Our mother Mary’s younger sister was named Martha and just like the two in the Bible, they were very different. Well, to be honest, their first names were about where the similarities between these two sisters and the Biblical Mary and Martha ended. Martha (who went by “Marty”) lived in Chicago with her husband, had a job and she took it very seriously. When her oldest daughter got sick, Marty realized she could not take the required number of days off from work, and she her daughter to move in with my mother for a few days of recuperation.
The first night when Kathy Ann could not (or would not) go to sleep, Mother drugged her with phenobarbital. God knows where got the phenobarbital, it wasn’t among the prescriptions the doctors had sent Kathy Ann home with. But Mother always had some “medication” with her. Looking back, it doesn’t really seem like that great an idea for a layperson to administer prescription medication in this way.
But results were what mattered with Mother. And the result of giving Kathy Ann phenobarbital was that both she and my mother, of course, slept through the night Every night thereafter Mother gave Kathy Ann the “special drink.”
The next weekend, Aunt Marty came down to pick up her child. My mother met her at the door and said
I had to give her some medicine to help her sleep.
Aunt Marty became enraged at the thought of her sister drugging her child. Her anger grew out of control, and my mother slapped her in the face. Hard. Later, my mother claimed she had to do it in order to get her sister “under control.” I’m surprised she didn’t try to sneakily drug her sister instead of slapping her.
Aunt Marty calmed down and we all had dinner. That evening, my mother and Aunt Marty could be heard laughing and talking. Calm was restored after the storm, which was my mother’s pattern.