Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

How Big Is Your iPod?

Julia Lee Pollock

It has been twenty years since my mother died, and during that time, the world has changed a lot. Before my mother died, she spent two weeks in a coma, and being a person who tries to recreate the past, I have often wondered what it would be like if she had remained in that coma and suddenly woke up, twenty years later.

The scene might go something like this: There she lies, comatose in her bed, when out of the blue she springs up, rips out her nose cord and says, “Well good night, Hon! You look old as the hills! Go get me my L&Ms!”

Crisis! While it would be easy enough to update her on "As the World Turns," since the original cast is still kicking and the plot never changes, telling her the cigarette company no longer makes L&Ms would be unthinkable.

Dumbfounded, I stare at her with my mouth open, and she says, “And while you’re at it, fix me a cup of coffee. And WHERE is your father?”

At this point I’d turn off the fan because the load that has just hit it will go splat right in my face. Where on earth would I begin to fill her in on the past twenty years? Like many Southern women of the fifties generation, she preferred escape and diversion over the truth, and through her, I had mastered these tactics myself.

I look at her and ask, “Mama, how big is your iPod?”

She rolls her eyes up toward the ceiling and says, “Are you still making up words? I do believe you will drive me crazy. And you know I don’t like to talk in the mornings before I’ve had my coffee. Just let me have a little swig and then I’ll talk to you.”

I hand her a cup of coffee and she blows on it twice and takes a big swig. “Ahhhh,” she says. “I’m feeling a little better now.” She looks around the room and asks the dreaded question, “Where in the world am I?”

Sticking with my quest to avoid the truth, I say, “Don’t you remember? We’re in Honolulu. We flew out here on a whim, just the two of us, and you tried to surf, like you always wanted to do. Had a little accident, though, and you’ve been asleep for a few days.

She takes another swig of her coffee and says, “Hmmmph. Well, I guess I’m alive. Are Bob and Lisa back together?”

“No,” I sigh. "Bob is still married to Kim, but they seem happy.” I cannot force myself to tell her the "As the World Turns" theme song has changed.

Again, she looks at me. “Why do you have wrinkles?” she asks. "Are you using your Pond's Cold Cream?"

“The sun’s been a little hard on me, I guess. Plus, I’ve been drinking pina coladas and eating coconut cream pie while you’ve been recovering.”

“Well I do hope you haven’t been running around in that bikini again,” she says. “With our luck we’ll run into the preacher out here. And you never did answer my question, WHERE IS YOUR FATHER?”

I have two options here, and either one will send her back into a coma. I can tell her he is at work, which is something akin to Paris Hilton becoming a nun, or I can tell her he married a younger woman with children of her own, and that she thinks he hung the moon.

“He’s here,” I say. “He just stepped out for a walk on the beach. He’ll be back in a little while.”

“Hmmmph,” she says again.

“Mama,” I say, “Go back to sleep. You’ve been through a lot and you need to get your rest.”

She closes her eyes and just before dozing off, she says, “I might just do that. But wake me up when 'As the World Turns' comes on.”

“I will,” I say, as I fluff her pillow and tuck her in tight. “I promise.”


Julia Lee Pollock (Gillen) writes "Random Lives," a bi-monthly column, as well as feature stories for The Daily Herald in Columbia, Tennessee. She serves on the Editorial Committee of the Maury County Archives, and she is a member of ASCAP. She has published her first book, Will the Real Anonymous Mother Please Stand Up? written under the pen name Julia Lee.

© Julia Lee Pollock

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012