Sunday, January 27, 2013

Punintended Consequences

She’s ninety-one, has arthritic feet and a gimpy knee. “My short-term memory stinks,” she complains, as she cleans my clock in yet another game of Scrabble. She plays poker and Bingo three times a week, and is a charter member of the weekly cribbage crowd in her seniors’ building. Her friends call her Gert. I call her Mom.

Mom’s conversation is peppered with puns - a trait that runs in our family. Ask her how she feels, and Mom will reply “with my hands.” In our family, noses run and feet smell. A conversation can turn into a marathon punning competition - one that Mom usually wins.

A few years ago, Mom decided that it was time to move to a apartment building with more services and activities. The new living room was far too small for her 45-year-old sofa - a large custom piece constructed with care by my Uncle Marvin, and reupholstered several times. Mom advertised the sofa and found a buyer. But there was a minor problem. The owners of her current building had replaced the aging elevators a few years before, and the ceilings in the new elevators were only seven feet high. Her sofa would not fit! Nor was the buyer interested in carrying this monster down seven flights of stairs - even assuming that he and the sofa could negotiate the sharp turns in the stairwell. The sale fell through, leaving Mom with a dilemma. She had to get this Sherman tank of a sofa out of her apartment!

When my cousin Hilary (who is the proud inheritor of a double dose of the family pun gene) heard about the problem, she turned up at Mom’s apartment, accompanied by two hefty heroes - her older son, Jeffrey and her friend, Frank. They came well equipped for the task - Frank brandishing a circular saw and Hilary, as always, wielding her state-of-the-art digital Canon.

While Mom held court on her easy chair, serving up an endless supply of pun-gent verbal offerings - punctuated with belly laughs, giggles and snorts of amusement - Jeffrey and Frank sawed the sofa in half so that it could be carted downstairs to the trash. Hilary photographed the dismemberment in detail, and recorded the entire episode for the amusement of the many followers of The Smitten Image, her blog site.

With her out-going personality and ready wit, Mom quickly developed a circle of friends and card-playing buddies in her new building. Her only complaint was that Mondays were 'boring' - no organized card games or bingo. 

Just after the first of the year, life stopped being boring - Mom developed bacterial pneumonia. It was a close call, but she confounded the dire predictions of the medical staff and survived her illness with her punny bone intact. Yesterday, when I asked her how she was doing, Mom replied, “As I please.”

Here's to you, Mom - to many more years of doing as you please and feeling with your hands!

©2012 Phyllis Entis. All rights reserved.

A Note of Explanation: This story evolved from the prompt "My mother laughed hysterically when ..."


  1. Love it!
    The pics of your mom are wonderful...she looks so nice.
    I'm glad she beat the bug.

    1. Thanks so much, Margo. We think she's pretty special!

  2. Punderful, Phyllis! Your mom sounds great. Your writing prompt co-conspirator, Linda

  3. Old Rosenberg, an Evanston neighbor and financier, left his daughter, Jane, a Looooong red leather sofa of similar vintage and size .... she (and about 8 people) hauled that thing down stairs, into U-Haul, and north to Mineral Point, WI, where is thrives as a farm couch....your family doings remind me of so much...Hail to the bug beaters...

    1. Hail to Dr. Alexander Fleming, whose discovery of penicillin opened the door to antibiotic treatment of infections and made Mom's recovery possible!

  4. Your mom is a hoot. Her humour was very much at the forefront when I visited her during my own return home a couple of weeks back and on the phone the other day. I got a kick out of reliving the sofa dismemberment again. You were right the first time though. It was Jeffrey and Frank but Alex, as you subsequently mentioned was not there. Thanks for the linkage, Cuzzie and here's to many, MANY more years of Auntie Gertie's Pun-ishment.

    1. To paraphrase a former secretary, "A slip of the keyboard is not the fault of the mind." Thanks for catching that error. I originally remembered it being Alexander, probably because I knew that Jeffrey was away at school, but realized my error when I went to your story to link to it. Unfortunately, I didn't catch the second mention.

      I'm always prepared to take the Pun-ishment that Mom hands out - and to give it back in kind!