Friday, August 31, 2007

Grandpa's Internet Cafe

At a recent family gathering, Dad was congratulating himself on the money he was saving on his phone bill. I was glad he was happy.

Since The Eldest was heading off to college after the last doctor visit, we decided to surprise Grandma and Grandpa with a visit. They were delighted to see the grandkids, and the girls happily suffered through the hugs and kisses and then escaped upstairs to play on Grandpa's computer.

After a half an hour of small talk, Dad decided he had to show me the modem that was installed for the FIOS. He was proud of the small, black tower with flashing lights. I was glad he was happy.

I turned my attention to the monitor.

"Oh, I don't know what that is, so I turn it off," explained Dad.

Rolling Eyes Help me, Lord! Windows was trying to update. There were so many updates, the poor CPU choked trying to keep up. The virus protection was also out of date.

When I tried to log on, his ISP informed me the account was cancelled and had to be reinstated to activate his account under FIOS which was installed last month.

"You haven't turned the machine on since the technician was here, have you." I meant it as a statement of fact and not a question.


Rolling Eyes

I tried to re-establish the account so the virus shield could be updated. Course, we were running late so I couldn't see it to the end. I made a note to arrive early next Tues. before I have to take Ma to the foot doctor.

Himself stopped the other day to mow the lawn. While there, he had a brilliant idea. He told Dad because of the FIOS, the way to turn the machine on and off was to push the button on the monitor. This way, the machine would always be running to do Windows updates and the virus shield.

Since Dad doesn't really use the computer, if you are in the area, I invite you to park in front of Dad's house. You'll have a ready Wi-Fi hot spot. Fire up your laptop and follow the wizard to establish the network connection. Welcome to Grandpa's Internet Café!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tea and Sympathy

When the stress of shouldering the world gets to be too much, a vacation is just the ticket to restore harmony to body and soul. A vacation need not be to an exotic destination. All that is needed is a break from the routine. A walk, a visit to a friend, a day in the library or other favorite place can do wonders to lift the spirit.

When Ma bogged him down, Dad would drive himself to the hospital, announce to the ER desk, he felt he was having a heart attack. Instantly, he’d be surrounded by a doctor, nurses and technicians. He’d endure the pokes, prods, samples and in no time he’d be admitted and hooked up to telemetry for observation.

The nurses and lab technicians would tell him he didn’t look like a man in his 80's. They would bring him custard and ginger ale. He would bloom under the attention. He would flirt with the nurses and after 3 days or whenever the insurance would kick him out, he would return home a new man. Ma would have new respect for how much Dad really did around the house and they would comfortably slip into their rut.

Last week in the middle of the daily update from the contractor on the progress of the bathroom renovation, the phone rang. There was a cough, a wheeze, a sneeze and raspy breathing. If it wasn’t for caller ID, I’d assume it was a crank call.

“I won’t be able to walk downtown to mail you the payment for the telephone bill,” Dad croaked.

“Don’t worry about that. What’s wrong with you?”

“I don’t feel so good. I’ve been coughing and my throat is sore. I think I better go to the hospital.”

Now my first instinct was to worry. “You can’t walk up there in this heat! I’ll call Himself at school. He has an early day so he can swing by and take you.”

“No, I don’t want to bother him.”

“He’ll take you.”

“No, no, I…I can make it.”

Then it hit me. In Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, Marc Antony offers the laurel crown to Caesar to become Emperor.

“Cesare, c’mon. Take the crown. You’re the best man for the job.”

“No, really, Antony, I’m not worthy.”

“We need you to be Emperor!”

“No, I…I can’t.”

“Please, take the crown”

“Oh, alright, if you insist.”

That’s what Dad was doing. Dad was refusing the offer of a ride. How sick could he be if couldn't walk to the post office to mail the phone bill payment, but he could walk the extra mile to the hospital. He just wanted a little tea and sympathy. It had been a good 5 or 6 years since he had a little vacation at St. Elegius’ Hospital. He just needed a little time away from Ma and her homeopathic cure for the common cold, a good swig of vinegar and lemon juice with a salt water chaser. He’s lucky. When I was a kid, her cure du jour was a Fleet.

So, I clucked sympathetically. “Do you still have your white belt and white shoes?”

“Yes, why?”

“If you want a vacation, instead of checking into the hospital for a few days, it might be cheaper to book a trip to Florida.”

Friday, August 17, 2007

Wedding Bell Blues

I was sputtering when I opened up the invitation sized envelope.

“What’s got your panties in a bunch?” Himself asked.

“We got a save the date magnet from my cousin George’s daughter.”

“Save the date?”

“Yeah, a notice that she’s engaged to be married, supposed to be sent out 8 months to a year before the wedding date. Except this one is for a wedding this October.”

“Ok, so you’re bent out of shape because they didn’t follow Emily Post wedding etiquette?”

“No, I’m bent out of shape because I’m just a gift.”

“I’m not following.”

“I haven’t seen Annie since she was 4 years old. Haven’t seen Cousin George since he gave Uncle George a surprise birthday party 4 or 5 years ago. See? I’m just a gift. And I know Ma’s going to want to go. She’ll have a new captive audience to sing the ‘He’s Stupid Song’ to. I don’t want to go.”

Himself looked at the magnet with the bride and groom’s name and wedding date. “Hey, this is the first Sat. in October. Isn’t your year long calligraphy class meeting the first Saturday of the month?”

“Yes! You’re brilliant!”

“Hey, that’s why I get the big bucks.”

So I didn’t sweat the issue when the invitation arrived. I checked off the ‘will not attend’ box on the reply card, and thought this would be the end. Then there was the phone call from Dad.

“Did you get an invitation to the wedding?”

“Yes, but I’m not going.”

There was a very long pause on the other end of the line. A pause, like the line went dead or a pause because I had blurted out that I was the kidnapper of the Lindberg baby. “Dad? You still there.”

“Yes. Your mother will want to go to this wedding.”

I felt the familiar pain form behind my left eye. “I told you, I’m not going…”

“But it’s family!”

“Family? Hello! This girl wouldn’t know me from a hole in the wall! I’m just a gift! I haven’t seen or heard from Cousin George since I got invited to Uncle George’s birthday where I was another gift. I’m not going because I signed up to take a year long calligraphy class and it happens to meet on that day.”

I thought that was going to be the end and then there was another phone call from Dad.

“Your mother wants to go to the wedding.”

“Fine, I’m not stopping her, but I can’t drive you. I told you I have a class that day and can’t go. You do realize that this wedding isn’t until 5:30 pm.”


“The wedding ceremony isn’t until 5:30 pm at Piney Point at the church. If she has a Mass, you won’t be getting out until 6:30 or 7pm. Then you have to go to the hotel in Boston. The bridal party will need an hour for photographs. The reception won’t be starting until 8pm. Honestly, I don’t think Ma will be able to take the day. It will be too much for her.”

“Oh, I didn’t look that closely at the invitation.”

I thought that was going to be the end and then there was the note that arrived with the check for his portion of the telephone bill.

“What did you say?” Himself asked.

I sighed deeply and dramatically. “She’s trying to wear me down, and I don’t want to go.”

“Go where?”

“To that stupid wedding. Dad just sent me a note. ‘Your mother wants to go to the wedding.’ I’m not going.”

“You don’t have to. You have your calligraphy class.”

“That’s not going to stop her from hounding me. Where’s the aspirin?”

“Then throw me under the bus. Tell her I work on Saturdays at the karate studio.”

“That won’t stop her. She wants a ride.”

“Maybe your dad’s friend will drive them.”
“She wouldn’t know anyone at the wedding.”

“Exactly, she’d be a gift.”