Thursday, June 21, 2007

Never Miss An Opportunity to Keep Your Mouth Shut

Monday, day two of the trifecta, the Weebles had an appointment at their primary care physician. I arrived to hear Ma singing the lament of no one doing anything for her. I was going to point out she didn’t have to walk to the doctor’s office, but decided it would be best for me to keep my mouth shut.

She noticed I was alone and wanted to know why the girls weren’t with me.

“They’re teens. They don’t want to be with old people.”

“I’m not old, I’m their grandmother. They should be here.”

I tried to keep the ‘Help me, Lord’ look off my face.

“You were never left alone.”

I shouldn’t have risen to the bait, but I did. I reminded her she worked, and was not home in the afternoons. I had my own key to the house when I was seven years old. I was a latch-key child only we didn’t have that term back then.

My keychain was attached to the side buttonhole of my uniform jumper. When I forgot or lost my key, Himself, who grew up next door, would break into my parent’s house to let me in. Usually, Himself enlisted the aid of his skinny Middle Brother. At that time, we had a 9 pane bow window. Two of the upper windows were like transoms. Himself would get Dad’s ladder, haul the Middle Brother up the ladder, pry open the transom and push the Middle Brother through while holding onto his legs to try to lower him the 4 foot drop to the sill. The Middle Brother would then unlock the front door to let me in. When Himself wasn’t around, I sat on the front steps waiting for someone, usually The Brother, to come.

I didn’t tell her about Himself breaking into the house. I didn’t tell her about the exciting times with The Brother, ever creative. Lighter fluid squirted into the toilet, set alight with a cigarette lighter, and flushed in a swirling blue flame. A hair raising ride ass over teakettle, in a sealed, cardboard box down a flight of stairs. Being told a cigarette was a punk and when I took a puff like the older, cool kids and began to choke, I was rushed over to The Brother’s friend’s where they put the garden hose down my throat and turned the water on full force. Water fights with basins of water that soaked the walls and were dried with a box fan. Shaken bottles of ketchup that exploded, and a red rose bloomed on the ceiling (forty years later the stain still bleeds through!) Sitting on the roof while The Brother pinged birds and dogs with a BB gun. Putting piles of pennies on the tracks of the subway while waiting for the trolley to take us to Grandma’s house. Yup, never alone and never well supervised.

Ma seemed surprised at the doctor’s office when she was asked to give a blood and urine sample. Of course, she blamed Dad.

“You didn’t tell me we were having tests.”
“For heaven’s sakes, Ma, you’re here every other week. You should know by now that you will have a blood and urine test.”

“We’re supposed to go have the tests a week before our appointment.”

“Save me a trip. The doctor will have the test results later in the afternoon. If something is wrong, he’ll call you.”

Back at the house, I put the kettle on for tea. Made a mental note to pick up milk and bring it the following day. I was not going to get roped into a trip to Market Basket for a gallon of milk.

At the table, Ma sighed. “I want to go into a nursing home.”

I almost said, “From your mouth to God’s ear”, but kept my mouth shut. I just sipped my tea. Angel 2Wasn’t going to poke that bear for love nor money. On the surface it sounded as if Ma realized she needed round the clock help. Couldn’t be further from the truth. Ma would like either myself or The Brother to take them in. Neither one of us have the room for one, or the energy and inclination. Ma was hinting since The Eldest would be heading off to college, I’d have a spare room. Help me, Lord, I’d check myself into the nursing home, first.


Erica Vetsch said...

Love the picture. You and The Brother sure had some wild times, and Himself was a rescuing gentleman even then. :)

Alesia said...

OHMIGOD - I want to set fire to lighter fluid in the toilet.

Our mutual Canadian friend is also hoping & praying to get her mother into assisted living - time to light some candles!!