Catawampus

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catawampus
  1. Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S. askew; awry.
  2. Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S. positioned diagonally; cater-cornered.

 

“Besty Lou Mayfield!”

Mama bust through the door of Betsy’s room like a hurricane in early Fall.

“Girl, didn’t ya hear me callin’ ya?”

She had been calling her only child’s name for what seemed like an eternity before coming upstairs.

“What’s the matter,” Mama questioned, hands on her round hips, a deep Southern drawl coloring her words. “I’ve almost got all the fixins’ ready, but I’m gonna need ya to help with the potato salad and pies cuz we’re runnin’ outta time before the Reeds show up. We can’t have everythang go catawampus on us today!”

“Oh, mama,” Betsy sobbed, tears covering her chubby cheeks, her slumped shoulders trembling.

Mama peered at Betsy like a doctor would a patient. Always one for words, Mama bit her tongue and came to sit on the bed with her daughter. She waited for what seemed like an eternity and a half, silently rubbing Betsy’s back.

“Are ya getting’ cold feet,” Mama asked, when the tears had slowed. “Are ya nervous ’bout the weddin’ cuz that’s only natural. It’ll melt right on away when you walk down that aisle, looking’ as gorgeous as a Christmas ham.”

Betsy shook her head no, unable to look at her mama. She already felt guilty enough.

It had been Mama who had squealed when Betsy called home to tell her folks about the kind, handsome stranger she’d met at a conference. When months of dating were followed by an engagement ring that could reflect enough sunlight a blind man a mile down the road could see, Mama had raved to everyone about her little Betsy all grown up and getting married. When she’d finally seen the ring mama squealed some more and the two erupted in giggles like schoolgirls while Papa just shook his head.

Mama who’d always been supportive and kind…

Back when Betsy decided to leave home and head to Boston for school, Papa had said no. Mama had made his favorite meal, baked her blue ribbon apple pie, and talked to him quietly upstairs after dinner about opportunities in big cities and wanting more for their daughter.

It was mama who’d bandaged every cut and scrape of her childhood.  Mama who’d always told her she was pretty, smart, funny, and capable of big things when others said different.

Betsy didn’t want to say it, but for the first time in her life she felt ashamed of her folks– especially Mama, with her thick drawl, simple logic, and simpler way of doing things.

She glanced at her mother’s beautiful round face. Nothing about mama had ever bothered her before. Nothing about herself  had bothered her either until she’d stepped foot in her future in-laws mansion. The more she talked, the stranger the look on their faces had become. Derrick had insisted that they loved her, but she knew she seemed more like a country bumpkin than a lady fit for their son.

If they didn’t like her, what would they think of her sweet mama?

Betsy swallowed her tears and shook her head again.

“I think I just got too worked up with all that’s goin’ on,” she choked out. “But I’m okay. I’ll be right as rain in just a lil while.”

She patted Mama’s hand.

“Let me just wash my face and I’ll come right down,” Betsy said.

“No time, child! We’ve got to whip up these pies and intoxicate those in-laws of yours!”

Mama winked and Betsy almost gasped.

Mama pulled her daughter in for a quick hug before lifting her off the bed and moving her toward the door.

“I might not have a fancy sheet of paper to boast ’bout my smarts young lady, but I remember feelin’ like I was marryin’ up too. But don’t ya worry none. Once they taste these pies, those Reeds’ll stuff themselves like ticks and be done for.”

Betsy and Mama giggled all the way downstairs. And for the first time since visiting her future in-laws, Betsy no longer cared what they would think of the Mayfield bunch.

 

 

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