There is a great line in the movie, ‘Stripes‘ with a character whose name is Francis but calls himself, Psycho. When he tells the others in his group that if they touch his stuff “I’ll kill you”, and that “The name’s not Francis…it’s Pscyho.” The group’s sergeant shakes his head, laughs, and says, “Lighten up, Francis.”
These words could also have been used on Mother whenever she had one of her famous meltdowns. One in particular is fresh in my mind as if it just happened yesterday.
Mother had successfully journeyed north to her new home and was awaiting the arrival of some of her collection of stuff/trash/shit from Indiana. Some friends of hers had (in a moment of weakness, I’m sure) agreed to pack up some boxes and send them to her at her new home. It seemed like every day she could count on another package delivered to her door. And each day she reveled in receiving another big bunch of crap in the mail.
Once again she was back trying to clutter and hoard. My sister and I were dead set against it. We told her that since she was living communally that there were certain rules that had to be followed or she could face eviction. Those were fighting words to Mother! Her face turned bright red and seemed to enlarge as she took a big breath of air and let out with the loudest bellowing I can remember. It went something like this:
If it were up to the two of you I would have nothing! Why do you both insist I live like you do? I pay the rent around here and that entitles me to live however I want and if you two don’t like it then get out!
WOW! The only words I could think of to say were “Lighten up, Francis.” And so I uttered precisely those words.
Not only did she not get the reference. but it seemed to only enrage her more.
Why won’t you and your sister call me Mom? I just hate it when you call me by my name!
I was thinking, uh, oh, we have finally pushed her over the edge (not a long trip) and she has forgotten her own name! Now if you have been reading our blog, you know that my sister and I use laughter as a tonic for relief in a stressful situation. We began chortling, laughing, and yukking it up major league. Needless to say this did not set well with Mother/Mary/Francis or whoever the hell she now thought she was.
It was time for us to exit the scene before the authorities arrived due to the loud, ear piercing screaming Mother was now generating. My sister and I quickly left her with her mess of shit. We continued laughing all the way to the car.
It is very cathartic to be able to maintain your sense of humor even during a less than poignant parent memory. Upon our departure, I am sure she got out the old bottle, the amber colored one filled with liquid pleasure, and consumed several swallows telling herself once again how she had really set us straight!