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Wired Shut

While I was White Water Rafting down the middle of the Colorado River, my mother was getting surgery on her jaw. I wasn't there for the surgery so I don't know what the rest of the family was going through - only what happened once I got back. It's a memory I had forgotten long ago until my memory was jogged while writing my story about the White Water Weggie.


Dad had to do all the cooking in the house for a while. Mom was on some incredibly strong pain killers. Her jaw had been broken in two places and moved forward a quarter of an inch on both sides. The doctors said her lower jaw had stopped growing when she was about 7 years old. The surgery was necessary.



She was on a liquid diet while the wires held her jaws clamped together. She could barely mumble out the words she wanted to say, and for the first few days upon my return she had to write everything down on a notebook and have us read it. This was more than unpleasant for her. She was miserable. Even her liquid diet had to be taken with a syringe. I won't go into details about how it operated, but everything had to somehow end up behind her wired teeth.


Laughing, or even smiling, was incredibly painful for her. She smiled quite often when I was young. She still loves to laugh. This was one of the hardest tasks bestowed upon the family, not to say or do anything funny around her for a total of 6 weeks. When a family is as strange and funny as mine is, I'm sure you can imagine how often we had to walk away from her in order to stop from causing her pain at something we had thought of or wanted to say.


We all pitched in around the house. My brother and I did the laundry (except the unmentionables they hid in the bedroom until Dad had a chance to take care of them), we would cook on the occasion Dad was gone and it was just us taking care of her, but most of the time he did the cooking while she was laid up. We would get her books from the book shelf, fetch the TV remote, grab fresh pillows and blankets and just take care of her the best we could. After all, she had always done that for us when we were sick.


Mom was in the living room one day when I started to hear this gurgling scream coming from the back of her throat. I was standing in the kitchen at the time getting her a drink. I had no idea what was going on, but I went charging into the living room, full steam ahead. She sat there with tears rolling down her face holding her jaw on both sides.


"TRN IT UFF!" She screamed at me behind clenched jaws. "Trn it uff! Trn it uff!" She screamed over and over, trying to kick the TV remote over to me. She was sobbing!


Without even noticing what it was she had been watching, I switched the TV off as quickly as possible and sat down at her feet, wanting more than anything to make her feel better. She was obviously in agony.


Suddenly her eyes lit up and she giggled. That made her scream again and the tears once more rolled down her cheeks. Then she giggled again, which made her cry again. It was a wicked cycle she went through for a good ten minutes. It wasn't funny, and I hated seeing my mother in pain, but her occasional giggles made me want to giggle, which I knew would be even worse because everyone knows giggles are infectious. Finally I had to excuse myself and walk back into the other room. There, I burried my face in a hand towel and giggled to my hearts content. By the time I went back into the room, she was doing much better. She looked up at me and whimpered "I'm sorry," as best she could through the mesh in her teeth.


"What happened?" I asked innocently enough. I shouldn't have. At the mere thought of whatever it was, she giggled again and the whole viscious cycle repeated once more.


Weeks after the brutal mess was taken out of her mouth, she told me what had made her laugh so hard that day.


"Manda, you know how I don't like vulgar comedians?"


"Yeah," I said, knowing even the "S" word or using the word Hell too often would drive her insane.


"What I was watching that day was by accident. I was flipping through the channels and I came across this comedian talking about how he once knew a guy who had all of his fingers on both hands cut off in a saw mill accident."


"Well that doesn't sound funny at all!"


"He said that the guy took up being a thief because he couldn't find a job since all he had were two thumbs. He said the guy would steal donuts all the time." She mimicked the action he would have needed to use by holding her thumb up in the air, stabbing through the center hole of an imaginary donut and holding it proudly over her head." Finally he stole donuts from a shop that all the cops ate at all the time, and it made them all mad so they arrested him.


"Well, he decided later on that he was going to clean up his act and go straight. The problem was that he still couldn't find work with only two thumbs. He couldn't dig ditches or type or do anything for anyone without fingers. Frustrated, he decided he'd start over in another town. Without fingers though, he couldn't grab a steering wheel and so he couldn't drive. Instead, he decided to take up hitchiking."


At this point I was already grinning ear to ear over her hand movements describing the donut thief. While continuing the story, she had carefully folded all of her fingers inward, making sure to poke ther thumbs out as far as possible. She looked like Fonzy from Happy Days. Suddenly she started laughing hysterically.


"Hitchiking?" I asked.


"Yeah - he was great at flagging down the cars with that thumb sticking out" she waved her hand through the air again mimicking the actions needed, including stabbing at an imaginary door handle with her thumb, "but once they got pulled over he couldn't get the car doors open! Finally he got frustrated and yelled at them 'Oh Hell, just go on!'"



My mother roared, and her laughter made me light up as bright as a Christmas tree. I laughed right along beside her. I always loved to hear her laugh.



She swore that day she would find out who that comedian was so she could watch the show again, but try as I might I can't seem to find it anywhere on the internet, to purchase or watch on Youtube. I can't help but think that would have been a great birthday gift for her this year.




Beautiful Mom.

If anyone out there has any
information on the comedian
I'm talking about, please
contact me with a link - either
on facebook or by leaving a
comment below. Any and all
help is greatly appreciated.


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