Of mice and mothers

This is a true story. I live in an apartment across the hall from three college students. They all have the name “Patrick.” If I call “Pat” I get three of them answering me. Both apartments share one back door. There’s a problem with the door, and we have to make sure it closes properly so that no critters sneak in underneath it. Usually we all remember, but sometimes visitors don’t.

One night I checked my kitchen to make sure I didn’t leave any food out. Suddenly I saw a little mouse running across the floor!

He disappeared quickly. I called the boys. I had three mousetraps. I asked them to set them with some bread and peanut butter. I understand mice love peanut butter.

The next morning I checked the traps. The peanut butter and bread were gone, but the traps were empty. No mouse! He must have thought we were a bank, though, since he left little deposits all around the traps!

But then I saw something in a pitcher of water. It was the mouse. He had drowned. Now tell me, how did that mouse climb into that glass pitcher? How did he get the traction to climb the glass? And if he could get in, how come he couldn’t get out?

I’ve never thought much about the intelligence of mice, and now I’m concerned about mine. Oh, well. I’m here and the mouse isn’t so I guess I’m OK.

Do you remember when I started writing I was nicknamed “The Erma Bombeck of Fredonia?” Well, I found this poem that she wrote for Mother’s Day. I’d like to share it:

If I had my children to raise all over again,

I’d finger paint more and point the finger less.

I’d do less correcting and some connecting.

I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.

I would care to know less and know to care more.

I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.

I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.

I’d run through more fields, and gaze at more stars.

I’d do more hugging and less tugging.

I would be firm less often and affirm much more.

I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.

I’d teach less about the love of power, and more about the power of love.

Isn’t that beautiful? She wrote that May 8, 1999. I feel so privileged to have been compared to her!

I wrote some stuff that I’ll share with mothers:

I want more to show for my old age than just the wrinkles on my face and hands and going downstairs two feet on each step. I want more laughs, more wisdom, more friends and to give a lot of love. If I get some in return that would be nice, too, but giving love is better than getting love. It’s the best kind of love.

I can’t stand waste. For example, you vacuum the house and nobody comes over that day! I always have to have something to show for my work every day. Maybe I should hire a chauffeur (show for?). Took you a minute to get that, hush?

I started sleeping on the porch when I was 62. Before then, I was too young to stay out all night.

Here are some odds and ends I picked up:

“You know you’re a failure when nobody wants to look at your see-through dress.”

Q: “How did you enjoy the wedding?” A: “It was OK. The bride looked stunning and the groom looked stunned.”

“Misers aren’t any fun to live with, but they make marvelous ancestors!”

“He’s been given pills to increase his strength, but he can’t get the top off the bottle!”

“His name is ‘John Damned Smith’ because the priest stubbed his toe during the Baptism.”

“He took his new car in for its first service, but it got jammed in the doors of the church.”

“His wife’s credit card was stolen, but he didn’t report it because the thief was spending less than his wife did.”

“After I got the bill for my surgery, I understood why doctors wear masks.”

P.S. It’s OK if fathers laugh, too, this week!

Margaret Valone is a Fredonia resident. Send comments on this column to lifestyles@observertoday.com