We dubbed my mother The Duchess. Technically, her heraldry name is The Duchess of Do More because my mom is a whirling dervish of activity. Mom does everything at Duchess Speed and had mastered the art of the multi- task long before the baby boomers thought that they had invented it. That’s why she was recently named volunteer of the year for our state.

Mom got the nickname The Duchess when her only grandson was a baby. Frustrated by the fact that he had identified his “Pa” by name and had yet to syllabicate anything that sounded remotely close to “Grandma”, she began listening intently to his baby babble in an effort to prove that he did, indeed, have a special name for her.  One day, he pointed his chubby little finger in her direction and babbled something like “dtsstssss…”  Aha! She pounced on the moment and proclaimed that he was calling her the “Duchess”. We laughed. And the name stuck.

My nephew never did actually call her Duchess by the way. He eventually called her Grama just like all the other grandkids. The possible exception would be The Practical One, whose personal pet name for Mom, particularly in her Polish moments, is Grammooski. To the rest of us, Mom is very affectionately called either The Old Woman… or The Duchess.

Some Random Duchess Facts:

 1. It is impossible for The Duchess to sit on the passenger side of a car without sizzling. If you have a mother like The Duchess, you know without explanation that I am referring to the s-s-s-s-s-s-s sound made by sucking air over the teeth. The car sizzle is generally accompanied by the doorknob clutch, the foot thrust, and the two syllable name.

2. If you tether her hands, you tie her tongue.

3. The Duchess is loud and expressive. She has always been loud and expressive, but she is doubly so now that she has lost a good part of her hearing. Once, one of the girls’ favorite teachers mentioned that he knew how The Duchess felt about a particular hot button topic. When asked how he knew, he replied with a laugh, “Her windows were open.”

4. And regarding that hearing loss? Everyone mumbles around The Duchess. She doesn’t know why people can’t speak up anymore. And that fancy sound system at church is absolutely worthless and a waste of good money…

5. Don’t ask The Duchess for her opinion if what you really want is affirmation. After all, she was planning to give that opinion whether or not you asked…. And then you asked.

6. If there is one thing that The Duchess saves as much as the Polish Tupperware, it’s the empty coffee can.

At any given time, she will have dozens of them stashed in her utility shed. The coffee cans are multi purpose do-mores, but her favorite reincarnation is as whimsical centerpieces. She offered the use of her coffee cans as we were planning my niece’s recent wedding. She was kidding. We think.

7. The Duchess loves holidays, especially Christmas. Her 15 Christmas trees will have to be fodder for a post all their own…

And finally…

8. When The Duchess started to gray, we observed that she bore a striking resemblance to this guy:


And we told her so. We have teased her unmercifully ever since. She always laughs.

By the way, that part's not nearly as funny to me as it used to be…

1 comment:

ridge said...

Got a great giggle out of this...especially the coffee cans. Hmmm...ever wonder where the hoarding gene came from Debbie??

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