Ma and Da were gettin' on in years when it happened tha' day in the late 1980s. With most of the family reared and just me youngest brother left, they nearly had the house to themselves. Ma was still very active, busyin' herself with the housework and the shoppin'. Da, on the other hand, was goin' through a hard time with his health since retirin' from work. He was also in the early stages of dementia.
I was married meself, with two young kids and me own house, but I called into Ma and Da the odd Saturday mornin' on me way home from the night shift. Ma would do me a breakfast of eggs, sausages and rashers, along with the steamin' mug of tea and slices of bread. When I was finished, I'd sit at the fireplace with them for our customary chat. But tha' mornin' Ma wasn't her usual talkative self. I knew somethin' was on her mind.
"Yer very quiet, Ma," I said, "what's up with yeh?"
"Ah, I don't know how to be tellin' yeh this," she responded.
"Don't be silly now," I pressed, "just tell me wha's up."
She got straight to the point.
"Would yeh do me a little favour for yer poor oul' Daddy?" she asked.
"Course I will," said muggins here, not knowing wha' I was lettin' meself in for.
"Wha' do yeh want done?"
"Well, yeh know the way he's bad with the constipation? He's only allowed two bottles of medicine a month for it on the Medical Card, but he's after gone and drank the two bottles already, and him not due another one for about ten days."
"OK," I said, "so wha' can I do about tha'?"
"Well, yeh wouldn't get him one from yer doctor on yer own Medical Card, would yeh?"
"But I don't have constipat..." I began to reply, before coppin' on to wha' she was askin' of me.
"Yeh mean yeh want me to PRETEND I have constipation?!"
"Didn't I always say yeh were the brightest of all me kids?" she said with a glint in her eye, "And quick on the uptake too!"
"Ah but here now, Ma" I said, "yeh don't really think tha's gonna work, do yeh?"
Me protests were in vain though, because the one thing about Ma was she could be persuasive when she'd her mind set on somethin'. She could sell ice to the Eskimos and sand to the Arabs, no bother. So it wasn't tha' hard for her to rope me into doin' this favour for her. She even planned, with military precision, wha' I should say and do with me doctor.
"Don't be worryin' so much," she reassured me, "ye'll be grand."
With the arrangement tha' I'd be back in about an hour with Da's medicine, I got the bus home and told the mot I had to go out and do somethin' for Ma. (I didn't give her too many details, of course). Then I was sittin' with me doctor in his surgery, tellin' him I'd been havin' trouble doing me number twos and a friend had recommended a certain medicine tha' would fix the problem. After writin' it all down on his pad, the good doctor looked at me and said somethin' totally unexpected.
"All right, then," he said, "take off your trousers and hop on to that couch, please..."
Well, I was rooted to the spot! This wasn't supposed to happen, and for all Ma's meticulous plannin' she hadn't bargained for tha' one.
"Chop chop!" the doctor muttered impatiently, snapping me out of me reverie. I'd no choice then but to do wha' he said. Wha' else could I have done? After about a minute of him proddin' and probin' at me with his little stick, he said tha' me back passage looked clear enough to him. This wasn't supposed to happen either, so I had to think very fast on me feet. Or me knees, rather.
"Well, I managed to go this mornin'," I blurted out, "but couldn't do anythin' for days before tha'." It must have convinced him anyway, because he wrote out the prescription.
It didn't take long to get the medicine from the chemists, and then I got the bus back out to Ma and Da. But let me tell yeh, by now I was very annoyed. I didn't mind doin' the favour for Ma, but I drew the line at havin' to go through a personal examination for it. I was in a very bad mood over tha'. So when I got to the house, I thumped the bottle down on the table and said to Ma, "Just so yeh know, I went through the worse humiliation ever to get tha' for yeh!"
I told her about me degradations at the doctor's, but did she apologise or show any sympathy? Like hell she did. She burst out laughin' instead. Even Da seemed to understand wha' happened cos he was laughin' as well. Then I began to see the funny side meself. Well, it WAS hilarious when I thought about it. But most of all it was good to see me poor oul' Da smilin' tha' day, because he really hadn't had much to be cheerful about. He enjoyed the craic, anyway, even if tha's an unfortunate phrase to use in the circumstances.
But thanks be to Jaysus I was never asked to do anythin' like tha' again...
(c) Eddie Larkin 2013. All Rights Reserved.
Dedicated to Joey and Lily Larkin, RIP... thanks for the memories.