Mother's Day
Saturday, May 8, 1999
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(GK: Garrison Keillor, SS: Sue Scott, TK: Tom Keith, TR: Tim Russell, VS: Vern Sutton)

(PIANO)

 

SS: Sunday is Mother's Day. You forgot, didn't you.

GK: Oh. You mean - Oh, it is, isn't it.

SS: You made other plans?

GK: Darn. I was going to go to a poker party with some friends.

SS: That's okay.

GK: No, I can try to get out of it.

SS: No, no - that's fine. Go ahead.

GK: We have this poker party every other Sunday.

SS: That's fine.

GK: But I should go have dinner with Mom, shouldn't I?

SS: Al and I can take care of it. You go have fun.

GK: Really, Janice, I feel terrible.

VS: You forgot it was Mother's Day? The first Sunday in May?

GK: I don't know. I guess I thought it was in November or something.

SS: Al and I picked out a card for her. Here. Why don't you sign it. And I'll put your name on the present too.

GK: Thanks. That's awfully kind of you.

SS: I got her a kimono. And a flowering plant. A jonquil.

GK: She'll like that.

VS: We're going to pick Mom up at the Home Sunday and take her to church and then go to her favorite restaurant.

GK: Which is that?

VS: Harry's.

GK: Harry's -

VS: We take her there for dinner once a month.

GK: Oh? That's nice. Are you sure you don't want me to come?

SS: It's all right. But if you think of it, maybe you could call her later, if your poker party doesn't go too late - huh?

GK: Sure.

SS: It'd mean so much to her.

VS: It would.

SS: You know - everytime we mention your name, Mom's little eyes light up.

VS: She's so proud of you.

SS: To her, you are so special. (VIOLIN JOINS)

VS: Even after you totaled her car that time.

SS: She forgave you! Just like that.

VS: Even after you went away with some of your friends to Colorado for a week when you were fourteen and took a hundred bucks off her dresser and didn't so much as leave her a note and she made more than six hundred phone calls to police departments all over the Midwest and went on TV to plead with your kidnappers to return you.

SS: Mom forgave you.

VS: Even after Dad died and she gave you his beautiful old violin that had been in the family for six generations and you took it and sold it for a small fraction of its worth and used the money to bum around for six months in Mexico with that rock 'n roll singer Betty Bad.

SS: Mom's dream was that you'd grow up to play the violin, like Dad. That was her dream. She'd've been the happiest woman in the world if you ever made even an attempt to play the violin. But no. I guess you had something else in mind.

(PAUSE ONE BEAT, AND DRUM SOLO OF ABOUT THIRTY SECONDS DURATION)

(IT ENDS, PAUSE ONE BEAT. THEN PIANO AND VIOLIN RESUME)

GK: Maybe I should try to change my plans for Sunday - I don't know. Let me talk to some people, see what I can do.

VS: It amazed me all those years she stood up for you, no matter what. It seemed like every week we found out about some new wretched thing you had done, heard some mean lowdown nasty rumor about you, some desperate lie you had told, some cheap dishonest trick, and we always worried, "How will Mom take it?" but Mom always saw some good in you. She saw a sensitivity there, a kindness, a love of beauty. None of the rest of us saw that. We only saw you.

(PAUSE A BEAT. DRUM SOLO, BRIEF. THEN PIANO AND VIOLIN AGAIN)

GK: I mean, the poker party is kind of an institution here, but I suppose I could tell them I can't make it. The thing is that I would need to find someone else to sit in for me who plays poker and isn't going to get on people's nerves. But I could try to do that. If you think I should.

VS: I think the time you ran naked up the aisle of the Methodist church - I think that was when Mom came the closest to disowning you.

GK: I don't know what I was thinking of.

SS: The Methodist church. In the middle of Uncle Ray's memorial service. Waving a red flag.

GK: I guess I was just trying to cheer people up.

(ANOTHER LITTLE DRUM SOLO)

VS: That was the week Mom went in the Home.

SS: When you were arrested for public indecency.

VS: That was when Mom told us how she got her bad limp.

GK: It was an accident.

VS: You pushed her down the stairs.

GK: I didn't mean to. I was ten. I was high on glue.

VS: She was carrying your clean laundry up from the basement and you shoved her.

GK: It was a joke.

VS: She told us about that whole incident, and then - you know what?

SS: She told us how much you mean to her.

VS: She looked at me and she said, "Al, I love you and Janice, you've done so much for me, but somehow it's the one who needs my love the most - the black sheep - who I have the deepest love for ..." That's what she said. Those were her exact words.

GK: I really should be there tomorrow. Hey, Guard! (BANGS TIN CUP ON BARS) Hey. Guard! Down here! C'mere! (FOOTSTEPS APPROACH)

TR: Yeah? What is it?

GK: I need a pass, McCafferty. I need to get home for Mother's Day. My Mom needs me.

TR: You? A pass? Ha! Your Mom needs you like she needs a hole in the head! (FOOTSTEPS AWAY, TR LAUGHING, FADING)

GK: Well, that's all right. I'll work on it. What time are you having dinner?

SS: We're taking Mom to Harry's about two o'clock. After church.

GK: After church. Okay. Good. I'll try to make it.

VS: How can you?

SS: It's impossible, honey. The guards ... the walls ... the barbed wire ... the searchlights ... the watchtowers -

GK: I'll find a way. I'll get a spoon and start digging or something.

(DRUM BREAK) (PAUSE AND THEN VIOLIN AND PIANO)

SS: Mom never gave up on you. Even after you shaved your head (DRUM BEAT) and had the ring implanted in your neck (DRUM BEAT) and changed your name to Booga Booga (DRUM BEAT) and took up weird religions (DRUM BEAT) and started smoking weird tobacco (DRUM) - Mom kept renewing your gift subscriptions to The Luther Leaguer and Boy's Life.

VS: Even after you parked in the handicapped parking space (DRUM BEAT)-

GK: I was only going to stay a minute while I ran in to pick up the pizza.

VS: Even after you smoked the cigarette indoors and violated Minnesota's Clean Air Act - (DRUM BEAT)

GK: Hey. I forgot, okay?

VS: Even after you violated Minnesota's Hate Speech Law by making disparaging remarks about an ethnic minority - (DRUM BEAT)

GK: Hey. I was only talking about Swedes!

VS: Even after all that - even after you were put in prison for hate and unclean air and illegal parking - Mom still forgave you for everything.

GK: I should try to make it for dinner tomorrow. I really should.

SS: She loves you so much. She came with us today, you know.

GK: Mom did?

VS: She came to the prison. She wanted to come. She said, "I have to see him one last time."

GK: Last time?

SS: She has a very rare blood disease, you know.

GK: I didn't know!

SS: The doctors think she got it from ankle bites.

GK: Oh no -

SS: From when you were very small.

GK: Oh my god. Oh Mom. I'm sorry. I wish I could do something.

VS: Anyway, she came with us today but she was too weak to get out of the car.

SS: So she's out there in the parking lot.

GK: Mama's out there?

VS: Right over beyond that eight-foot stone wall with the accordion wire and the guard on the platform with the submachine gun -

GK: I'm coming, Mom! Mom, it's me! I'm coming to you! (RUNNING FOOTSTEPS. THEN MACHINE GUNS. SIRENS. RUNNING FOOTSTEPS AND A LEAP. GK CRY OF PAIN. SLOW CRAWLING FOOTSTEPS. SIRENS. FOOTSTEPS. GK GROANS. CRAWLING THROUGH GRAVEL. DISTANT SIREN. SLOW FOOTSTEPS APPROACH)

SS OLD LADY: Honey, are you okay?

GK: I'm okay, Mom. I just fell.

SS OLD LADY: Oh, that's good. I saw you jump over the barbed wire, I thought maybe you cut yourself.

GK: No, I'm okay. It's only a flesh wound. And I'm tired, that's why I'm lying down. I'll rest a moment, Mom, and then I'll be better. And I'll take you home.

SS OLD LADY: I came down with Al and Janice, you know.

GK: They told me.

SS OLD LADY: Boy, what a couple of sourpusses.

GK: Well, they're good folks, Mom.

SS OLD LADY: Most boring people I ever knew in my life. And I've known some doozies.

GK: Well, they mean well.

SS OLD LADY: A pain in the butt, both of them. Got sick of listening to em.

GK: Mom?

SS OLD LADY: What is it, honey?

GK: Do you have the keys to their car?

SS OLD LADY: Yes?

GK: Let's go have dinner, Mom.

SS OLD LADY: Okay. Can you walk?

GK: I think so. (FOOTSTEPS SLOW, ON GRAVEL)

SS OLD LADY: Can you make it?

GK: I think so.

SS OLD LADY: The car's right over here, honey.

GK: Okay.

SS OLD LADY: That was real nice the way you jumped over that wall ...

GK: Thanks.

SS OLD LADY: Too bad they shot you.

GK: Yeah.

SS OLD LADY: Here's the car.

GK: Are you okay to drive?

SS OLD LADY: I'm not supposed to drive.

GK: Do you think you can?

SS OLD LADY: I don't have a license.

GK: I know, but can you, Mom?

SS OLD LADY: For you, honey, I'll drive anywhere. Let's get out of here! (DOOR CL0SE. CAR REV UP AND PULL AWAY) (BAND BUTTON, ENDING WITH DRUM SOLO)

(c) 1999 by Garrison Keillor

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

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