Big fun yesterday. I took my mother back to the DMV to renew her driver's license. Once again, we dove into the bowels of America.
"Who are these people? Where do they come from?"
"These are the backbone of America, silly. They live over there."
"How do they live? It doesn't look like any of them work."
"They live many to a house. One of them works. Some of them are getting government aid and some are getting Welfare and Disability checks. Then there are the younger ones, the gang members who deal in drugs, steal cameras and the like."
"Oh. . . yea. . . I guess some of them might be relatives of mine."
Oh, shut up. I'm going to show you.
So. . . when we got called, my mother handed the clerk her passport, Social Security Card, current driver's license, and her form from the ophthalmologist saying she had good eyesight. The clerk was in her early twenties and seemed sweet. Then she asked my mother for a piece of mail that showed her to be current resident of the state.
"No, honey. . . I don't have any mail."
"You will have to bring in some mail with your name on it."
My mother went full hillbilly right away.
"SHIT!" she yelled and then started in with that crazy voice of a moonshiner being chased by revenuers. She was firing her shotgun with both barrels.
I looked at the clerk and slowly wagged my head. "We weren't told to bring that when we were here last week," I said. "We were told to bring the passport and the Social Security card. There was no mention at all of bringing in any mail."
I figured my mother had just screwed the pooch on this one, however. You don't win a fight with a public employee by yelling. But the girl sat for a minute, then asked, "Are you a registered voter?"
The girl punched the computer keys for a minute, then looked at my mom's eye test results. She said, "I'll be right back," and went to talk to someone. When she came back, she began typing again. Then she told my mother to check some things on a pin pad monitor. She was helping my mother answer the questions. Then she read off a list of questions for my mother to answer verbally.
"Have you ever been judged mentally incompetent or impaired by a court of law? Are you addicted to any drugs?"
There was a long list. Surely a drug addict or mentally incompetent person would speak right up truthfully. I mean, hell. . . we were on the Honor System. I thought about the horde of drug addicts and the criminally insane in the outer waiting room.
When she was finished, she told my mother to follow the footprints on the floor to the Photo Booth. Holy shit. . . I was sure my mother's incompetence at following footsteps was going to get her disqualified, so I took her by the shoulders and moved her along in front of me. I looked back over my shoulder and grinned sheepishly at the young clerk.
From start to finish, though, the entire project took only fifteen minutes in and out. I thanked the clerk for helping us. She said "You're welcome," without looking up.
There is no way in hell my mother could have driven there, checked in on the computer, saw her name come up on the electronic screen, and gotten through the rest of it. . . but now, by gosh, she had a driver's license that needn't be renewed until she is 99. God Bless America!
She wanted to stop at Costco on the way home. She filled up my gas tank, then we went shopping. And holy shit, she is slow. She stands in the middle of aisles, then wobbles off this way or that, bent at the waist because of a bad back. But I had gone to therapy that morning, and I don't think I was walking all that much better and certainly not pain free.
When I went to therapy that morning, I told the therapist that I thought I only had two appointments left. She told me I was scheduled for two more but I could do four more on my insurance plan. Then she said that we could make the next visit my last. I am not like the other patients there who have had surgery. I think they have helped me all they can at this point. At least the therapist does.
Here is a photo of my mother's mother when she was in high school in the 1920s. Her parents, my great grandparents, moved to Ohio from Iowa at the turn of the century. My great-grandfather was a sharecropper on a nearby farm, but he eventually got enough money to by his own and the surrounding woods. That is where my grandmother was born. When she got married, she and my grandfather moved into a renovated grain shack on the farm. My grandmother, who was slight and who had trouble with arthritis even as a kid, bore three children, a boy and two girls. All three of the kids slept in one bed. My mother said they stuffed newspaper in the cracks of the walls to keep out the wind and the snow, but that they would wake up some mornings covered in snow anyway. When he was old enough to help out, her brother moved up to the farmhouse to live with his grandparents and the rest of them moved into a stone cottage built on the far corner of my grandfather's farm. This was a rural community, not a town but a township, and most of the people who lived around the area were in some way related.
When my mother married my father, they eventually bought a house across the highway from my great grandfather's farm. That is where I was born. All my cousins were born and lived within half a mile of the farm as well. Three generations of hillbillies covering the countryside.
But I'll write more about that later. This is getting long.
Look at my mother, though. She was a True Beauty, I think. She is fourteen in that photograph, but she already had the figure of a woman. What chance does a girl like that have? She was just learning about the world. She was making some money working in a canning plant. She went to the next town with her cousin to see the "picture show." Her father, she said, would follow her to make sure she didn't talk to boys. He was mean to her, she says, and told her he would send her away to a reformatory. My grandfather was not a warm and loving man. His big dream in life was to own a junkyard. He never did and he never did much else.
Now, almost 92, my mother lives in a nice house in a nice neighborhood with nice neighbors. And she has a good son and a driver's license.
And me? Hell, man. . . I have a full tank of gas!