Friday, January 28, 2011

TV Madness

My husband and I got a new TV. What a blast. I have had a very expensive nice TV armoire for years – one of the few classy pieces in my house. My old 27 inch TV fit perfectly and I just did not want to part with the armoire….so I waited and waited. Now we have a 50 incher hanging on the wall- sleek and bright and well – complicated to run. When we brought it home Mom was right in the middle.
Now, you must understand, my hub has moved us at least 20 times in our lives and has been the go-to person for every schmuck who doesn’t have enough friends to help him move. So the hub and our oldest son are carrying the old TV out. Mom, in her bossy mommy way begins to direct them. I heard it from the kitchen.
I wasn’t fast enough. Here are the details.
“For heaven’s sakes, there is a vase there.”
“So there is.”
“Watch out! Watch out! You are going to knock it over. Why didn’t you move the table first?”
In runs K. “Mom, mom, let’s sit on the couch and not watch.”
“What about the vase! It…”
Then suddenly it happened. The hub lost his temper.” If I need your help I will ask you. How many TV’s have YOU moved out the door, WOMAN!” (I wish he wouldn’t have called my mother WOMAN!) Then the worst came. “This is MY house and I will do what I dang well please and if I break the vase my wife will clean it up and no one will say a word.” Why did he have to get me in the mix!
Tears welled up in mom’s eyes. She knew she had said too much. Ugly darting glances – the ugliest I could do went shooting straight through his eyes. I saw that “don’t mess with me now look” but I was brave - I glared anyway. I said, “If you break the vase YOU will clean it up!” . That was that. We were all mad. I took my mother’s side. 24 hours later when we all began talking again my mother apologized. I felt so sorry for her because what is she suppose to do? She has no home of her own to go to and the hub made it painfully clear this was NOT her home….she locked herself in her room. I sat in with her and watched a movie that night. I made up with the hub before bed and he felt guilt ridden.

I guess I am not the only one learning patience.……….K

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Christmas Robbery

So, I am running a Christmas errand for my mother. She shopped herself( which means I drive, I carry the purses, I push the wheel chair, I carry the bags to the car and I buy lunch). She loves to be able to make those decisions and I want to give that to her even though I feel like a pack mule half the time. She needed to mail packages because my brothers all lived out of state. (Mailing her packages means I find or buy boxes, I stuff them, tape them and take them to the postal store and skip lunch that day – which I did.) Thankfully she has given me a credit card on her account so I can run errands for her without her having to be with me. I used her card. It was denied. “Odd.” I thought. So I used mine. $38.00 to mail a box with $35.00 of stuff.
I had suggested she buy lightweight things. “They don’t want “light weight things”, she said to me mockingly,tilting her head back and forth as she said it - with frustration in her voice. She had an agenda at the store and gifts in mind. I must admit she generally is a good shopper…but why send a hammer and a 2 pound box of candy when you could send the money and the cost of shipping? But anyway –back to the story - the credit card was denied.
I called her to find out if there was a problem and her first comment was, “Don’t worry dear. Just stay at work.”
“Stay at work? What do you mean? Why are you saying that?”
“The police have already talked to me and I am home now.”
“WHAT!!?!?!? What did the police talk to you about? Where were you that they talked to you?”
“Grocery Store.”
“Grocery Store? And…what else, what else?” I was getting frustrated because I had skipped lunch and mailed her packages using my lunch money and was running late to get back to work for a meeting with nothing for lunch but two pieces of gum and my mother was having an emergency while I wasn't there.
“I was robbed.”
“Robbed! Are you okay? Did they hurt you? Were you in the grocery store? The parking lot? Where were…
“Now there you go getting all upset. I have to finish cancelling all my credit cards. I cannot talk now.”
“Good Grief.” I thought. Two weeks before Christmas and some slick mugger robbed my poor little 85-year old mother and she is too busy to tell me about it. “I am coming home. “ I will be there in 45 minutes.”
Then she started – that staccato voice thing where every word is accented like the sharp ping of a high C. “I sa-a-ai-i-i-d-d – You – don’t-have-to-worry. I-have-everything-under-control. Stay-at-work-and-behave.” Was she mad at me? I began to realize that she wasn’t okay – her blood pressure was probably through the roof. I had to start being the mother in this conversation. Take a deep breath! I knew I was not going to get all the answers now.
“Mom, have you contacted all of your banks and card companies? Make a list and mark them off one by one. I will see you in a little bit.” I called my son who was much closer and he ran over to the house to be with her. I got home a half hour later. My son helped her work through everything and she was very relieved to see her daughter come home. Her twitchy eye and tear-filled gaze told me it had been more difficult than her words portrayed.
She had befriended two girls looking at cards. While one distracted her the other took her wallet and replaced it with a similar one – so the grocer’s security tape showed. They were professionals. Though we know what they look like we don’t know who they are. I would like to slap them around I want to steal their wigs and their makeup and their clothes and their…. I guess I have to leave their punishment in the hands of the Lord. He is better at revenge than I am.
I must resist the urge to take revenge myself. I made us both hot chocolate and she told me everything.

Patiently resisting………...the urge for revenge~

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Reliving Sorrows

We have a bunch of old family videos which the family has always loved to get out and watch every few years. My grandkids have them memorized. “There’s grandma again chasing her dog around the yard.” “Look at mommy in the stroller. Grandma that is a funny pair of jeans you have one?” “Look at me! Look at me! I am opening Christmas presents in my diapers!” We always watch them in chronological order. It is like one three hour session of my life from 5 years old to 60 years old. The passage of time is painful, as I wave at the TV when my father, now gone, is silly and waves to the camera. My granddaughter always says, “Wave to great Grandpa!” pause………. “I miss him.”

I try not to be melancholy because my mother is sitting right next to me. She always sighs when HER mother passes by the video in her little pillbox hat and mother’s day corsage and says, “She was always so proper.” But she is dead silent when she and Dad are in the videos. She stares, resolutely with a faint painted smile. I put the videos out of reach and view. Maybe we won’t have to watch them again.

Tonight, while I think about the videos, mom is sitting in her room, reliving the entire funeral which was videotaped. Dad has been gone a year and 9 months and she has never watched it. She is sobbing – only slightly. What do I do? Do I comfort her? Dismiss it? Minimize it? Tell her to stop? I don’t want to go through that pain again. Why does she? I don’t like what death does to my life or hers. I don't like having to face things I don't want to face when I don't want to face them.

I wanted to come home tonight, eat ice cream and watch something dumb like Say Yes to the Dress! But instead……………………………………..

Patiently reliving my sorrows.~

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Weekend Getaway

Taking a little weekend trip with my hubby means a lot more to me these days; a chance for the two of us to get away and drive out of the cloudiness of the aging into the sunny open road of youth. Doesn’t matter much where we are headed as long as the cares stay at home. That means Mom too….and I really don’t mean that in a bad way. Stop it guilt! You stop that right now!!! Go stand in the corner until I tell you to come out.

We came home Saturday afternoon after two activity-packed days of indulgent moments all about me…excuse me, us. I was thrilled but exhausted. As the clouds began to gather the closer we got to home, my thoughts turned to Mom. I didn’t call her for two days. I hoped she was okay, was able to get her meals and turn the lights out and lock the doors. My adult kids had checked in on her but I didn’t call her….I said “ IN THE CORNER!” Anyway……….we arrived home.

“Welcome home!”

“Thanks Mom! Everything go okay?” She waited at the door with expectant excitement. I couldn’t help but see her as part of our entourage with the three happily yapping dogs. She wanted to kiss my cheek and give me a hug. I had suitcases, shopping bags, purse, a drink and a few other items tucked between my arms and body. I leaned in and hugged her back, while my saint of a husband caught the falling impedimenta.

For the next three hours as I unpacked, read mail, made supper, did laundry, and cleaned up she followed me from room to room sharing every detail of her books she read, her emails she received, the TV shows she watched, and the crossword puzzles that confounded her. I am proud to say I listened patiently and responded as though I cared.

My weekend DID revive me. I DID care. Not about her conversation, but about her smile as she talked, her laugh over something she found entertaining, her unmasked delight in having my attention and ear.

I remember the day I came home from Girl Scout Camp. I missed my Mama. I could talk and talk and she would listen to EVERYTHING I said with great interest. (Don’t tell me the truth – let me believe what I want - my 10 year old perception is sacred!) I told her everything we did at camp and every fanciful imagination in my chatty little head that I wanted her to believe happened. When my wind ran out, she said with a little pat on the head, “Thank you so much for sharing with me. I enjoy hearing about your adventures.”

We watched a movie together; she said good night.



“Thanks for chatting today. I enjoyed hearing about your days.” She sighed cheerfully as she limped to her room.

Patience does indeed have its benefits! ~K

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hostess Manners

Don’t you just love a party? I could hang out and eat and laugh and act silly just about any ole time. We had friends over for a Labor Day cookout. We did the meat and veggies and everyone brought side dishes and drinks. We are all long-time friends and everyone knows their way around my kitchen.

I couldn’t wait to try out my new baskets for the grill. Got ‘em at Lowe’s. Coolest things. I cut up kabob sized meat and veggies, marinated them over night in a lime barbeque and put them in the well oiled baskets. And then - to the grill! We stirred them twice and what a feast! I poured them out on the table over brown paper on top of butcher paper and put all the side dishes around.

We called the gang to the kitchen and everyone dug in. Mom usually will stay seated and let me serve her food. As I was running around I heard over the buzz of voices…aghummm. I continued to get ice in the cooler, add some forks to the table, ….a little louder…


“Oh, Mom, would you like me to get your plate now?”

“Yes, that would be very nice. Not too many beans though.”

So I break line and fix her a plate. She loves the hubbub of activity and the service during our get-togethers. “Oh my goodness what a lot of food! I don’t think I can eat it all.”

“Do you want something to drink?”

“Water is fine.”

The guys were hanging outside finishing their drinks so I dug in with the ladies and came to the living room to find a seat. My mouth was preparing me, my mind savoring the flavor all the way from the kitchen to the chair….and then…….

“Good heavens, K! You haven’t served your guests and you have just seated your self and started eating. Where are your manners?”

“Mom, they will all serve themselves. That’s what we always do.”

“Well, that is probably what you always do because you have always neglected to serve your guests. You should be embarrassed.”

I think I took my first bite – I don’t know.

Is guilt the bitter herb of patience? ~K

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I used to like going to the grocery store….okay…..that may be a stretch. I use to dislike going to the grocery store a whole lot less than I dislike it now. But it is not the grocery store’s fault. It is really nobody’s fault.

It has become a ritual that mother looks forward to all week. We have our little grocery purchasing plan. She buys her special foods and I buy main meal items. She has her shopping list ready. I don’t know why she makes one because she buys the same thing each week...individual serving containers of applesauce, peaches, tapioca, jello, and a loaf of rye bread. But she is a list person. There are no less than 15 little lists – all over the house. They are the backs of envelopes, old church bulletins, the margin of magazine pages – all the while she has an entire drawer dedicated to cute little notepads she has received as gifts.

Someday, I am sure I will write about her lists, like the time she gave me a list to shop for her - but oops – that was last month’s and now we have two of everything on that list and none of the necessary items from this month’s list.

So back to the grocery store. Mother is inordinately slow. She hates it. She hated it in her mom, so I try to minimize it. We start out in the dairy aisle, the wisdom of which I question considering the time it takes us to shop. She won’t let me push her in a wheelchair because “she doesn’t want to be a bother.” So she slowly makes her way through the aisles and stops, looking through coupons, then reaches for the butter – somehow managing to take up the entire aisle between her cane and her reach.

Others politely wait, tapping their feet, aghhumming, and wryly smiling as she turns with a startle and says , “Oh! Pardon me!”

She then moves away from the cooler to let others by. Of course, she hasn’t picked up the butter yet so she starts the task over. I grab it quickly and say, “No worries, I’ve got it.”

My usual 35 minute grocery store trip becomes an hour and a half and I struggle to be civil near the end. I apologize to those around me and once in a while I receive those knowing sympathetic glances…… which I would appreciate if they did not come with, “Enjoy her while you can. I miss my mine.”

My mind shouts, “I am NOT enjoying this moment. Thankyouverymuch!”

But my heart quickens and I fill with shame that I am so annoyed. And I suddenly remember hanging onto the grocery cart loudly begging for Cocoa Puffs while a tall beautiful, slender woman quickly catches the falling package of baby cereal my toddler brother tossed toward the floor. I remember the breeze of her housedress sweeping past my face and the gentle giggle of her voice as she says to the grocer who was stacking shelves and was nearly decked with the cereal box, “Pardon me!”

So I will cope and be patient. I will!! I will be like Olive Oyl, with arms flying and stretching toward both sides of the grocery aisle, grabbing items wildly – my mother unaware – so that this deplorable task can end a few minutes sooner and she – none the wiser.

Lord, I now know why patience is called a virtue! ~K

Sunday, August 29, 2010

It's puzzling

I just threw it away today. The 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle with 999 pieces. I wonder if I had counted them before we started, would I still have started? Well, that is probably pointless mind-wandering because I was the follower and mom was the leader. I didn't start it - she did. My mom loves puzzles - crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, sudoku and other such wastes of good productive time.

It was a rainy Friday evening and we were looking for something to do together. She has a stash of jigsaw puzzles, gifts from children and grandchildren, each one with a story about who gave it, when it was given and how easy or hard it was to assemble. But there was that one box, rather oddly shaped as an oblong octagon. It had a foreboding picture of little vignettes of Bible stories, woven together with water and sky and sand and dessert sand dunes. I know, it sounds weird - it IS weird. It was unopened, standing on end, the seal just waiting to be broken.

"Mom, why have you never done that puzzle?" I so foolishly asked.

“Do you see how many pieces it has?” Mom said with a flirtatious challenge to her voice.

"Shoot we could do that together - no problem." Said I with 5th grade confidence; the only one in the room who had not done a puzzle since 5th grade.

So we cleared the dining room table after supper and by 2:00 a.m. we finally hit the sack – the border complete. Saturday, I learned why I never do puzzles. They are just one more task that MUST be done, no matter what it takes. By noon, still in our jammies, we had another four hours of grueling puzzling under our belts. We were partners – working tirelessly side-by-side, organizing by color and shape, testing, trying and cheering each other’s victories. What a team!

Time stood still, as my husband began to wonder what was for dinner, was I going to do laundry, clean the house, go to the grocery store, get dressed! Thank goodness for frozen pizzas.

My back hurt, my eyes were burning, but I wasn’t going to quit until the task was done. I found out my mom dated my Dad’s best army buddy once – to spite him no less. She was quite popular in high school, didn’t know that either. I finally told her the truth about the clothes I bought on her credit card, she said she already knew.

By 11:00 p.m. we were exhausted and we discovered there was a missing puzzle piece. I am glad I didn’t know that when we started. I would have missed too much – more than just a piece of a puzzle.

Patiently putting the pieces together - K~