The Snap That Brings My Mother Back

She has been dead a long time, my mother, more than a quarter century, and I still think of her often. Certain sights, songs, and sounds tend to bring her back, like the explosion that comes from snapping a freshly laundered towel.

I’ll bring up a basket of towels from the laundry room, not thinking about my mother at all, and plunk the basket on the bed, ready to fold. I’ll pick up a bath towel, grab two corners, and whip the towel like a headbanger at a Metallica concert.


And there she is, my mother, next to me. I see her holed up in that tiny laundry room in my childhood home, a room right off the kitchen, with pine-slatted saloon doors and walls a bilious green. Sounds of one towel after another, and T shirts too, thundered from that room about every day (there were six kids, after all), and we knew Ma was doing what she loved best, taking care of us kids.

Better yet were the days she dried the towels in the summer sun. The crispness of those snaps, the pureness of them, stays with you long after the sun sets and the years have moved on.

Eventually Ma would push through the doors, two stacks of towels folded in her arms just so, the doors fluhfluhfluhflupping behind her. A smile and a wink to her children and she is gone, much too soon.

So there I’ll stand now, snapping one towel after another, and I’ll fold the towels the way the mother of this home likes them, stack them neatly, and carry them upstairs for our own family to use. By that time my mother’s memory has faded, temporarily, awaiting another load of wash.

R.I.P, Wolfgang, You Were a Great Companion

Oh, how Wolfie loved an open briefcase.

We had to put a pet down recently, a horrible event under the best of circumstances. Wolfgang, or Wolfie, was a ridiculously handsome cat, black, shiny, strong, with a sphinxlike face and a loving personality.

Earlier in life than he should have, he developed acute and then chronic kidney failure. The vet prescribed subcutaneous fluid infusion three times a week, a procedure called hypodermoclysis. I had given tens of thousands of cc’s of fluid intravenously over my years as a nurse, so I took on that task at home.

We gave him several rounds of subcu fluid, but he reacted more and more violently as time went on, and why wouldn’t he? Hypodermoclysis is a painful, drawn out procedure that effectively blows up the fatty area on a cat’s neck to three or four times its natural size.


There was no other valid option for therapy, though we did try a low-protein diet for a while, but in the end we decided that we weren’t going to torture this poor guy three times a week for the rest of his life only to have him slowly waste away and die anyway. We would give him all the love we could, while we could, and let nature take its course.

That course finally ended when our favorite vet, Jim, gently, professionally, and compassionately euthanized Wolfie, just as he had euthanized three other beloved pets in the past. He came into the exam room, took one look at the waiflike cat on the table and said, “Poor little guy. He’s had enough.”

It was difficult, but we knew in our hearts that Jim was right, that Wolfie had indeed had enough. He died silently, calmly. I thanked Jim for his help, loaded the cat into the car, and drove him home for burial in our back yard, right next to Katie, Max, and Lucy.

We’re down to one four-legged friend, Princess Sadie, Ruler of All Who Enter, Table Beggar Par Excellence, Holy Devotee to Queen Gay and Most Unholy Archenemy of Yours Truly.

Hoo, boy.