Since Sunday is Mother’s Day, I thought I’d honor my mother by telling you about her recent hysterectomy.

I asked her permission to tell you this, of course, and she had no problem with it. (“Anything for a laugh” I believe were her exact words.) The last thing I want to do is publicly embarrass someone who has enough embarrassing dirt on me to fill a library (not that a library would be interested in the story about how, when I was a toddler, I intentionally soiled my pants every time my cousin came over to play).

Mom wasn’t worried about her hysterectomy. In fact, she was looking forward to it. Mom likes surgery. She likes lying around in hospitals, she likes being waited on hand and foot, and she likes being doped up on medication. A surgery for her is like going to Club Med for regular people.

So she goes in for the surgery, and she’s given the option of staying awake for it. She went for this option, because, ever-curious, she wanted to watch the procedure. Imagine her disappointment, then, when they put a curtain over the regions involved while a crew of 85 doctors went to work removing parts of her. (I am uncomfortable using words like “uterus” and “ovaries” in conjunction with my mother, though in conversations with me, she bandied them around like they were prepositions.)

Since she couldn’t see what was going on, she got kind of bored after a while, and passed the time by throwing up. She did notice, though, that when they cauterized something, it smelled like they were having a barbecue. “If I had been hungry, it would have smelled really good,” she told me.

She told the doctors that while they were taking things out, if they happened to find any 40-pound lumps of fat, they could feel free to remove those, too. They looked, but they couldn’t find any that small.

Ha! I’m kidding, of course. Some of you are already conjuring up the angry letters you’re going to write to me — no, I take that back. The angry letters I get don’t usually seem to have had any forethought in them. Some of you are already WRITING the letters, then, telling me how awful I am for making fun of my mom in a newspaper column. But you know what? You know who laughed hardest at the joke I just made? My mom. You know who loves reading this column more than anyone else? My mom. You know who appreciates a good joke, or even a lame one like that was, more than anyone in the world? My mom.

If I may wax philosophical for a moment, I have a theory about the eternal scheme of things. Ideally, we want to be as much like God as possible. (That part of my theory I stole from somewhere else.) Well, the reason Mom is so calm and collected is that she’s already 99 percent there. While the rest of us are working to improve ourselves, control our tempers, break bad habits, silence the voices in our heads that say “kill, kill, kill,” Mom is relaxing. She’s coasting, just waiting to make it official.

That’s how she can afford to take a week’s vacation at the local hospital. That’s how she can make jokes about her own surgery, and the fairly serious complications that led up to it. That’s how, when Dad’s company goes under and suddenly he’s unemployed, she can say, “I’m not worried.” This is a woman who worries about everything, who derives great pleasure from worrying, who even plans her worries in advance. (She is already concerned, for example, about where I’m going to sleep when I come home for Christmas in 2009. The years 2000-2008, she’s already been worrying about, for several years now.) So when she says, “I’m not worried,” it’s a pretty big deal. And I know it means I shouldn’t worry, either.

Is there any greater comfort than your mom, who is closer to God than anyone you know, telling you not to worry?

I have two strong images of my mother from when I was growing up. One is when an older, bratty girl named Colleen was harassing me and my friends, so my mom turned the hose on her to chase her out of the yard. The other is of Mom kneeling by her bed every morning, praying. I have no doubt that whatever degree of success or non-screwed-upness I have achieved, it is because Mom was praying for me. Put God and Mom on my side, and I think I’ll make it.

And not to be disrespectful or anything, but I think even God would have to defer to Mom when it comes to making peanut-butter-chocolate-chip cookies.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you. (Please note: This was your present.)

Mom and her favorite child
Mom and her favorite child
This picture ran with the column in The Daily Herald, along with this caption: "I wanted to include a photo of Mom with her favorite child. So here she is with her rat-faced dog, Andy. Andy likes to crawl inside his 'mommy's' shirt and rest there, and Mom thinks it's cute, though I don't recommend YOU try it." It's unusual to run a photo with a column (other than a mugshot of the person who wrote it, of course), but we made an exception here.

My mom is great. I hope this column captured who she is. She has a great sense of humor, and she has more faith than anyone I know. I wanted to convey all that mushy stuff while still maintaining the normal tone of "Snide Remarks," because honestly, I think that's how Mom would want it. She wouldn't want me to get COMPLETELY serious; she likes the funny too much.

On June 18, the Daily Herald printed the following letter to the editor:
Well, it is not quite 7 a.m. and I am motivated to dash off a letter to the editor. Gosh, reading the paper may be the best exercise to get the brain cells moving after all. [Here she complains about the misspelling of Pancho Villa's name in someone else's article. I know how to spell Pancho Villa: it's Pancho Villa. I don't know how the person spelled it, but it wasn't Pancho Villa, apparently, because this woman complained about it.]

Now to remark on "Snide Remarks." If I ever needed proof of Mr. Snider's feelings of self importance, [Needed it for what? A science project? A tax write-off?] he provided that. He did so, not in content but grammar. Even before I started school and studied grammar, my grandmother would correct my speech. "It is polite to put others first." Examples would be, "Mary and I" or "She gave the cookies to Mary and me." A bad usage example would be Mr. Snider's "...harassing me and my friends." I realize that these are minor irritants, but as one professor would frequently note on my essays, "Good work, but once more marred by carelessness." Help! I have morphed into my professor. [Ha-ha! Apparently, her professor was a nit-picking old fart.] Thank you, Mr. Smart, I guess freshman English was not a total waste. [Although it didn't teach her not to write run-on sentences, like that one was.]

Ramona Whaley

This letter became the subject of this column.