Never underestimate a mother’s ability to worry.
A mama can worry and see dangers that not only exist but make up new things to worry about.
Sometimes, a mama can just overreact when there is no reason, like mine usually does.
I am 45 years old and I have to make sure my mother knows where I am pretty much most of the day.
If I don’t, she worries. And when she worries, she usually overreacts and that leads to her taking some drastic steps.
Like she did several years ago.
I was maybe 26 years old and living several hours away from her.
My then-husband was out of town, so I did what I normally did when he was gone for a weekend: made plans with my best friend and her mom.
We had a wild and crazy night planned.
First, we went to Ruby Tuesday’s for dinner, followed by going to the bookstore at the mall.
We bought some trashy romance novels and went back to my friend’s boutique on the square to look over our goodies.
While we sat on the plushy loveseats, we decided we were greatly remiss in not getting dessert. My best friend had a key to the coffee shop next door — the owner trusted her to check on things if she was gone — so we went in and got slices of triple chocolate cake and diet Cokes to negate the calories, leaving cash and a note on the counter.
Around 11 or so, we decided to call it a night and I headed home, arriving at around 11:30 to a carport sensor light on.
I nervously made my way inside to find Pepper, the evil beagle, freaking out in her crate, letting me know someone had probably been near the patio doors.
I grabbed a knife out of the butcher’s block for protection. I’m not sure why; those knives weren’t sharp enough to cut butter.
But I had my knife and decided to leave Pepper in her crate for safety purposes while I checked the house.
I picked up the phone in case I needed to call 911. I checked it to make sure I had a dial tone. I did, and it was beeping to let me know I had a voicemail, too.
After I checked the house and found it clear, I checked the messages.
There were 49.
Forty-seven were from Mama, increasing in her worry and culminating in her anger by the last one where she heatedly declared she was calling the police.
The other two were from Granny and a dispatcher with the county emergency services.
Granny’s message said: “Sug, this is your Granny. Your mama is going crazy with worry; she has smoked four packs of cigarettes and is gone to town to get more. If you are home, please call her. She just knows you’re dead. Speaking of dead, I’m pretty sure she’s trying to a-kill me with second hand smoke.”
The lady from 911 said: “Sudie, your mother has called here worried about you. Not sure how she got this number. But she is very concerned. We have not had any calls come in that fit your description, address, or your car, but we are sending an officer out just to be sure. And when you get this, if you haven’t already, please call your mom.”
The motion sensor had turned on because a deputy had been out at my house. That made me relax some.
But to deal with the matter at hand, I had to call Mama.
Mama, who evidently just knew I was dead, and was not calling to spite her, refused to speak to me when I called.
“So, you ain’t dead,” Granny said hearing my voice.
“Well, if you was closer you may be. She would probably choke the daylights out of you. Where were you?” Granny asked.
“I was with my friends — I am 20 something years old and married, I don’t think I have to tell my mother where I am every second of the day.”
Granny snorted. “Have you met your mother? She is already as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs and she gets worse when she worries. I will tell her you are alive and well. But for the love of all that is holy — and if you love me at all — call her when you gonna be somewhere. She’s gonna drive me batty.”
A few days later, I was in court. Not because I had done something, or Mama had me arrested for running away as an adult; no, I worked in the judicial system at the time.
The judge looked over the calendar to see if all the attorneys were present and then he glanced at me. “Miss Sudie’s present,” he commented. I nodded.
“One question, Miss Sudie,” the judge began. I looked up at the bench. “Does your mother know where you are? We know where you are, but does she?”
I gulped. “How..?”
The judge smiled, “We all know, Miss Sudie. We all know.”
Apparently, Mama called more than emergency services; I am sure if the judge was listed in the phone book, she called him, too.
You’d think she would not want to embarrass her child but that does not stop her at all. She thinks embarrassing me is a good way to ensure I do what she wants.
The other day, I didn’t text her the second I pulled into my parking space at work and when I went in, I immediately got in a conversation before getting to my desk.
Within 20 minutes, she had called me four times, then my husband. She had called my child’s school to see if he had been dropped off. I knew the second I did sit down I needed to text her and let her know I was OK. She was, of course, frantic with worry. “I was about to call the law,” she texted back.
“You know, the more you do that, the more it reinforces her behavior,” Lamar commented later that evening.
I know. But it beats having a deputy show up at my door.
Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the recently e-published novel, “The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery.”