Ask anyone who knew her, my mother was a wild woman. She led her
life her way, dammit, and that was simply that. As she began to be "of
a certain age" she was frustrated because she was in perfect heath, had
all her faculties, but she still had to get older, and she didn’t like
So she told everyone that after age 60, she was going to subtract a
year from her age at each birthday. Sort of like Dorian Gray — except
I think my dad was the picture. In any event, when she finally did
pass away, she was 26.
At least we think she was. My dad told me that both he and my mom
were born at home in small, country houses in the Ozarks. Birth
certificates, we don’t need no stinkin birth certificates, unless, of
course, you want to get a teacher’s credential.
The local county recorders office in Cassville knew how to handle
such problems. When my mother needed a birth certificate, she simply
went to the court house and asked for one. They had only one question;
"When were you born?" Mom was quick then, too, and my dad thought that
she may have shaved a couple of years, maybe as many as five. Yep, my
mother may have been 99 years old when she died.
She also had a problem with my birthdays. She didn’t want people to
know how old I was. After all, she wasn’t old enough to have a son that
age. When it came time for my father’s 80th. We planned a big party.
All his friends (and some enemies) were there. It was a surprise party
and although he was cool with it, I noticed that he looked a bit
confused. I asked him why.
He said he really appreciated the party and all, but he was
wondering why we were making such a big deal out of his 79th birthday.
Mom’s math struck again.