Mother is always right

Thursday 17 July 2014 — Homeport: Falmouth Harbor — Anniversary of the 1918 execution of Czar Nicholas II

On St. Nicholas Day, 6 December, 1908 George “Baby Face” Nelson was born in Chicago. On that same date, in Manhattan, Mildred Pinto was born. “Baby Face” Nelson died in a hail of FBI bullets in 1934. Parishioner Mildred Nicoletta (Pinto) Allen died peacefully at a local nursing home this month at the age of 105 years. Mildred was a celebrity in the Town of Falmouth and in the Parish of St. Patrick. 

Grandma Moses discovered late in life that she had a talent for painting. Mildred Allen, in her 90s, discovered a penchant for poetry. One of Mildred’s poems is entitled “My Mother.” It reads in part:

Mom made my dresses and curled my hair.

I’d help a little. I really did care.

Fulltime mother was her vocation,

Years went by without a vacation.

…I “see” her before me so loving and kind.

I weep for her still, I’m her motherless child.

This goes to prove, dear readers, that even if you live to be 100, you will always remember your mother and everything she taught you.

Perhaps, as a young child, your mother taught you the same things my mother taught me. And, as we all know, mother is always right. 

Didn’t mother teach you not to run with scissors? You could fall and hurt yourself. To this day, I seldom run with scissors (In fact, I seldom run at all). See, mother is always right. 

Mother taught me to wait precisely one hour after eating before going into the water. If you eat anything within 60 minutes of entering the water you will be seized with stomach cramps and doomed to a horrible death by drowning. After all, this is a scientific fact clearly stated in the 1908 manual “Scouting for Boys.” Let me put it delicately, dear readers. There has never been a single death by drowning anywhere in the world attributed to entering the water too soon after eating. There has never even been a near drowning. Need I say more?

Mother taught me that food dropped on the ground is perfectly safe to eat if it is retrieved within five seconds. It’s the “five-second rule.” Unless the floor has been sterilized (highly unlikely,) the surface is crawling with bacteria and viruses. Some will be harmful. Bacteria and viruses contaminate immediately on contact. Would you want a surgeon to use a dropped instrument on you because it was more or less sterile? I think not. There isn’t even a .01-second rule. Even if mother was a little off-base in this matter, I’m sure she was well intentioned. Mother didn’t want you to waste  food. Why, think of all the starving children in Biafra (or some other location of her choice) of which she was constantly reminding you).

Mother taught me to leave a window open during a hurricane in order to prevent pressure buildup in the house. Actually, leaving a window open will allow gusts of wind to blow into the house. The wind will then proceed to find an outlet. When it does, there go parts of your house. Well, who knew back then?

Come to think of it, my father taught me a tip for hurricane survival as well: crisscross the windows with duct tape in the shape of giant asterisks. Studies have shown that duct tape won’t prevent window glass from breaking nor will it prevent the shards of glass from flying through the air. There is, however, one proven benefit to taping the windows during a hurricane. It’s a windfall for the duct tape manufacturer. 

Mother warned me not to swallow chewing gum. It stays in your stomach for seven years. Actually, that’s not true either. When you swallow gum, it goes through the process of digestion in the same amount of time it takes real food to digest. Oh well, to give mother the benefit of the doubt, you could possibly choke by swallowing a wad of gum, but then that applies to almost anything you eat if it “goes down the wrong way.” 

Mother taught me that poinsettias are poisonous. Now here, finally, we have an indisputable fact. Everyone knows that. There is just one small problem, however. It happens to be untrue. Oh, yes, you’ll no doubt point out to me that death back in the year 1919 in Hawaii that was assumed to have been caused by the ingestion of poinsettia leaves. It was an incorrect diagnosis, but why let an erroneous assumption get in the way of what your mother told you? There is a possibility that the disgusting taste of poinsettia leaves might make you nauseous, but it won’t kill you. Scientific testing on animals gave up at the ingestion of 600 leaves and no animal was harmed in the process. 

You know me, dear readers. I’m a stickler for accuracy in everything I write. So, allow me to qualify the title of this column: Mother is always right (except when she isn’t). 

Anchor columnist Father Goldrick is pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Falmouth.

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