David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families — Mothers

Mothers

• When David Letterman is in Indiana, he visits his mother. One day, he called his mother to let her know he was coming over, and when he arrived at her house, she asked him, “David, would you like some strawberry pie?” He saw a freshly baked strawberry pie on a table, so he asked her, “When did you make this?” She replied, “I started right after I got off the phone with you.” Mr. Letterman was pleased: “It was just the cutest. I was so touched. Isn’t that motherhood? She gets off the phone, drops what she’s doing, and bakes a pie.”

• When Olympic-gold-medal gymnast Bart Conner and his brothers were growing up, they had a lot of gymnastics equipment, including a set of parallel bars in the basement and a set of rings in the yard. Their mother was afraid they would hurt themselves, so occasionally she would drive around looking for discarded mattresses the day before the trash was picked up. When she found one, she would ask if she could have it, and she would take it home and place it under the gymnastics equipment.

• As a single mother, Mary Jane Kurtz found it difficult to get her children ready on time to go to church. One Sunday morning, she told her children to get ready in no uncertain terms and they started laughing at her. They told her, “Mom, every time you slam down your foot, smoke comes out. It must be the wrath of God!” The smoke was actually the powder she had put in her shoes, but thereafter her children got ready on time to go to church.

• Twyla Tharp’s mother had great faith in her daughter. Whenever Twyla brought home a report card that carried any grade lower than an A-, her mother immediately assumed that her daughter’s teacher was incompetent and made arrangements for Twyla to attend a different class — and sometimes a different school. Later, Twyla became the world-famous choreographer of Push Comes to Shove.

• English entertainer Joyce Grenfell was an actress who played a series of unglamorous roles in the movies, disappointing her mother, who wanted Joyce to be glamorous. Once, her mother told a friend that her daughter was in a movie that they were going to see, but when she saw Joyce in yet another unglamorous role, she told her friend that she had been mistaken and her daughter wasn’t in the movie.

• Comedian W.C. Fields was good to his mother. After leaving home, he studied juggling and comedy. Once he began to make good, he sent his mother a note and a $10 bill in December of 1898, and thereafter he sent her at least $10 a week. However, in keeping with his comic persona, he didn’t let people know what he was doing, and he always denied that he would ever help his family.

• Parents sometimes are shocked to learn that one of their children is gay, but often they quickly adjust — usually after spending some time wondering whether they caused their child’s homosexuality. One mother went through that process, but eventually joked to her gay son, “I finally figured out why you are gay — I chewed Juicy Fruit gum while I was pregnant with you.”

• As part of the Kinaaldá ceremony that marks a Navajo girl’s coming of age, the girl’s mother “molds” her with her hands into the shape of a beautiful and strong woman. When Celinda McKelvey’s mother molded her, she squeezed her stomach “so you don’t grow up to be fat.” Smiling, Celinda asked her mother to do it again — “just to make sure I stay skinny.”

• Eve Arden appeared in a play titled The Road to Rome, about the Carthaginian general Hannibal. Once, when Hannibal’s soldiers roughly dragged Ms. Arden’s character away on stage, the voice of Liza, Ms. Arden’s two-year-old daughter, could be heard in the audience, asking, “What are those men doing to my mommy?”

• When author Frank DeCaro’s mother decided to learn to drive, she asked her brother to teach her. He immediately drove his car to the top of the steepest hill in town, got himself and his dog out of the car, then told her, “Go ahead. Drive.” Decades later, she still complained, “Can you believe he took his dog with him?”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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