Shannon Bardwell: Little big woman

May 8, 2010 10:18:00 PM

Shannon Bardwell - [email protected]


Linda called from my old neighborhood. She was making a dash trip to MSU for her daughter''s honors banquet. I invited her to stay, but she had to get back to her bed. She sleeps best there, she said. 


Funny, Momma used to say that Linda "like to burn up the road," because Linda never stayed home. If anyone anywhere was going somewhere, Linda was ready to go. Now Linda wanted to stay home, in her own bed. 


Momma never wanted to stay home, not ever. We were a bit at odds about that toward the end. "Momma, gas is $5 a gallon. We can''t just ride around all day." 


"Well I can''t stay cooped up in here!" she''d say. We''d discuss what being "cooped up" meant. By the time you are almost 80 and not in good health you are supposed to be cooped up some. 


My brother, the wildlife Ph.D., planned a wildlife habitat right outside her big picture window. It would attract birds, butterflies, bees and bunnies. "That should entertain her," he said. She snapped the shades down and said, "Let''s get out of here." 


If ever there was a drive-in for seniors, Momma would have been cruising through. She didn''t have a driver''s license anymore but that didn''t stop her. I''d get calls, "Your mother is driving again."  


"I know. She''s allowed to drive the quarter of a mile to my house." I''d watch from the window as her Chevette skidded sideways in the gravel driveway. "... for now, that is." 


"Momma, Daddy would have been so easy. All he needed was a TV and a program with men chasing a ball on it." 


"I know," she''d say. 


"It didn''t even have to be color TV, maybe not even a TV, just a radio. Dad was easy." 


Momma agreed, and then, "Let''s go somewhere." 


I''d take her to the grocery store where she''d lean on the cart to maneuver around. Once at Kroger she appeared to be getting weaker and weaker. I stopped her and said, "We have to leave. You''re not doing well. Stay here and I''ll get the car." 


A nice lady that worked at Kroger agreed to watch her while I ran and got the car. I pulled up, parked in the fire lane and sprinted inside to fetch Momma. 


The nice Kroger lady was standing right where I left them but no Momma. She looked bewildered and explained, "She just took off. I couldn''t stop her." 


I finally hired a lady to ride Momma around. "You don''t have to clean, cook or do anything else. Just ride her around. It would be nice if you''d take her by the grocery store once in awhile. That''s it." 


Momma was such a little woman to be so big.

Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.