Jo's a Jerk!

by Tina Blue
December 20, 2000

          When my sister Mame was twelve years old, she began treatment for a severe case of scoliosis. She went to a Texas hospital, where they performed a spinal fusion, using bone taken from my mother's hip.

          Mame's next year was spent in a full body cast in a hospital bed in our living room. Then she graduated into a two-year stint in a partial body-cast, covering her neck, torso and hips, and one of her thighs. She could stand and she could walk, in a Frankenstein monster sort of way, but she couldn't sit or do anything else that required bending. Her fourth year was spent in a jacket cast that allowed her to walk and sit. All the casts had chin pieces.

          This detail matters, because Jo had to have a place to sit when she wanted to talk to Mame.

          Jo was a pale blue budgie (you might call them parakeets) that a family friend had brought for Mame the first time she came home after the operation. The lady loved her bird, but she thought Mame needed the company of someone guaranteed to cheer her up. Jo could be counted on to cheer anyone up.

          Jo was definitely Mame's budgie. We all adored her, but she always sought out Mame first. She sat on Mame's shoulder when she wanted to visit with the rest of us, but her favorite place was on Mame's chin piece, because then she was right up there face-to-face with Mame, where they could have a proper conversation.

          Jo was a real talker. She learned Mame's name immediately (we made sure of that!), and she used it all the time. It was "Mame, blah, blah, blah! Mame, blah, blah, blah!" She always had something to say, and if it was Mame she was talking to, she addressed her by name--incessantly.

          Her next favorite person was "Davy," our mother: "Davy! Hi, Davy!

          When Mame and Mom had to go back to Texas for a check-up, Jo went nuts. She hunted all over the house the whole time they were gone, calling, "Mame! Davy!" She pulled every tissue out of every box--thinking, apparently, that we had stuffed her beloved Mame and Davy into tissue boxes to hide them from her.

          My father decided to teach Jo to say, "Jo's a jerk!" since she was acting so goofy.

          When Mame and Mom finally got back two weeks later, Jo lost no time in planting herself on Mame's chin piece and squawking, "Mame, Mame! Jo's a jerk!"

          Dad was so proud.
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