On Saturday my Aunt Lola had her second mastectomy. We joined my mother and step-father in her recovery room just as she was coming back from surgery, and as three nurses tried to lift her from the gurney to the bed she flashed us her bare back side. “HEY, LOLA,” I yelled, “WE CAN SEE YOUR ASS.”
One of the nurses almost dropped her. “Your family is ruthless,” she said as she rushed to cover Lola’s butt.
“Are you kiddin’?” Lola laughed. “They know I’ll get ’em back by lettin’ the rottenest fart they ever done smelled right as they’re leanin’ down to give me a hug.” I took that threat very seriously.
My mother had been at the hospital for almost 12 hours waiting to hear if everything was okay. She looked almost as tired as Lola, tired of being the only sibling in her family who is willing to take care of the others. When we walked in the door with a hopping, happy Leta I could tell my mother would have rather seen no one else on Earth, and Leta ran straight to her and clung to her neck like a heavy piece of jewelry.
We couldn’t have asked Leta for a better performance. She sang her ABC’s and danced to imaginary music, stopping frequently to hug my mother’s knees. At one point she swirled into the middle of the room and began belting out a possessed rendition of “Baa Baa Black Sheep” complete with manic head jerking as if the spirit that had taken control of her body was having a coughing fit.
My mother called the next day to say that Leta had successfully taken her mind off the depressing situation, and that she had done nothing but sing “Baa Baa Black Sheep” in Leta’s voice since we had left the hospital the night before. Good work, Team Armstrong! This morning I taped her singing it and stopping dead in the middle of the third line because she forgets the words, except she totally tries to play it off like she meant to do that all along.