March 12, 2009
Humor Thy Father and Mother
My mother has chided me about my weight since I was a chubby eight-year-old stealing my skinny sister’s cookie. Maybe it’s because I was a moose in a family of munchkins. My grandfather was of slight build, an even five-feet in height, yet he towered over his four grown daughters and female grandchildren. All tiny, toothpick people. Except me.
I was as round as I was tall. Always a hearty eater, I loved butter sandwiches and sugar on my cheese toast.
One of my earliest memories was overhearing my parent’s muted conversation behind me on a walk to the park in elementary school: “When Debbie walks, it looks like two dogs fighting under a tarp.” I didn’t know what it meant at the time but the words imbedded themselves in my mind.
As a 12-year-old, I hit a gargantuan 5’3” and dwarfed my teensy cousins and aunts at family reunions. To tip the scales at 100-lbs was unheard of in our family, and I vividly recall my mother’s gasp when I scored 106-lbs at a doctor’s appointment in the sixth grade.
So Mama took it on as her personal mission in life to be my food conscience. She commented on every bite that entered my mouth until I finally left for college and indulged my newfound freedom by surpassing the freshman 15 by ten pounds.
For the next thirty years, on every visit home, my petite mother never missed an opportunity to slide in an editorial comment, “Oh, sweetheart, I have something for you. They’re pants that belonged to the neighbor that passed away. Go ahead…try them on. They’re w-a-y too big for me.”
Then, miracle of miracles, at age 50 finally I bit the bullet instead of a Snickers and by the grace of God shed 40 pounds. When Mama saw me after my transformation, her jaw dropped. Her first words were, “Oh, my! You look terrible! You need to gain some weight.”
Sometimes, you just can’t win.