And buried within all this paperwork of varying degrees of depressivity, were a few precious pieces of paper that clearly displayed my mother's completely wacko sense of humour, one that I inherited in its entirety. Now nestled safely inside a folder titled, simply, "Funny" is a collection of documents to make me—and you—chuckle.
A document titled "10 Ways to Cope with Stress" contains such useful suggestions as "Fill out your tax forms using Roman Numerals" and "When someone says 'have a nice day', tell them you have other plans".
An early draft of a parody newsletter she wrote for the hospital she worked for in my youth contains the note "This is only a parody. If this were an actual newsletter you would have been instructed not to laugh". The newsletter contains an item on new area healthcare services that reads thusly: "Psychiatrist M.T. Head and Dr. Lou Spowels, a proctologist, have recently opened the North Coast Odds and Ends Clinic. According to a spokesperson for the clinic, they offer top-to-bottom medical care." The Staff Development Calendar contains upcoming seminars and trainings, including "Diagnosis and treatment of excessive nose hair", "Forty fun things to do with a stethoscope", "Conversational Pig Latin", and "Change: What It Is and How To Avoid It".
Another piece of paper offers vocabulary words and tips for healthy living: "Momentum: What you give a person when they are going away." "Vacuum: A large, empty space where the pope lives." "To remove dust from the eye, pull the eye down over the nose." "For fainting: Rub the person's chest or, if a lady, rub her arms above the hand instead. Or put the head between the knees of the nearest medical doctor." "To keep milk from turning sour: Keep it in the cow."
IMPORTANT DATES TO KEEP IN MIND
January 5, 1996: Nasal Polyp Swap Meet in Great Schnaz, NV
July 12: Birthday of Dr. Louis Pasteur, Inventor of the Cow Pasteur
August 8, 1996: Annual Colonoscopy Inservice in Bender, NV
Artificial insemination is when the farmer does it to the cow instead of the bull.
Mushrooms always grow in damp places and so they look like umbrellas.
Water is composed of two gins, Oxygin and Hydrogin. Oxygin is pure gin. Hydrogin is gin and water.
The best thing in this folder, however, the thing that had me calling my father to ask questions, was this 8x10 glossy photo. In case you can't read the inscription it says, "For Nancy—With fond remembrances of our many nights together. Irving "Fatboy" Hambutt"
I don't know who this man is, though he looks vaguely familiar. The name and description didn't ring a bell for my dad, so I emailed the picture to him. I can't wait to find out if he knows who this is and what it's about.
It's things like this that make me, as an adult, acutely aware of the relationship I've missed out on. My mom seems cool as hell, and I never got to know her, not even a little bit. I think I really would have liked her. I think she would have liked me.
UPDATE: My friend's husband, who is amazing, knowledgable, and very well connected, says that "the tape around his wrists almost certainly means he's a wrestler…his name is 'gimmicky', which means he was probably a bad guy." He's going to ask his wrestling communities if anyone's ever heard of him. I can't wait to find out what comes of this.