Sunday, January 27, 2008

Of Wooden Spoons, Moamar Khadafy and Cancer

My childhood best friend Margaret is pregnant with her third child and is stuck in a hospital on the "other" coast until she gives birth on or around Feb. 6. Things get pretty boring there, and I have promised to entertain her with my blog, which she dutifully checks on her Blackberry. So expect a lot of M. between now and then. And don't expect all of it to make sense.

For those of you who have checked out my blog roll links, M. is Lyrissa's mom. Three years ago, little Roo, not quite two, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare, deadly cancer. It just so happened that at the time, M. was very pregnant with her second child, Nicholas. It was a long, long road for M. and her family, and Lyrissa's life hung in the balance. There were many days M. didn't know if her firstborn girl was going to live or die. Miraculously, Lyrissa is clean now. Still, she has to use hearing aids from side effects of the treatment, and she had to fight to catch up to kids who didn't have to spend months on end in the hospital at such a crucial developmental age.

But enough of the sad stuff. I just wanted to include that to show you what an incredible person M. is, and to encourage you to check out Lyrissa's page and others at They're some amazing folks.

I promised M. that I would begin by regaling the myriad (ha ha) readers of Stella's blog with The Story of the Wooden Spoon. Y'all are going to just have to wait to see what in the world a Libyan dictator has to do with the price of eggs in China.

When M. was in first grade, her teacher had a yardstick she used as a pointer. So M., who liked to "play school" at home, located an old mop handle that she would bang against the cement walls of her basement while teaching her imaginary pupils. The tactile sensation became a habit, and by the time I met her about six years later, she always had a pencil (unsharpened, mind you) or stick on hand to bang on the ground, her palm or side of a building as we worked through our adolescent angst.

One day we were in the kitchen with my mom, who had the misfortune to break the spoon end off a wooden spoon in a bowl of batter. M's eyes lit up as she covetously eyed the handle in my mom's hand. "Can I please have that?" she asked. My mom handed over the wooden stick, laughed and said, "I have never seen someone get so excited about a broken wooden spoon."

When I spoke with M. the other day, I asked her if she still "banged." "Oh yeah, I have my pencils," she said. "My kids know to go get them for me." Among the things her husband packed for M.'s stay in the hospital? You guessed it: her pencils. Unsharpened, of course.

As for Moamar Khadafy, I can't even really remember when we latched onto his name in the newspaper, but he certainly deserves royalties for the number of times we've used it since then. We liked the sound of it rolling off our tongues, and from then on have called each other Moam. Generally, I'm Moam Sr., since I'm two years older. Often my signature gets a "J.D.," "PhD" or "Esq." after it. Variants include Moamus, Moamius and Moamdigger. Twenty-odd years later, I'll answer the phone and hear a tentative, "Moam?" On one of my last visits, we drove Lyrissa crazy singing the Moamdigger song. (Of course there's a song!) "Mommy, STOP SINGING!" she pleaded.

Fat chance, kid. The Moams are here to stay.

1 comment:

Chebbles' Mama said...

It's still unclear to me how the Chinese eggs figure into the equation...
Dim sum special?
Fertility treatment?

Anyway, so wonderful to know Lyrissa's doing so beautifully.