My mother turned eighty-two today. She didn’t expect to spend her birthday in a hospital room, any more than Mrs. T and I expected to spend it sitting by her bed. As usual, I had to plug our annual summertime visit to Smalltown, U.S.A., into the only available hole in my schedule, and the hole in question closed up last Thursday. Our plan was to send flowers from the road. Instead we delivered them in person, which is–needless to say–much nicer.
Now that my mother is feeling better, I can say that her ailment (a perforated bowel) was sufficiently grave that she wasn’t expected to live. That she not only survived a major operation but now appears to be flourishing is a sign of the stamina of a woman who was born in the same year that the Great Depression began working its terrible will on America. Life was tough in the Thirties, especially if, like my mother, you grew up on a dirt farm in the middle of nowhere. Anyone who got through the Thirties in one piece isn’t likely to be fazed by a perforated bowel, or anything else.
Not surprisingly, Stephen Sondheim wrote a song about it:
I’ve run the gamut
A to Z.
Three cheers and dammit,
C’est la vie.
I got through all of last year,
And I’m here.
She sure is, for which all of the Teachouts are profoundly grateful today.
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Yvonne De Carlo sings “I’m Still Here” on The David Frost Show: