Missing The Days of Niffie Poo

“Some people come into our lives
and leave footprints on our hearts
and we are never ever the same.”
~ Flavia Weedn

Welcome to Thoughty Thursday here at More Cowbell! This is the day of the week when y’all get to be privy to whatever thoughts are kicking around in my brain.

I know that 90% of you looked at this title and wondered, “What on Earth is that Jenny up to today?” That title is family code for: “I’ve got my mama on my mind.”

You see, my family doesn’t call me Jenny. Or Jen, or Jennifer.

Nope, my fam uses the middle of my given name and does derivations of the word, “Niff.” (And let me tell you, having your big brother — that would be the Bag Whore — introduce you to all his cute friends as “Sniffer” sucked bad. Total teenage trauma with that one.)

It all started yesterday when I scheduled an appointment with a counselor to wade through the grief that’s been dogging me lately. The first session is next week on my mother’s birthday, the ninth one since she passed. I had one of those weird out-of-body moments when they gave me the appointment time and I realized I pay someone now to do what my mama always did for free.

She was stellar at hearing a tumbled mass of feelings and helping to smooth them out.

In all likelihood, I wouldn’t BE so jumbled up on this whole grief thing if my mother was still alive. For one thing, as an oncology nurse, she specialized in grief. We had books like On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and The Courage To Grieve by Judy Tatelbaum on our bookshelf.

I’m kind of wishing I’d pulled those books down a little more when I had the chance, but mostly I’m wishing I could still call my mom to chat.

She had a way of listening with her whole self that encouraged people to reach deep. The best way I can describe it is the quote below:

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and
can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”
~ Unknown Author

My mother knew all the songs in her childrens’ hearts.

Several thoughts flitted through my mind during the surreal moment I mentioned above:

  • A fragment of the Flavia quote at the top of this post (we had all her books too)
  • How much my mama would have enjoyed Baby Girl, who’s named after her
  • My family and I send around Maxine cartoons on my mom’s birthday and I haven’t gathered mine up yet
  • How much I miss hearing my mom’s voice

Here’s a sample conversation, so you can hear her in your head too:

Me: *sees Mom on Caller ID and smiles* Mamacita!

Her: How’s my Niffie Poo?

Me: Doing good. Driving to work.

Her: Who are you teaching today? Will there be any I-D-10-T perpetrators?
(She freaking loved all the geek-speak for calling the end users morons.)

Me: Today it’s salespeople, which means I’ll be repeating myself alot. Tons of A.D.D. in this group. How are they treating you at Barnes? (Hospital in St. Louis where she was a patient way too often in her final years. She died at age 65.)

Her: I had to have a donkey barbecue with the nurse’s aide again.

Me: The same one as the last time? Commode Guy?

Her: The same one.

(Note: We called him Commode Guy because he kept leaving the room without shutting the top of the commode next to her bed, which enraged her.)

Me: Oh Lord…what happened?

Her: He left the lid up again! I had to talk the attending physician and the lung specialist with the lid up. It’s hard to look like a professional when your commode’s wide open.

Me: I can only imagine. I’m sorry, Mom. So what’d YOU do? (Because I knew she’d done  something.)

Her: As soon as they left, I rang the Call button and asked for the aide. When he came in, I  made him close the damn lid! Then I said, “Sir, there’s a word in the dictionary between diarrhea and dipshit. Do you know what it is?” And he said, “No ma’am.” So I said, “It’s DIGNITY and I’d like to keep what little I have left. Do NOT leave the lid up on my commode when you leave the room. Please.”

Me: *helpless laughter*

There was much, much more but that should give you the flavor of her, as will this post about her garage sale. She was the queen of the one-liner, especially when she was pissed off. Incidentally, a “donkey barbecue” is an ass chewing, just in case you missed the post I linked to above.

I miss how hard she made me laugh.
I miss how much easier she made my life, just by being herself.

Most of all I miss hearing her voice dance in my ear with her playful greeting of “Niffie! Niffie Poo-Poo...” It’s a nickname only a mother could get away with.

In honor of my mom, here’s a few cartoons from the Maxine Facebook page, just for you:

Are you missing anyone today, especially in the wake of September 11th? Do you have family nicknames that make no sense? What is your favorite friendship quote? Enquiring minds ALWAYS want to know these things here at More Cowbell!

Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
This entry was posted in Humor, Inspiration, Thoughty Thursday and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to Missing The Days of Niffie Poo

  1. zkullis says:

    Jenny, you sure do know how to move the heart and pluck its strings. So sorry to hear that you are trudging through this grief without such an amazingly supportive mother…

    During a recent visit to spend some quality time with my sweet Mom, she came up to me, slapped my gun (her unspoken concern about me having to carry a side arm), hugged me, and then playfully pinched my cheeks. She still calls me her “little blondie”.

    As a child I was a towhead. Age has darkened the hair slightly, but I’m still a blond. (A dirty blond if you ask the guys on my squad.) I adore the phrase little blondie, partly because I NEVER hear that from anybody else: I’m just over six foot, but I am 236 pounds with a fairly low body fat percentage, and I look a litle rough (even though I’m a Teddy Bear). The seats next to me on a train or bus are ALWAYS the last to be filled. 😦

    I will forever be “Little blondie”. But that’s okay, because my brother is “Dewa” and my sister is “Goose”. lol Little blondie isn’t so bad. Love you Mom!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I never sit next to you burly guys either, Zack. And it’s not because I’m afraid – it’s because y’all take up a lot of space!

      Little Blondie is the sweetest thing. Your mom sounds fantastic.🙂

      Like

  2. Thanks for sharing the voice of your mom, Jenny. My mom and I didn’t have those kind of conversations. She was of the stoic, suck-it-up, don’t complain, get-to-the-point variety, so yours was a treat to read.

    My dad and I became close when I got old enough that he didn’t have to worry about raising me anymore. But, he had a nickname for me that made no sense, and had no association with anything I’d done. Hunkydory. Haven’t thought about that in decades.

    Safe travels on your journey to uncover and deal with your grief. I suspect the words of whoever you pay will go through a subconscious “what would Mom think of that advice?” litmus test. Perhaps you should forewarn him/her that you might spontaneously shout “Poppycock!” during your sessions?

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Hunkydory is darling, Gloria! I love that nickname – it was probably how his world felt when he looked at you.🙂

      I know I’ll have safe travels on the grief front. I’ve got a good foundation for these sorts of things. Plus, Counselor Guy ROCKS!!!

      Like

  3. LauraDrake says:

    Dang it, will you stop making me cry at 4 am?! AND miss my mom? I love the anonymous quote – never heard that one before, and it’s so true.

    My two childhood nicknames are so embarrassing that they’re going to my grave with me (well, if I can get my brother to stop using them.) But my brother, I still call “Toto” and my sister was “Greg’ry.”

    For unremembered reasons.

    Your mom sure was a kick, Jenny – we know where your sense of humor came from!

    Like

    • zkullis says:

      “Your mom sure was a kick, Jenny – we know where your sense of humor came from!”

      That is the truth Laura!

      Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Yep, she’s definitely where it came from, except she was way funnier than I could ever be.

      I love that anonymous quote too – I think of that all the time when I think of her. And don’t for a second think, I’m not going to push at you tiil you cough up those nicknames!

      Like

  4. Emma says:

    Your mom sounds like a hoot. This is a lovely tribute to her.

    Like

  5. Diana Beebe says:

    What a beautiful and hilarious tribute to your mom! She has a special voice that you can still listen to as you heal your grief. **hugs**
    My least favorite nickname was “Dianasaur.” My sister started calling me “Dijanja” and the shortened version “Janja” in middle school–no clue why. They both stuck. My sibs still call me those names, but my sister’s children call me “Nay.” That one’s my favorite.

    Like

  6. This was beautiful and funny Jenny. Your mom would be proud of such a tribute because I get the feeling she was beautiful and funny too. I’m sorry you’re struggling with grief right now. It’s the strangest and sneakiest of all emotions. Just when you think it’s finally gone, or when you think you’re managing it, it finds a loophole or a backdoor.

    My mom’s nickname for me growing up was Chickadee. I’ve been trying to remember the weird nickname that my husband’s mom and uncle have for him, but I’m suffering from tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon. I’m going to be thinking about it all day now…

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Ohhhh! Chickadee is so cute. My mom called my brother Buzz, short for “BuzzBomb.” I love cute stuff like that that makes NO sense.

      Yep, grief is a sneaky bastard and I’m getting through it by finally stopping and letting it catch me. I’ll be fine, but I soooo appreciate your friendship and kind words.🙂

      Like

  7. Oh Jenny! I’m so sorry, but you were so blessed to have had such a wonderful relationship with your mother. Not all of us do. So I’m living vicariously through your amazing words and memories. May her name be a blessing.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Sweet, Renee! And now you’re building a wonderful relationship with your own child. That chance for a do-over is one of the soul-soothing aspects of parenting. Ex: I married a man who’s being the father to my daughter I wish I had. No one gets everything, but yes, I feel terribly blessed to have had my mom for 35 years.🙂

      And yes, I’m aware of the Jewish tradition of passing on a name of a beloved to a future generation. That was on purpose.🙂

      Like

  8. K.B. Owen says:

    Oh, Jenny. My heart goes out to you, hunny. Thank you for giving us that little “dialogue” – it shows, like no other, what your interchanges were like. What a special lady she must have been, and what a precious relationship you two had! Many of us, even if our mothers lived to be 90, wouldn’t experience that.

    Here’s a big ol’ internet hug for ya: {{ }}

    xoxo,
    Kathy

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’ll take your internet hug and raise you one! I actually was really happy writing this post. It brought my mom back to me for a bit which, as you can see, is always a fun thing.🙂

      Like

  9. Lottie Nevin says:

    Jenny, your Ma sounds an absolute delight and great fun and I know just how you must feel. At least you have wonderful happy memories and her converstions with you still in your head. My Mother was funny too. She had this party trick of lighting her farts (I know, so ladylike!!) one day the trick back-fired after a particularly violent ‘explosion’ and the combination of lighter fuel and natural gases set her knickers on fire!! true story……

    Oh and I love the cartoons! I went straight to facebook and liked the page so I can see more of them xoxo

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Oh my Gawd…..I’ve never actually heard of a female setting their drawers on fire!!! See? We can’t make this sort of thing up!

      Thanks for making me smile. I’m all over that Maxine FB page.🙂

      Like

  10. Julie Glover says:

    Some of our family members certainly did have larger-than-life personalities! I love hearing about your precious mother.

    My husband’s mother died a couple of months ago, and I know that he misses her even though he doesn’t say much. She was a force to be reckoned with in her own way and a stalwart for her family. What a difference a great mom can make!

    You’ve got my thoughts and prayers today, Jenny. I’m sure your mom would be proud of the mother you are to Baby Girl.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      See how you are? You got me all misty with the last paragraph of your comment!

      Yes, it’s hard to see the older generation in our family leave us. They were almost ALL forces to be reckoned with.🙂

      Like

  11. Stacy Green says:

    This post really got to me. I’m sorry you’re having a rough time, and I do understand. I’m lucky enough to still have my mother, but she is 70, a type 2 diabetic, and in stage 4 kidney failure. She could well be on dialysis by the end of the year. We are very close, talk daily, etc. I cannot imagine the day she won’t be there for me to call, and yet I think about it a lot. Anyway, I understand and will be thinking of you. Hugs:)

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You are lucky to have your mom and it’s lovely to see you appreciate her. It’s very difficult to watch them struggling with their health. I promise you, I am fine…I’ve just got to do the kind of work that I don’t LIKE to do. I’m sure I’ll feel like a new woman when I’m done.🙂

      Like

  12. amyshojai says:

    I have no words of wisdom only {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

    Like

  13. Jim Hansen says:

    Jenny, when you were just a little Niffer living in Falls Church, Virginia, I moved my family from Texas to Annandale, Virginia, just down the road from your family. Your mom made us feel right at home. Your mom was very special- just like you.
    Cousin Jim Hansen

    Like

  14. Sharla Rae says:

    Love this one Jen and the code talk too. See you later today for critique group.

    Like

  15. patodearosen says:

    Now I miss your mother!.Thanks, Jenny, for sharing her with us. (I’m off now to call my mom. She’s 88, and I appreciate the heck out of every minute I get to spend with her.)

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Pat, that’s fantastic that you’ve still got your mommy. I love seeing mothers and daughters walking around. All mamas should be showered in love.🙂

      Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  16. So sorry you no longer have your mother with you, Niffie Poo. I still have my mother – just not her brain.

    BTW, your mother was an unusual woman. I’ve never met one who knew how to lower a toilet lid. They all want to leave the seat down and the lid up. They expect men to raise the seat before use and lower it after use so they don’t have to move anything.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Oh, David, I’m sorry to hear your mom is ailing. I don’t know what’s better – to only have good memories or to have your parent for longer. I love that you go see her so often.🙂

      Like

  17. I totally feel your pain. I miss my mom too. Every. Single. Day. And that’s all I’m gonna say, because now I’m crying and can’t type any more. She was 69 when she passed away 4 years ago.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    Like

    • Karen McFarland says:

      I’m sending you a huge {{hug}} Patricia! I totally understand.🙂

      Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Ahhhh, Patricia. There’s nothing quite like losing your parent that young. I’m so sorry for your loss.

      I don’t think I drew an easy breath until the third year after she passed. And the only time I was happy, for even a moment, that she was gone was when I had a near-death experience that would have traumatized the hell out of her.

      Now, 8 years later, I can smile in my memories of her and tell all her funny stories without crying or being sad. But I still miss her and I still wish desperately that my daughter could have met her Grandma.

      Like

  18. Karen McFarland says:

    Aw Jenny, I love the sound of your Mom and she’s not even my Mom. *sniff* How it saddens me that I don’t have a mother like that. But I did have my mother-in law who was my saving grace. Can I just tell you how much I loved that woman. What a blessing she was to me. She was more of a Mom than my own mother ever hoped to be. And of course, she would die. Oh how I grieved for her. My husband and I still grieve for her. As you know, we lost three parents in a three and a half year span. It was total hell. I don’t remember half of it. We were on auto-pilot. First it was my Dad, then my father-in-law, then my mother-in-law. It was just plan nuts.

    I loved the lesson your mother so graciously bestowed upon Commode Guy. Dignity. What a woman. Jenny, I am so proud of you for taking care of yourself. We all need someone to talk us through the rough times. I’ve been there myself. You will feel so relieved as if a huge load was lifted off your shoulders. You rock girl! Take care.🙂

    Like

    • Karen McFarland says:

      P.S. I hope that you use that special conversation in one of your books someday in honor of your sweet Mom Jenny!🙂

      Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Those wonderful in-laws are a gift, aren’t they? I received that gift in my father-in-law. He was the daddy I wished I’d gotten and he went far too soon. I’ll never understand why the loss all happens at once, crushing us to the point of breakage, but it seems like that’s always the way it goes.

      Thanks for your friendship, and your encouraging words. You’re a sweetie pie.🙂

      Like

  19. amyskennedy says:

    Thank you for sharing a little bit of your mom with us today. It made me happy and sad at the same time.

    Like

  20. I am blessed to have both of my parents still living, but each time I see them, I wonder if it will be the last. A beautiful tribute to your mom. Big hugs!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Pauline, it’s wonderful how much you appreciate them. As you know, we can only live inside each moment. Hugs to you with your parents!

      Like

      • When my mom lost her mother, she said, now there is no one left who remembers me as a child, who knew me “when.” I sort of got it, but as I’ve gotten older and that time of separation approaches, I do understand what she meant. Hugs back!

        Like

  21. Catie Rhodes says:

    As usual, I’m late. I really loved you sharing this part of your history with me. It gave me a lot of insight into how you became the fantastic person you are. There’s a word between between diarrhea and dipshit. I love this. And I love donkey bbq. You’re great. I’m glad I met you.

    ((hugs))

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      LOL…I’m late to every party too, Catie. No worries. I always like the guests that come at the end of the party.🙂

      Comments like this and people like you are why I bless social media. Would we ever be able to see into the heart of people as we do without it? Unlikely. You are a blessing too, my friend. Definitely a blessing.

      Like

  22. Jane Sadek says:

    At 3 AM on 9/11 I met an ambulance at the hospital. My 91 year old father had fallen after getting up to go to the bathroom. Come to find out he had a raging bladder infection. He’s still in the hospital and I’m amazed at how little nurture there seems to be in nursing community these days. Thankfully, there are some outstanding exceptions to the rule and I’m wearing myself out writing letters about them, but for the most part, the nurses and aides seem to be more interested in traipsing up and down the hall with their mobile computer gadgets than they are in caring for their patients.

    Like

  23. “Sir, there’s a word in the dictionary between diarrhea and dipshit. Do you know what it is?” And he said, “No ma’am.” So I said, “It’s DIGNITY and I’d like to keep what little I have left.” – Thank you to your dear mom for this brilliant quote. As you and so many others of us know, Jenny, grief is hard and it never leaves us … even when it is managed and under control. There is a scar that burns forever but I like to think that it becomes a brilliant reminder of the memories left by our loved one. We honour them by keeping those memories alive such as you do when you share your mother’s with us. Keep working to turn your pain into gratitude for the time you did have together. I know it’s not always easy .{{{hugs}}}}

    Like

  24. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    This post made me laugh and cry. Your mother was awesome, which explains where you get it from. I’m so sorry she’s gone. 65 is young. I can’t bear to think of the day I lose my mom or dad. This is a beautiful tribute, Jenny.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Lynn! Yes, she was far too young to die – it pained her to run out of time so quickly and leave us alone. Still, I always give her credit for giving me the really important lessons as soon as possible. She was a simply fabulous mom and nothing makes me happier than to be compared to her.🙂

      Like

  25. So beautiful. What an incredible tribute….and it makes my heart break because I can only imagine how deeply you miss her.
    I’d give anything to hear my Dad’s voice…to see him fishing….to cuddle up to him while he reads…to feel a hug from him…to hear his laughter…
    Alas…I remember!

    Like

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