What Not To Get Me For Mother’s Day

Fortunately, I saw the postcard before anyone else did.  It was from a nearby heart hospital, where — evidently — not enough cardiac arrests had come staggering in recently.  So, the marketing department had come up with a ploy for new business.

Get Mom a heart CT scan for Mother’s Day.

Listen, the ads for flowers and candy for Good Old Mom — the salt of the earth, the self-sacrificing, the uncomplaining, the eternal enabler, the grim-faced martyr to her family — I can deal with.  Once a year, I can pretend as well as anyone that I’ve been the family doormat for the whole year and my husband and the kids should pony up for something festive for me and wipe those smirks off their faces for a mass outbreak of sentimentality.

But a heart CT scan?

“Don’t you dare get me a heart CT scan for Mother’s Day,” I told our grown son, who’d come over for dinner.  “Did you see this postcard?  Wipe it out of your memory.”

He looked shocked, since I was bringing up Mother’s Day so early — when it’s more than two whole weeks away and nobody in our family ever thinks about anything more than a few minutes in advance.  “I won’t,” he said.  “Is that as bad as getting you a spatula or a vacuum cleaner?”

“Medical procedures aren’t presents,” I said.  “So it’s worse.  It’s as bad as a husband getting his wife a facelift or a boob job for Christmas.”

My husband looked up from his laptop computer, then looked back down very quickly.  He didn’t make a peep.

Our son nodded, with the hard-won wisdom of a young man with an older sister, a guy who spends much of his time with women friends.  He knows when to be quiet, too.  It’s called survival.

I ostentatiously crumpled up the CT-scan postcard and threw it into the wastebasket.  Who on earth had come up with that wretched idea? I wondered.  Someone who loved his or her mother?  Hated her?  Somebody who just wanted to make a buck?

Talk about sad, talk about money-grubbing, talk about literal.  It’s as if you could measure the workings of a mother’s heart by a medical scan.  The truth is, it’s one of those metaphorical places that no one, not even mothers themselves, ever truly understand.

(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker)

10 comments… add one
  • You crack me up again, Ruth.  What a great way to end the week. 

    I’m also thinking of how expensive one would be. 

    Thanks, Ruth.  Have a good weekend. 

  • What fun a heart CT scan would be!   Not.  Fortunately, since I forgot to have children, I’m ineligible for that offer.

  • How crass could someone be i thought and then i started to think about those presents that just didn’t hit the mark.
    1. I was given a shower curtain by a boyfriend for my birthday because he’d heard me mention that i needed a new one.
    2. A friend was given an electric tin opener for her first Xmas pressie from her new man because she didn’t cook much from fresh.
    3. My favourite was a burial site which was given to a friend for Xmas after she’d told her boyfriend that the family site was filling up.
    And yes i do have a friend who got a boob job as a present from her hubby, i said she should get him a voucher for a p***s enlargement and see how he likes that!

  • Steve Link

    Out of curiosity, to whom was the postcard addressed? 

    I wouldn’t give it as a gift, but I confess there’s a part of me that wants to say, “Why the hell not?”    At least it has some utility.  Men like practical gifts, and while many of us–particularly those of us in long relationships–have figured out that most women do not share our appreciation for the practical, there’s always that latent urge for freedom in gift giving.

    I bear the burden of a spouse whose birthday is the week before Mother’s day, a gift two-fer opportunity to men, but not women.  Out on our evening stroll, I asked my spouse for gift guidance last week.  She explained that one of her favorite watches was broken.  Ignoring my response,  “I can fix it,” she went on to explain that she’d really like a Rolex.  “You really wouldn’t want to wear something that costs $3,000 on your wrist, would you?” I naively asked.  She simply looked at me in disbelief at the question.

  • ruthpennebaker Link

    Julie, Cathy, Liz — Great to hear from you all.

    Steve — There is no freedom in gift-giving.  Empty your mind of that dangerous notion.  Buy the watch before the price tag goes up.

  • Thank you, thank you for the very good laugh. I whole heartedly agree!

    I was given a very tacky faux pearl necklace and earrings. I had asked for a single pearl necklace. Never could figure out how he arrived at his purchase.

  • Winston Link

    No, a heart CT scan is NOT a decent Mother’s Day gift— it’s an ordeal!  Not even if you bought Mom a shimmering wrist corsage to wear to the coronary clinic and treated her to luncheon at that trendy bistro on the ground floor of the hospital afterwards, I’d still veto the idea.

    But I would advise moms everywhere to look into the idea of getting a scan for herself— especially if she can get a matted 9×12 printout to take home at a nominal fee.

    Once home, Mom should secret the printout away in a handy place, say, on a hook behind the broom closet door.  No self-respecting child (or husband, for that matter) would ever nose around in there.

    Then, whenever an occasion arises for casting a Darned Good Guilt Trip on any of her offspring, all Mom need do is yell, “WHAT?  You wanna break your poor Mother’s HEART!!!” quickly followed by snatching the printout from behind her apron strings and flashing it meaningfully in the face of the victim… er, DGGT recipient.  Lord only knows, kids today need all the visual-aids one can muster in driving home a point.

  • I have to comment on the cardiac marketing department… they’re really pulling out all the stops.  I predict a postcard coming to your husband in a couple of months, “Get Dad a Colonoscopy for Father’s Day.”  Maybe the urologist can jump on the bandwagon too.. I see a 2 deal there for different marketing segments.  “Dear ole Dad is tired.. get him a vasectomy for Father’s Day.”  and for the other, “Dad’s prostate ain’t what it used to be.. get him in here as soon as you can.  He’s sick of having to pee all the time…”

    Shall I go on??

    Oh.. and to add to the list of what not to get me.. I definitely do NOT want a mamogram..


  • What a strange marketing ploy. Hospitals will think up anything! I’m not so big on mother’s day, it seems like an excuse for this kind of ridiculous marketing…

  • Patty H. Link

    LOVE this post. I was searching on this topic because a friend got an iron for her MD present this year and I was going to write something funny about it for her. Instead, I’m directing her to come read this!!

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