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Paul Coates -- Confidential File, April 1, 1959

April 1, 2009 |  2:00 pm

Confidential File

My Mom Loves Me, in a Sinister Fashion

Paul_coatesI'm a member, in good standing, of the grossly sentimental school which maintains, despite statistical evidence to the contrary, that a boy's best friend is his mother.

When all others fail you, she'll come smiling through. She loves you because of your faults, not in spite of them. "M" is for the million things she gave you.

Stuff like that.

And no matter how many miles may separate you from her, it's always a comfort to know that you can call and keep in touch.

So, the other day, beset by the cares of a troubled world and a wife who understands me too well, I dialed the long-distance operator and called home.

"Mom," I cried when she answered. "Guess who."

"How do you feel, sonny?" she said, cutting through the frivolity.

"Feel fine," I told her.

"Umm," she murmured in a tone tinged with doubt.

"Just fine," I said again.

"You sound tired," she suggested.

"Not a bit."

"Are you keeping something from me?" she asked hopefully.

I assured her that I wasn't keeping anything from her. She fell silent and I continued:

 "Of course, there was a thing a few weeks ago."

"What thing?" she demanded.

"Well, the doctor said my cholesterol was too high."

"Hah!" she cried triumphantly. "I knew it. I knew it."

"It's nothing, though," I went on hastily.

"Nothing?" she snorted. "It's a very serious thing. People are dropping like flies."

"But I had it tested just a few days ago, mother dear. And the doctor said it was down to normal."

"Doctors!" she said bitterly. "Who can believe doctors?"

"But ..."

"They only tell you what you want to hear."

"But the tests showed..."

"Tests!" she snapped. "Tests don't mean a thing.

Living Is So Fatal

"We have a neighbor," she went on. "Never a sick day in his life. Tip-top condition. Woke up one morning feeling like a million. And that night ..."

"Dead?" I asked.

"Umm hmm," she replied.

"Cholesterol?" I asked.

"It wasn't from a head cold," she told me.

"So," she concluded, "tests or not tests, you can never tell."

"Goodbye, mom," I said with a feeling of finality.

" 'Bye, son," she replied. "And don't worry. Worry's the worst thing for a person in your condition."

Note: I always get nervous when Coates writes about his health, knowing, as he couldn't have known, that he would die he was 47--lrh.