​​Because humor is funnier when you know it's true.

Get the bucket – Mom’s marriage advice


My mom was a study in contrasts, a very sharp woman who quoted Shakespeare and Poe well into her 90s, yet whose declarations often smacked more of Yogi Berra. “You don’t need to pay him,” she once advised me when her neighbor changed my tire. “Just give him some money.”

Any conversation with my mom could yield a bonanza of “Berra-isms.” Years ago, suspecting she’d developed a blood clot in her leg, I rushed her to the ER, where the doctor confirmed my diagnosis and warned my mother away from the knee-high stockings she was sporting. “Absolutely the worst thing you can wear for circulation,” he scolded.

“Oh, I don’t actually wear them,” she explained. “I just put them on.”

When she was discharged a few hours later, she instructed me to pull the car up to the ER door and “beep the horn” for her. When I protested, insisting that blowing a car horn in a hospital zone was frowned upon, she replied, “No, of course, don’t beep; just toot.”

Along with unintentional humor, there was often a loopy kind of logic as well as a pearl of wisdom hiding within the shell of my mom’s convoluted phrasing. I now know her explanation of menopause to be all too true. “It’s like you become dumb for no apparent reason,” she told my sisters and me.

But her marriage advice to my sisters and me was Mom at her most hilariously inscrutable best. “Sometimes,” she counseled us, “you just have to get the bucket.”

“What bucket?” we asked, utterly confused, but sensing a “Berra-ism” in the making.

“Well, say he’s fixing something and he loses his patience, so he barks at you to bring him something he needs, like the bucket,” she began. (For the record, that was a pretty accurate description of my dad’s behavior when he got impatient with a project.)

“And you don’t feel like being ordered around and getting the bucket,” she continued. “Go in the bathroom and repeat just as mad as you want, ‘I’m not getting him that GD bucket’ until you feel better. And then go get him the bucket.”

When our howling over her head-scratching choice of a metaphor subsided, we all balked at what hit our liberated ears as advice to be submissive and stifle our feelings, so we dismissed it as another kooky mom anecdote.

Now as a twice-married adult, I realize my mom was really saying that in marriage you have to give, bend and sometimes get the GD bucket, even when you don’t particularly want to. Sometimes practicing patience and biting your tongue—or venting your frustration in the bathroom if necessary!—in the short run is the wisest choice in the long run.

It was the choice I myself made the other morning when I was awakened by my husband bellowing that our kitchen sink had sprung a sizable leak.

“Quick, get me the bucket!” he yelled urgently.

I leapt out of bed and hustled to the kitchen, bucket in hand. And, I didn’t even stop in the bathroom on the way.

As my husband and I mopped up the mess, I couldn’t help thinking my mom was looking down from heaven, having a good chuckle at our expense. Pearls of wisdom? More like wisdom more precious than pearls. Thanks, Mom.

-Lee Gaitan

Lee Gaitan is the award-winning author of Falling Flesh Just Ahead, and the Amazon #1 bestseller My Pineapples Went to Houston—Finding the Humor in My Dashed Hopes, Broken Dreams and Plans Gone Outrageously Awry. She has also authored chapters in the bestselling books, The Divinity of DogsFeisty After 45 and Angel Bumps as well as the award-winning These Summer Months. Her work has been featured on The Huffington PostErma Bombeck Humor Writers’ WorkshopThe Good Men ProjectMothers Always Write and Bella Grace among others. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and dog.


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Books: My Pineapples Went to Houston; Falling Flesh Just Ahead:

http://www.leegaitan.com/books-2/