Learned about Retirement from my Mother and her Sister
by Jane Walker
Looking for a giggle?
I learned about retirement from my mother, Jane and her sister Ellen. They learned about it from their mother, my grandmother.
My grandmother stood all of 4’5” tall and weighed 100 pounds (if she was soaking wet). My mom grew up during the depression, my grandmother raised two girls on her own after divorcing a cruel, stingy man in spite of his business success.
She had sold girdles door to door to earn enough to open her own florist business in the lobby of the most prestigious hotel in downtown Dallas. All the movie stars stayed there when they came to town to shop at Neiman Marcus.
Grandmother was already retired when my sister and I came along. My aunt had adopted three children and my parents had adopted the two of us. I shared a bedroom with my grandmother. She loved to laugh. She would get under the covers with a flash light and tell ghost stories that always ended funny. She took care of us while our parents worked. She was always busy. Gardening was her favorite thing to do. We always had the most beautiful flower arrangements on the dinner table.
Once after losing a game to my sister I started to cry. She immediately said, “Always, dwell only on your wins. Don’t linger on the fact you lost. Let others track all that stuff; you have no need of it. If you focus on winning then you are prepared for it when it happens. If you keep track of your wins you can be pleased to add another to the list. Expect to win. If you expect it to rain, don’t you take your umbrella?”
The happiest times of my life were spent resting my head on my grandmother’s lap during her retirement. She often told me I was her reward for working so hard.
My aunt retired after working for a company for 52 years. She was a widow living in a small town east of Dallas. My mother retired after 50 years with a company. She lived in Dallas. My mother and her sister both decided to sell their homes in town and have two new homes built side by side, in a tiny farm community northeast of Dallas.
I started to challenge this decision when my mother reminded me of how grandmother felt about “should-as.” Follow your heart, you will never run out of those who are ready to tell you what you “should-a done.”
My husband and I lived in a small rent house in a tiny farm community southeast of Dallas. This worked out great for “the sisters”. The homes were finished and the sisters had moved in next door to each other.
I was called upon to take care of listening to their endless disputes (never taking sides), do anything special Momma needed; and take care of their animals while they were on the cruises and road trips. They went on a new one each year. My mother was the dramatic one. My cousin was a year younger than me and a year older than my sister. She traveled with them. The last cruise they took was for two months through Alaska.
Before cruises they drove everywhere. Every year they had gone to some place they had never been. My Aunt loved to drive so they took short road trips. My mother, the navigator, always got them lost which added to their funny stories about finding their way home.
They, like their mother, always found the funny side of almost everything. Once while on a guided tour in San Francisco my mother screamed with panic. She held her chest and screamed, “I can’t move.” The whole group stopped. Mother seemed frozen as my aunt and her daughter rushed to her. Mother could not move her legs. Suddenly, laughter erupted as she looked down and realized her panty hose had worked themselves down around her ankles.
All traveling stopped and it was my entirely fault.
What was I going to do? I had lost a bet with my sister and brought home a 3 pound, little, white pot bellied pig. I named him Hamlet. He turned out to be a real character. He loved running and romping with the dogs and even the cats. He even used the kitty box and was very clean and tidy. I wish I had known he would use a kitty box when I first brought him home. I wrestled with him for two hours trying to get a diaper on him. He suddenly stopped squealing and laid still. I thought I had won. I fastened the diaper; then he just got up and walked right out of it.
Shortly after his arrival we had a plumbing problem with our little country rental house. We called the landlord. They had been very good about repairs. The plumber came out the same day I called. I knew we were in for a treat when the pink overalls got out of the truck. He swished his way to the front door. He was a very round little man. He also let me (as if I could not figure it out) know he was gay so not to bother him with trying to be seductive or sweet to win him over for faster service. He seemed to be put out with having to deal with a woman.
He looked around and then explained that he had seen this type of problem before and felt he would have to go under the house to find the problem. He hurled several rude comments about the stupidity of women because I did not tell him all this when he got there. I kept my cool and did not respond to his insults. I just wanted the plumbing fixed. He ordered me to take all the dogs out of the back yard. I did so.
The opening to the underside of the house was small and very tight. He got stuck. He let out a yell, Hamlet came running. Hamlet took one look at that big fanny stuck in that hole and fell in love.
The plumber was yelling as Hamlet started trying to reach the poor guy with his hooves. Hamlet was only 6” tall. He weighed 4 pounds. The plumber was screaming, Hamlet was squealing, and I was standing on the back porch laughing my head off. I guess that makes me a monster, but anyone would have laughed at the scene in front of me.
Pigs have what looks like corkscrews for peters and Hamlet kept stepping on his and squealing. The plumbers pants were slowing getting tugged down. I caught a glimpse of the poor man’s butt crack and I finally fetched Hamlet and was holding him when the plumber freed himself. He looked at me and then at Hamlet. He was huffing and puffing. With one hand on his hip and a weak wrist flapping at Hamlet, “What is that?” He asked.
I told him, “I am just a stupid woman, but it looked like a pig to me, but you called yourself a plumber when you got here.”
His eyes got huge and he kept looking at me then at Hamlet. He quickly gathered his tools (without saying a word), got in his truck and left. That was only the beginning a few problems heading my way.
I have nothing against gays. I have had several very dear friends who were gay and proud of it. But this guy was so “Nelly” I had to laugh.
The Landlord called two days later and said we had to move. He said he could not send out even a skinny plumber as long we had an attack pig. I told him he would have to wait; my husband had died that morning. I would be out as soon as I could manage it.
I had to call Mother and let her know I needed to bury another husband and I was coming home with 3 dogs, 3 cats, and a pig named Hamlet.
Little did I know this would start of several funny stories about me, my mother, her sister, my cousin and a pig named Hamlet.