One way her mother would try to teach them a life lesson was by having them spell hard words. For example, in the book it says, “Spell ‘poinsettia,” Mother would throw out at me, smiling with pleasure. “Spell ‘sherbet.” The idea was not to make us whizzes, but, quite the contrary, to remind us---and I, especially, needed reminding---that we didn’t know it all just yet.” Another thing she would do was say there was a deer standing in the front hall, and when Dillard would say really she would reply “No. I just wanted to tell you something once without your saying I know.’”
Dillard loved many other personal qualities in her mother. Another one is how her mother loved to tell jokes that many other people didn’t understand. She adored anyone who could meet her verbal challenges. She once had surgery on her eye and before she went under she ask the surgeon if she could ever play the piano again expecting him to say yes. Instead he said that she couldn’t pull that joke on him. She loved that he caught her joke.
One joke Dillard’s mother loved to play on her children involved people who called the wrong number. She would tell the caller to wait a minute and would give the phone to her children saying “It’s for you”, or “Here, take this, your name is Cecile.”
Dillard’s mother also never liked to have things dull or too serious. During games she would throw out random rules to liven up the game. Also, if you turned your back for too long she would move your bored piece. Then once you got them all straightened out she denied ever touching them. If you turned your back again she would line them up on the rug or under their chair. During the game rummy she would play out of turn, call out cards she did not have or count backwards just to amuse...