It’s not that my mother is wrong. It’s more like she came into this world with a different set of instructions.
Perhaps the kindest way to describe my mother came from my friend George, “She has one foot firmly planted in mid air.”
I usually describe my mother, Charlotte Ann Rebina Pollard Crowther White, as a walking contradiction — a line I stole from Kris Kristopherson. Annie White, as she likes to be called, is misguided in the way of Don Quixote and Barron Von Munchhausen ─ you can’t really say they’re “wrong”; they just see the world through a different set of lenses.
Quixote was on a crusade to save the world from the evils of the industrial revolution. So he mistook windmills for the titans of industry? It happens. Munchhausen was out to repel Suleiman’s army from the gates of Vienna — a noble cause, especially if you’re Viennese. For as long as I’ve known her, my mother has been out to rid the world from the evils perpetrated by men: all manner of crimes against women, greed, pollution, and the mistreatment of animals. These are all respectable causes that should stir anyone’s heart to “right action.” Right?
Even in her more lucid moments, however, her crusades have been more akin to a little kids’ lemonade stand than organized action; however, she did start a youth soccer league for girls in the 1970s that is still alive and kicking today. But after almost 25 years of taking Vicodin every day, she just isn’t capable of higher order thinking anymore, and the cause-and-effect relationships that most of us take for granted are a little, well, skewed. Like the time robbers broke in and stole the bag of presents she had “sitting right here” and replaced them with hundreds of boxes of Band-aids from the dollar store.
Most of the time, though, Annie is right in spirit, even though she may be missing a few cognitive steps that most people would consider elementary. Just don’t tell her that. She won’t stand for it. Trust me. I’ve tried.
Heaven Help the Fool
Somewhere in the middle 1990s, ridding the world of Roundup went from being one of my mother’s pet peeves to something bordering on a vendetta. Heaven help the fool who accidentally told her how great their lawn looks thanks to this vial poison. “It kills dogs! Don’t you know that?”
One look at the product label on a bottle of Roundup, and you can tell that this is nothing anyone wants in a salad dressing. It does a great job of killing dandelions, but the toxic effects don’t stop there. It is potentially lethal to wild animals and pets that eat grass sprayed with this herbicide. Contrary to the information from Monsanto, Roundup’s principle ingredient, Glyphosate, breaks down slowly, so it gets into the water supply and poisons fish and aquatic invertebrates.
Death by Roundup
According to Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at MIT, “Glyphosate is the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies.” The reason is that glyphosate obliterates the healthy flora and fauna in our gut, which are responsible for approximately 80 percent of our immune system. Glyphosate works by destroying certain enzymatic pathways. To think these pathways are limited to the plants we consider weeds would be foolish, and perhaps fatal.
Seneff’s research indicated that Glyphosate is linked to the rise in the following diseases:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Birth defects
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Gastrointestinal diseases (inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, and Crohn’s disease)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
In a two-year French study on the effects of eating Monsanto’s genetically engineered “Roundup Ready” corn (GMO plants that are resistant to Roundup), rats fed a diet of this corn developed breast cancer plus kidney and liver damage. Of the rats in this study, 50 percent of the males and 70 percent of the females that were fed this corn died prematurely. To see the truly horrific breast tumors that these rats developed, click here.
If you like conspiracy theories, you’ll love this bit of irony. The scientific article written about this study was redacted from the journal that published it, Food and Chemical Toxicology, “after a thorough and time-consuming analysis of the published article and the data it reports, along with an investigation into the peer-review behind the article.”
Did Monsanto, with its almost $15 billion in sales in 2013, exert its considerable political/industrial leverage to have this article redacted? Interesting question…
The Story You Are about to Hear is True (I think)
The story I’m about to tell you involves my mother, Roundup, and what can happen at the confluence of passion and paranoia. This story came to me secondhand from one of the home health aides that used to help my mom with household chores — that is until Annie fired the woman for eating all her peanut butter. While I cannot attest to the veracity of this story, I’m pretty sure what I’m about to tell you is true. It would be difficult to make these details up.
Every spring, the HOA where Annie used to live pays their landscaping company to spray the common areas around buildings with Roundup to kill the budding dandelions. This particular spring was no different. However, the minute my mother spotted an elderly Hispanic man with a bright red sprayer going around to all the dandelion patches beyond her patio, she went Chernobyl, and tore ass out the sliding glass door of her garden-level condo and read this agent of evil the riot act.
In addition to her complete lack of conflict-resolution skills, there was the obvious issue of a language barrier. When she realized that nothing she was saying was getting through to this poor man, my mother resorted to a time-honored Anglo tradition of shouting slowly and deliberately at non-English speakers: “TAKE-YOUR-GODDAMN-ROUNDUP-OFF-MY-PATIO-OR-I-WILL-SHOVE-THAT-SPRAYER–UP–YOUR-ASS-YOU-WIFE-BEATING-SON-OF-A-BITCH.”
I think it is important to mention here that my mother was well over 75 years old, 5’5” tall on a good day, and weighed 115 pounds with her boots on. So the idea of this frail old woman intimidating anyone other than her dog is humorous at best.
Not wanting to lose his job at the landscape company for fighting with the residents, the elderly man smiled and backed away from la abuela loca, probably thinking something like: Nice wacko lady. I will come back later when you are taking your nap.
Although I’ll never know for sure, I imagine that this guy had a conversation with his foreman about la señora loca who lives on the first floor. If the foreman was anything like the foremen of every landscaping company I ever worked for, he laughed, patted this guy on the shoulder, and told him to spray one of the other lawns for a while and then go back and finish the job later. And that’s what he did.
A Failure to Communicate
Nothing heightens my mother’s sense of righteous indignation more than proving the world is out to get her, steal from her, or disrespect her. So she laid in wait by the patio door, armed, ready to exact her revenge. When her prey came into view, she pounced.
I’d bet $20 that this poor guy never had anyone slap a cold, wet bath towel over his head and start jerking it around like they were trying to snap a chicken’s neck. Wisely, he dropped the sprayer as he tried to take the towel from his head. That’s when my mother swooped.
I wish I could have been there to see her skinny self running full speed with her bony little arms and legs pumping up and down as she raced around the building and slam dunked the sprayer full of Satan’s cocktail into the dumpster, then ran back inside her condo feeling like Wilma Rudolph at the 1960 Olympics in Rome — Is that all you got?
Apparently, my mother did a victory lap around her living room with arms outstretched before decontaminating herself for an hour in the shower.
I’ve never saw the point in asking my mother about this episode. She might not remember it now if I did. I’ve also avoided hearing her side of the story because I don’t want it to shatter the image I have of my skin-and-bones mom creeping up behind this guy, throwing a wet bath towel over his head and shaking the bejesus out of him. It still makes me chuckle.
Regardless of what really happened, I can’t help but wonder what it was like for this guy when he went home that night, took his boots off, cracked opened a cold one, and answered the question: “So Honey, how was your day?”