I am at a dinner table with two well-dressed older women, sipping iced tea before appetizers. One of them is my elderly mother-in-law, Mother Mary. The other is her younger sister, Aunt Cat.

There are sprigs of mint in the tea. Fine silver on the table. We are having a conversation.

At least, I think that’s what you’d call it.

“I just love oysters,” says Mother Mary, who wears a white blouse, pink pants, and a Life Alert bracelet.

“It doesn’t matter how they’re cooked,” Mary goes on. “I love oysters.”

“Me, too,” says Aunt Cat. “I love them, but I don’t actually eat oysters, I only like their smell.”

“The smell?” says Mother Mary. “Oysters don’t have a smell.”

“Yes they do,” says Aunt Cat. “I like the smell.”

“They don’t have a smell. Besides, you can’t love food just for its smell, you need to either sit or get off the pot.”

“I can like whichever smells I want.”

Mother Mary laughs. “That’s like saying you love Elvis only for his shoes.”

“I happen to like Elvis’ shoes. In fact, I’m pretty sure he sang a song about shoes.”

“No, no. You’re thinking about Nancy Sinatra. And her song was about boots. That song has always brought out my sassy side. I can be sassy.”

It’s about time I interject.

“Elvis DID sing about shoes,” I add. “It goes: ‘One for the money, two for the show…’”

“That song’s not about shoes,” says Mary. “It’s about his hound dog.”

So I show Mother Mary my cellphone to prove it. On the screen is a video clip of Elvis.

“See?” I say. “It says right here, the song is entitled ‘Blue Suede Shoes.’”

“Well,” Mary says, “I’ve never heard it called that, and I’m older than YouTube. And I remember that song when it came out on the radio. We were on the bus for our band trip, we were riding to Weeki Wachee to see the mermaids.”

“You’ve been to Weeki Wachee?” says Aunt Cat.

“You kidding?” says Mary. “The Brewton high school band used to go all over the world, I went to Mexico, Weeki Wachee, Flomaton…”

“Not me,” says Aunt Cat. “I came along later in life. By then, our band didn’t do nothing but sit on our butts, it was the pits.”

“Hey,” Mother Mary says, “that reminds me of the time when I bruised my tailbone.”

“When you did what?”

Mary nods. “Yep. It was at the pool, I was sitting on the steps trying to look all cute for a basketball player and I slipped and bruised my coccyx.”

“You bruised your what?”

“That’s what doctors call your tailbone. It’s called your coccyx.”

“No, I think you’re mixed up, women don’t have one of those.”

“We do, too. Your coccyx. I don’t know how you spell it, though. Maybe you can use YouTube for that.

“It was awful. The doctor gave me a donut pillow and everything, I had to sit on that pillow during class. I was taller than everyone else. The boys dang sure noticed me then, sitting on my fat old pillow. I think you spell it: C-O-C-C…”

“When I broke mine,” Aunt Cat explains, “I fell through a chair and hit the concrete. Doctor patted me on the shoulder and said you’re gonna feel that for a long, long time, honey.”

“C-O-X-Y… No, that’s not right. I don’t know, there’s an X in there somewhere.”

“The doctor was right, my tailbone hurt for months.”

“Hand me my book thingy,” says Mother Mary. “I need to know how to spell that stupid word. It’s driving me nuts.”

“What book thingy?” says Aunt Cat.

“The book thingy with all the emails and the internets.”

“That’s called an iPad.

“Hush. I don’t like that name. It’s indecent.”

“What could be indecent about an iPad?”

“Don’t keep saying that word, my son-in-law is present.”

“There’s nothing wrong with calling it an iPad, that’s what they call it on TV.”

“I don’t care what people do on TV, besides, I don’t watch anything but Chip and JoJo anymore. I think they had a baby.”

“Well, I’m not bringing you the iPad right now, because it’s almost time for dinner. Look, here she comes with our food.”

“Oh goody!” says Mary. “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”

Mary sniffs the air.

“Hey,” says Mary. “What’s that good smell? Oooo, I can tell I’m gonna like dinner just by the smell.”

“We’re having oysters.”

“I love the way oysters smell,” says Mary.

Happy 79th birthday, Mother Mary.


  1. Sandi in FL. - May 25, 2019 7:50 am

    Happy Birthday to Mary! Nexy year she’ll be 80, a huge milestone. Where was Jamie since it was her mother’s birthday?

  2. Debbie Phillips Hughett - May 25, 2019 10:40 am

    Happy Birthday, Mother Mary!

  3. June Edge Batchelor - May 25, 2019 11:00 am

    Happy Birthday Mother Mary!

  4. Nell Thomas - May 25, 2019 11:18 am

    Close to the end- when Mary ask: What’s that good smell”, I thought for sure Aunt Cat would say: ” I think it is horse.”
    I know they enjoyed the day. Good story. Thanks.

  5. Meredith Smith - May 25, 2019 12:26 pm

    You write deliciously.

    • Martha Martin Black - June 25, 2019 8:20 am

      Smells wonderful………. Smells just like joy……..

  6. Barbara Pope - May 25, 2019 1:01 pm

    Are you sure that was mint in that tea?

  7. Shelton A. - May 25, 2019 1:12 pm

    Happy Birthday and God bless you, Mother Mary, for having Jamie for Sean to marry! Sounds like ‘High Tea’ to me, but who am I to judge.

  8. Anne P. - May 25, 2019 1:30 pm

    One of the funniest ever!

  9. Anne P. - May 25, 2019 1:31 pm

    Laughed so hard I almost needed an iPad! Lol!

  10. Connie Havard Ryland - May 25, 2019 1:45 pm

    Happy birthday Mrs. Mary.

  11. Ginger - May 25, 2019 2:16 pm

    Love it; very realistic!

  12. Phillip Saunders. - May 25, 2019 2:36 pm

    Sean, only you could find a way to insult us old folks without hurting our feelings. Wait – wasn’t that a song by Andy Williams? No, maybe Ted Williams. Silly me, he wasn’t a singer! Oh, well, where was I ? Now I remember – sitting on my cox-six wondering why I never smelled all those oysters I ate. Happy 79th Birthday, Mary. You have a fine son-in-law, and I bet he could do a great rendition of Blue Suede Shoes. BTW, Carl Perkins recorded that song before Elvis. Eating oysters helps my memory.

  13. Judy - May 25, 2019 2:41 pm

    This and some of the comments above made me chuckle. (ie – are you sure that was mint in the tea?) It was so thoughtful for you to take your mother in law and her sister to lunch. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Jack Darnell - May 25, 2019 2:52 pm

    Happy Birthday Mary, your son-in-law sucks oysters! LOL
    I love oysters, raw to fried. Stuck my hand once trying to shuck one in Blloxi.

  15. Bobbie - May 25, 2019 3:08 pm

    Now that’s just too funny! I can see you sitting there, head back and forth taking in their conversation, and anxious to get to your iPad to write all about it. Thanks again Sean, for starting my day with a smile?‼️

  16. Linda Moon - May 25, 2019 3:59 pm

    There’s nothing like a Mother Mary and an Aunt Cat. My Mother Billie and Aunt Kat (really – – – I am named for her!) were two sisters. Memories of their conversations, especially the ones about fresh Georgia peaches, butter beans, and a trip to Weeki Wachee, are treasures. I hope Mary and Cat have many more birthdays!

  17. Linda Chipman - May 25, 2019 4:40 pm

    Thanks for a good laugh and the memory of my Mother, Mary.

  18. Janet Mary Lee - May 25, 2019 4:52 pm

    Happy Birthday,Mary! Bless you for giving the most precious of gifts! Time spent with them!!

  19. Catherine, Cat, Mary Catherine, etc... - May 25, 2019 6:10 pm

    Hey! I’m Cat, Aunt Cat, Mary, Mary Catherine to be exact~guess that’s irrelevant to the fact that I loved this account of lunch with Mother Mary and Aunt Cat…?

  20. Judy Snyder - May 26, 2019 2:13 am

    Love this one, too. Keep ’em coming, please and thank you.!

  21. Russell McLaney - June 25, 2019 12:36 pm

    I’ll never feel the same about my I-pad again!

  22. Anne Heffernan Schaeffer - June 25, 2019 3:21 pm

    Happy Birthday Miss Mary from one of your pre school students and backyard neighbor, 58 years ago!


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