Friday, November 30, 2007

One Car Funeral - Parte Deux

After we dropped the Weebles off after the dress rehearsal for the funeral, Himself looked at me and said, "What did we learn from this?"

"Never to trust directions from Mapquest?"


"Never to trust appointments made by the Weebles. If I don't personally make the appointment, I am to call and check the appointment with a person of authority, not a Weeble."

The morning of the funeral was a bit more hectic than the morning of the dress rehearsal. I wrote out a few more Christmas cards for my client, and then went to pull the Young One out of school. I couldn't ask Red to go pick the Young One up, so the girl had the afternoon off from school. She didn't seem too upset.

While the Young One had lunch, I made a phone call.

"Good morning, Sacred Heart Church, may I help you?"

"Yes, I would like to check the date and time for a funeral Mass for the Uncle?"

"Father Salducci will say the Mass today at 3 o'clock."

"Thank you."

The dress rehearsal certainly helped as Himself negotiated the streets without getting lost. The old woman must have been watching out for us because there was a parking space right in front of the church.

One eerie thing happened. We were introducing ourselves to Fr. Salducci so he would understand the theory of relativity. Ma introduced me as her sister, Doti, gone six years. I corrected the introduction.

The roof didn't fall in when I entered the church. Fr. Salducci said a beautiful service and was very attentive to Ma. She liked being treated like La Segnora, the lady.

After the funeral, we went back to Uncle Salvatore's for coffee and the old woman made sure we got a space right in front of the house. As we were removing coats, Ma told me when she looked at me when we were being introduced to the priest, she said she saw her sister instead of me. It didn't surprise me as Ma and her sister were very close. Ma seemed happy and comforted that her sister dropped by.
I performed a tech support service for Uncle Salvatore. The display on his phone was in Spanish. By pressing the menu button, I was able to select English for the display. Uncle was thrilled he could now read and understand the display on his phone. Maybe I've discovered a new career for myself. Weeble Tech Support. Could I handle the stress? Where's my Mahta-Cro?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

One Car Funeral

Ma’s youngest brother and last of her siblings passed away. I knew as soon as the arrangements were made it would be up to me to see that Ma got to the funeral. The funeral would be in East Boston, and that posed a problem for me.

See, I’m petrified to drive in the city. Put me on a highway, let me go fast and straight and I’m happy as a clam. Get me in the city where I don’t know my way around, where all the streets are one way and I lose my cool. I also don’t do well making left turns without a light and I panic if I have to parallel park. That’s the only kind of parking in East Boston so right away I was having conniptions. I did the only thing I could think of. I begged Himself to take a personal day from school so he could drive. I owe him big time.

She called to give me the details of the funeral.

“The funeral is at Wednesday at three o’clock at the Sacred Heart Church. We don’t have to go to the Rapino’s (funeral parlor) and there won’t be a graveside service, but I don’t know how we are going to get to the church!”

I heard the unmistakable sound of Velcro loops locking together as she raised her wrist to her forehead. Part of me wanted to sing the song by Vanity Fair. “A thumb goes up, a car goes by Oh, won't somebody stop and help a guy? Hitchin' a ride, hitchin' a ride” Instead, I stifled the ‘Help me, Lord’ sigh and said, “Don’t worry, Ma, Himself and I will see that you get there.”

I called my friend, Red, to see if she could pick the Young One up at school. I owe Red big time.

I knew where the church was. It was down the street from Grandma’s house and around the block from Auntie’s. I had walked to confession and Mass a million times as a kid, but I had no clue how to drive there. Himself and I consulted Mapquest. Sacred Heart Church. 336 Saratoga Street.

Armed with our directions, the Weebles firmly buckled in the car, we headed to East Boston, near Logan Airport. It was pretty much a straight shot down the Pike from the Weebles. We drove through the new, pristine Ted Williams Tunnel and marveled how quickly the ride to the airport now was. The Weebles haven’t driven into Boston since the beginning of the Big Dig and they were amazed at the changes.

Ma mentioned her brother-in-law, Salvatore, had invited us back to his house for coffee after the Mass. I called Uncle from the car to tell him we were on the Pike. He said he would meet us at the church and reminded me we were to go back to his house for coffee.
We were zipping along splendidly, found the exit at the end of the Pike, made the left turn onto Bennington and then onto Neptune Road. According to Mapquest, a left at Neptune would put us onto Saratoga. Neptune Road ended and suddenly we were in the middle of the Circus Maximus.

All the streets were marked one way and none of them seemed to be in the direction we wanted to go in. Even though the Weebles grew up in the area, they weren’t helpful with directions.

“The church is around the corner from Guy’s.” Guy owned a small grocery store and surprise, the store is no longer there.

Himself patiently drove up and down streets, weaving through the maze of one way streets like a mouse searching for cheese. He turned down Morris St.

“This is the street Grandma used to live on!” I said. “Look, there’s the Sister’s school (Sacred Heart School). The church is down the next block.”

Sure enough, we found the church at the end of the street and could legally make a left turn onto Brooks Street. Himself pulled up to the curb where there was a handicap ramp. We offloaded the Weebles and Himself and I negotiated the maze of one way streets looking for a place to park. We ended up back on Morris St. and there was a parking space right in front of Grandma’s door. I liked to think the old lady was looking out for us. Himself parked the car and we walked to the church.

As I started to go up the steps of the church, I saw an old lady at the corner. The old lady was wearing a black coat with a fur collar. The old lady was pushing a walker.

What the hell? “Ma! Ma!” I yelled and ran up alongside of her. “What are you doing?”

“The church is locked. Your father went to find a way in.”

I saw Dad by some brick steps.

“The church is locked.”

I climbed the stairs and looked through the glass window of the door. I saw a doorbell and rang it. The door was opened by an older woman and I suddenly realized I was at the rectory.

“May I help you?”

“Yes, we’re here for the funeral for my uncle, but the church is locked.”

She looked at me as if I my horns were showing, and I worried that the lintel was going to collapse because I was standing on the hallowed threshold.

“The funeral isn’t today,” she said.

I looked at her as if she was speaking a foreign language.

My mouth opened and closed and I realized I must have looked like a codfish.

“Won’t you come in?” and she opened the door wide.

I stepped into the foyer and she lead me into the church office. She pulled out the church record. “The funeral is tomorrow at 3pm.”

“But the funeral for the Uncle is today!” I pleaded. The small voice in my head reminded me there was no hearse out front and a submarine klaxon began to blare.

She stepped across the hall and stuck her head into another office and asked about the date and time for the funeral. "Father..." I could hear her voice drop in volume to a respectful whisper.

“Father Salducci has the Uncle’s funeral at three o’clock tomorrow afternoon,” said the priest.

I wanted to scream. But we came today! We came from Worcester [Land of Here There Be Dragons]. We drove the Weebles. There damn well better be a #$$%&^%^ funeral today! If not the Uncle’s, somebody’s! Can’t the priest say the Mass today? We don’t really need the casket. It’s just a decoration anyway.
All hands! Rig for crash! We're headed to the bottom!

The woman gently ushered me out to the steps. “Who told you the funeral was today?”

I pointed at Ma at the bottom of the stairs. J’accuse! I wanted to throttle someone. Ma was the first choice, followed by the church secretary, the Pastor, and Dad for good measure.

I spent a good ten minutes trying to get through to Ma the date and time were incorrect. Both Ma and Dad were befuddled. I tried calling Uncle Salvatore’s house, but there was no answer. He must have been on his way to the church. I told Ma and Dad to stay in front of the rectory and Himself and I would bring the car around. We headed for Morris St.

As we rounded the corner in front of the church, there was Uncle Salvatore walking up and down the sidewalk.

“Uncle! Uncle!”

He smiled, shouted my name, and opened his arms to me in a big hug.

“Ma got the date wrong. The funeral is tomorrow.”

“Where’s your mother?”

“She and Dad are waiting out in front of the rectory.”

Uncle introduced Himself and I to his lady friend, Bee. We shook hands and she invited us back to the house.

Himself said he would bring the car around and I was to bring Uncle Salvatore and his friend to Ma and Dad.

It was quite cold and the wind had picked up. Ma was shivering and whining she was cold. Not much I could do because the church was locked! We stood like penguins and the old folks caught up with each other. The last time we had been together was three years ago at Uncle Salvatore’s surprise 80th birthday. So we waited and waited for Himself to bring the car around.

Uncle Salvatore and Bee had walked to the church, and Bee decided she would walk back to put the coffee on.

I caught a glimpse of Himself coming around Neptune, but he missed the turn and disappeared. I ran to the front of the church hoping to flag him down as he came down Morris St. No such luck.

Uncle decided to go get his car so he could take Ma and Dad back to the house to get warmed up. I would wait for Himself. Uncle Salvatore gave me the directions to get back to his house.

Uncle brought his car around to the rectory and helped Ma and Dad to get in. I turned to walk to the front of the church and there was Himself parked in front of the church by the handicap ramp where we started nearly an hour before.

"Only my family can screw up a one car funeral! Can you believe the church is locked?"

"Sad, but the churches don't stay open like they used to."

"That sux! You can't claim sanctuary anymore!"

We negotiated the streets with Uncle Salvatore’s directions and pulled up in front of his house. There was an empty spot right in front of his door and Himself started the maneuver to parallel park the car.

“Wait! Don’t park here. This is probably Uncle Salvatore’s space. Go further down. If we don’t find a space we can take a right and park on Bremen St., behind Uncle’s house.”

Maybe the old lady was still watching out for us because there was a space about 3 or 4 houses down from Uncle Salvatore’s.

At Uncle Salvatore’s, Bee was bustling around the kitchen, setting the table with cups, plates and food. Italians always celebrate moments of great joy, sorrow or the mundane with copious amounts of food. She poured coffee and tea, and brought out cheese and crackers, Scali bread, eggplant Parmagiana, a frittata, and calzone.

It felt strange sitting around the dining room table and Auntie Dotie not there. Auntie passed away 6 years ago and her daughter, Dee (2 yrs older than me), passed away 8 months later. Bee was very gracious and I’m pleased Uncle Salvatore has a companion.
We spent the afternoon reminiscing and catching up on the doings of Uncle’s son, grandchildren, and great grandchild.

Bee thought I looked a lot like Cousin Dee’s friend Margaret.

“Oh, no,” Ma piped up. “Margaret is thin.”

“Want some ice for that burn?” Himself whispered.

The conversation turned to the improvements Uncle Salvatore made in the house.

“You know, Sal,” began Ma. “I need a good plumber, not you.”

I passed the ice pack to Uncle Salvatore.

Ma went on about the remodeling she wants to do in the bathroom when her millions come in.

Since Bee was a new audience Ma began telling her how I only go out to them once a month, if that, and I never visit. (Surprisingly, she didn’t sing the ‘He’s Stupid’ song. She must have realized she would be slam dunked with the ‘Who Effed Up the Date of the Funeral’ song.)

“Whoa, back up the Elder bus,” I said. “I take you to the foot doctor, the heart specialist, and the primary care doctor. When you broke your wrist, I took you to the emergency room. I took you to three follow up appointments with the orthopedist.”

“Well, you don’t come to visit,” she sniffed.

“I came to visit you one Sunday. You said ‘I fell, look at my wrist.’ I took you to the emergency room. I visited with you for four and a half hours in the emergency room. It wasn’t my fault, you fell and we had to spend our time in the emergency room.”

“Well, you don’t stay for lunch.”

“I planned on staying for lunch. It wasn’t my fault that your primary care doctor kept you waiting for your appointment for an hour and a half and I couldn’t stay for lunch because I had to get back to pick the Young One up from school. If I’m such an awful kid, see if my twin sister will do better by you!”

Ma furrowed her brow. “But you don’t have a twin.”

“Bingo! Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

Sensing the conversation might deteriorate to blows, Himself mentioned how it was getting late and we had best get on the road.
Uncle invited us back to the house tomorrow after the funeral.

Uncle Salvatore gave us directions back to the Pike. We missed the turn and passed the gas tanks.

Ma started singing the “You’re going the wrong way song.”

“We know!” we shouted.

“Why don’t you go through Chelsea?”

As kids, when we were annoying, one of the adults would say “Here’s a quarter. Go play in the tunnel.” The tunnel fare has gone up and I was tempted to give Ma three dollars.

A right turn brought us out to 1A. Himself missed the turn to the Pike, so we ended up going around Logan Airport on the exit road. Fortunately, Ma had nodded off and we eventually made it to the Pike and the tunnel and Boston rush hour traffic. All we would see for miles was red tail lights strung out like Christmas lights.

Back at the Weebles, Ma sank wearily into her chair. “Oh, I don’t know what we are going to do tomorrow. If you can’t make it, don’t worry about us.”

I should have said, “Great! See ya.” Instead, I told her not to worry. We would see that she got to her brother’s funeral.

After all, we were in an effin movie. Tomorrow, it would be Groundhog’s Day all over again.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Perfect Gift

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Your Weeble is Showing

After the performance of the Shaolin Warrior Monks, we walked back to Park St. Station to catch the outbound subway.

As we descended the stairs, I breathed in the stale air. I’d been riding the Green Line since I was 7 years old and was taken with a wave of nostalgia. The stations have been cleaned up considerably. When I was younger the stale air had an underlying tang of beer, beer waste and by product and unwashed derelict. I sighed. Even without the pungency, entering the station felt like a homecoming.

We walked through the station took the stairs down to Park St. Under to the Red Line and then climbed another flight of stairs up to the Outbound side of the track.

The platform was crowded and I was surprised how many people, especially young people, were milling about waiting for the Outbound “D” train to Riverside.

My Young One was taken with the novelty of riding the subway and she looked up and down the track searching for the train. I reached a hand and pulled her behind the yellow caution line. As a youngster, I remembered stepping over the line with The Brother as he laid pennies on the track. We would watch with glee as the old green trolley cars would flatten the pennies into thin sheets of copper. With so many pennies laid end to end and stacked five high, it’s a wonder we didn’t derail any trains.

A blast of stale air, bright light from the tunnel, and a roar announced the arrival of the train. Even though the hour was late, the train was crowded. The doors whooshed open and we surged with the crowd like salmon swimming upstream. We moved to the back of the first car where it joins the second car. There were no seats available so I grabbed the hand hold on one of the seats. I poked the Young One to hold on. Himself was standing at the back of the first car and a glance behind him revealed all the seats in the second were filled too.

Sitting in a single seat facing me was a young man. He looked to be in his late teens or early twenties. “Excuse me,” he said. “Would you like to sit down?” he asked me.

I knew seats would be available after a few more stops so I declined. Then I caught sight of Himself hanging onto a hand hold and desperately trying not to laugh as the train lurched forward.

Now, I was perfectly happy thinking the young man was being polite and chivalrous. He couldn’t possibly have offered me his seat because he thought I was a old.

Himself pressed his lips in a tight line in an effort to stop them from curling into a smile. He quickly looked away from me and became engrossed in one of the advertisements across the aisle. His shoulders were shaking with suppressed mirth.
After several stops, the young man disembarked and other seats became available. The Young One and I sat in a double seat and Himself sat behind us. We swayed and lurched through the dark to the end of the line.

As we walked to the car, Himself started to laugh.

“He was just being polite!” I said sharply.

“He probably thought you were as old as his grandmother!”

“Shut up."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Herself's Fanabala*

Ma had been telling me about the latest shopping trip. A friend of Dad’s had taken them in the middle of a nor’easter to Revere. I implored the heavens as I imagined the car careening around Revere Beach Boulevard with the waves crashing over the sea wall. I thought the expedition was a pretty dumbass idea, but as I long as I didn’t have to make the trip no skin off my nose. Ma wasn’t happy about going all the way to Revere. It was a long trip for her.

In the next breath, she excitedly told me that Roche Bros. opened up a “beautiful new store” in Westboro and after coming home from Revere they went there. Now, I’m not really sure if this trip was done all in one day. As I mentioned, this might have been one of the game show conversations, To Tell the Truth or The Price is Right. The stores are 100 miles away from each other. Ma gushed about the store and the manager’s specials.

I was just getting my jacket on when she said, “Will you be able to come back this week?”

My radar kicked in. “Not this week, why?”

“Well, paper towels are on sale for $9.99 and the Carapelli olive oil is a good price for the gallon. I have some paper towels downstairs, but we’re running out of oil.”

“If you have paper towels, why do you need more?”

“I have to lay stores in for winter!”

“What are you ants?”

“Well, I can’t get to the stores and if the weather turns bad...” She let out an ominous sigh.

“Ma, if the weather turns bad and you’re really desperate for items, I can put an order in with Peapod and have it delivered.” I whispered it several more times in the hope it would become a subliminal message.

“Oh no! Those prices are too high! I can’t afford to shop like that.”

Well, if you stopped sending money to Nostradumbass and the phony lotteries, you’d have enough money to shop Peapod. I bit back the thought. “Well, you wouldn’t do your whole shopping there, just what you needed to get through the storm.”

Her little trolley wasn’t about to be sidetracked. “Can you pick up the paper towels and the oil?”

“But, you went to two stores. Why didn’t you buy those things there?”

“Because I could get them cheaper and save money.”

Yeah, you’d save money. Gas just hit $3.00 a gallon. This new store is a half an hour away from my house and then another half hour from Ma’s. I couldn’t see the savings.

“You don’t have to get them this week,” she said brightly. “The sale will run for two weeks.”

“I’ll see what I can do” and I ran out the door.

“Make sure you get the 15 roll Bounty, because those big rolls don’t fit on the holder,” she shouted after me as I burned rubber pulling out of the driveway.

When Himself came home, I whined about the problem.

“Price Chopper has the paper towels for the same price," he said calmly. Price Chopper is where Himself does our shopping.

“And the olive oil? It’s not the Phillipo Berrio that she usually buys. Some other brand that begins with a C.”

“I know the one.”

Himself went shopping, and picked up the items for Ma. The price tags were removed and on the way to school, Himself dropped the items off. Mission accomplished.

It was pouring buckets the day Himself dropped the items off. I called Ma to let her know the paper towels and olive oil were on the front stoop. She was less than happy.

“What’s the matter? I asked.

“You didn’t get these from Market Basket,” she fumed.

Busted by the Price Chopper bags. “Market Basket? I thought you told me they were on sale at the new Roche Bros.”

“No, I told you Market Basket.”

The game shows again. The items could have been on sale on the moon and I still wouldn’t have had Himself go to Market Basket to get two, lousy items. Look at the map of the Toonerville Trolley essay and you’ll understand.

“You didn’t get these!” she scolded.

“No, Himself went.”

“But I didn’t want them from Price Chopper.”
Now, I attended parochial school and I’ve lied to professionals, the nuns. I have no problem whatsoever lying to Ma. “What the hell difference does it matter what store they came from? They were the same price as what you saw in the flyer,” I said smoothly. I had no clue if they were the same price or not, and didn’t give a horse’s patoot if they were more. It would still be cheaper than driving around the countryside for two items.

“But I didn’t want him to go shopping.”

“Well, shopping ain’t my monkey so he picked them up for the same price at Price Chopper when he went to do our shopping.

“You shouldn’t have made him go.”

“I can't make him do anything he doesn’t want to,” I laughed.

“But I didn’t want HIM to go! Well, I can see I can’t ask you to do anything for me anymore.” I could see her raise her wrist to her forehead and strike a martyred pose.

Ah, the crux of the problem. Remember OPD is all about control.

“Fa nabala. Well, if you don’t want the paper towels or the olive oil. Throw them away. Or send Dad to the Senior Center with them. I’m sure one of the ladies would be more than happy to have those items.” My comment was reminiscent of the starving children in China speech.

“No, I’ll use them.”

I thought so.

*The title comes from an Italian expression (in the dialect my parents speak). It’s a term used in exasperation such as dropping a pencil on the floor (well, I say $%#@%), and means “darn” or “for heaven’s sakes”. It literary means “Go to Naples” and can also mean "Go to Hell". I was just tickled with the fact that it was a pun on “fable.” I just slay me.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Danse Macabre

Conversations with the Weebles can turn to morbid thoughts. Usually, this happens around the holidays . "Well, I wonder how many Christmases I have left." "This may be my last Thanksgiving." Deep sigh. Forlorn look. I'm never sure if the comments are to spark some sympathy or some sort of death wish.

Dad and I were having a cup of tea. Ma had nodded off and her tea sat untouched and getting cold. Dad shook his head and heaved a deep sigh.

"Sometimes, I don't know. Maybe it would be better to just." He raised his index finger and pointed it at his temple.

"Don't you dare!" I yelled horrified. "You're not going to leave me to handle this by myself."

He gave me that "what are you going to do about it look."

"If you do. If you do.." I tried to think of the worse thing. "I'll wear red to your funeral and dance on your grave."

He laughed. "That's alright. I won't mind."

I didn't think quickly enough on my feet. I thought of the perfect answer on the way home. What I should have said: If you do, I'll bury her in the same hole!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Another Appointment

Another doctor’s appointment. At least it beats going to Market Basket. I arrived at the Weebles a half hour before their appointment. I ring the bell, open the door and announce at the top of my lungs, “It’s me! I’m here!”

Ma screamed for Dad to answer the door.

I yelled “I’m here!”

Again, she screams for him to answer the door.

We were in a live version of “Who’s on First?”

Dad came downstairs and told me to present myself to Ma.

She was in her room getting dressed.

“Oh, you’re here.” It sounded as if she’s surprised. As if I would forget the appointment. Maybe she was hoping I’d forget the appointment just so she wouldn’t have to go.

I go back to the living room to sit and wait.

Dad is grousing because Ma isn’t ready and we’ll be late.

I pointed out the doctor always keeps them waiting so if we’re late, it’s really no big deal. If need be, we make another appointment.

“That’s not fair to you,” he grumbled.

I shrug, and begin collecting the necessaries. I moved the walker into position. Grabbed Ma’s coat and pockabook from the closet.

Ma finally toddled out. She yelled at Dad. “You know I need help putting my shoes and socks on.”

“You should have asked.”

“Thank you very much! You know I need help putting my shoes and socks on.”

“You should have asked.

The conversation spiraled to a Burn and Schreiber routine.

“You know?”


“You know?”


“You know?”


I tried not to laugh. I helped Ma into her coat and got to the two of them headed to the door. Got them in the car. Chug chug toot toot off we go. A half hour late for the appointment.

The parking lot is packed, and I sailed into the last handicap spot. The waiting room was filled with weebles. Dad checked them in and Ma pushed her walker to the back where the technician would draw her blood. Dad came back and had his turn.

I settled in to wait and Ma sat next to me.

The technician leaned out of her cubby.

“How are things today,” she asked.

“The same. How’s your mother?”

“She’s doing great. I just got off the phone with her.” She shrugged and gave the ‘Help me, Lord’ look.

“She sending you for more lotion?”

She laughed. “No not this time.”

Ma usually nodded off in her chair while waiting for the doctors, but she was very alert and was watching the two of us.

“So, Ma, you have your daughter with you,” smiled the tech. “She’s sitting there with valium in her back pocket.”

“No, I took it before I left the house.” We laughed and she ducked back into her cubby.

“Where do you know her mother from?”

“I don’t know her mother. Just from what she’s told me when we come here” Almost busted.

Ma was in a good mood. “Your father is so stupid. He called a plumber.”

Sometimes it’s hard for me to follow Ma’s conversation. She has forgotten that I haven’t lived under her roof in over 20 years. So she leaves out bits and pieces because she’s convinced I know the whole story. Sometimes, talking to Ma is like playing game shows. I never know whether it’s ‘To Tell the Truth, ‘What’s My Line’ or ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’. I tried to put bits and pieces of her conversation together about Dad, a leak in the basement, and the cost of the repair. Ma’s pricing system skidded to a halt during the depression.

Her eyes are round as saucers when I tell her a plumber and his helper get $100 an hour.

She told me she wanted to remodel the bathroom, but only if the contractor will do things her way. She wanted to have the tub removed and a shower installed, but she doesn’t want to replace the tile. Sounded like she asked the plumber about her idea and wasn’t happy with him. Course the remodel would have to wait until her money came in.

“All that work, and I’ll probably not live long enough to see it.”

Sad when their thoughts turned this way. “Ma, you’ll outlive all of us.”

She huddled in her chair with her own thoughts.

I turned my attention to Dad. He was having a conversation with an elderly gentleman. They were talking about the Red Sox winning the World Series. Then the conversation turned to the good old days of baseball.

“They don’t have pitchers like they used to.”

“No, they sure don’t.”

“I remember a pair of brothers. I think they pitched for St. Louis.”

“What were their names?”

“The Dean brothers,” I supplied.

“You know, the brothers,” Dad said to me.

“Yeah, Dizzy and Daffy Dean.”

“Well, I don’t remember their names, but one brother would pitch one game on Sunday. The whole game, and his brother would pitch the second of the double header.”

“Oh, yeah, I remember. What was their name?”

“Dean. Dizzy and Daffy Dean.”

“Yes, Dean!” The other gentleman smiled at me.

I smiled back. Third base!

Dad told the other gentleman how he used to go down to watch the Boston Braves play when he was a kid. He used to watch the game through a break in the fence.

“Course it’s not Braves Field anymore.”

“That’s right! What’s there now?”

“It’s part of BU. Nickerson Field,” I supplied.

“BU owns it now.”

“Nickerson Field.”

“Yes, Nickerson Field!” The other gentleman smiled at me.

I smiled back. Third base!

Finally after waiting an hour, one of the office workers calls out Dad’s first name. Dad and a gentleman further up the waiting room both got up and went to the young woman. That should teach her to use full names. The appointment wasn’t for Dad. He returned to his chair.

After an hour and a half, the Weebles were called into the examination room. A short time later they emerged. I got Ma’s coat and helped her into it while Dad waited at the reception desk to make the next appointment. The receptionist didn’t set aside her work to make Dad’s appointment. I gave the girl the evil eye.

On the counter was a pencil holder containing pens left by the drug reps. Ma and Dad each grabbed a pen. They took a pen each and every time we visit. It must be the grown up version of lollipops or the Treasure Chest at the dentist.

“Take a pen!” Ma urged me.

“No, I’ll try to keep medical expenses down.” It must cost a small fortune for the drug rep to replace the pens each month. If the drug companies didn’t have to spend so much money on advertising, drug costs wouldn’t be so high.

“Oh!” Ma exclaimed.

“What’s the matter?” I asked

“We forgot to ask the doctor about the shoes.”

The receptionist looked up. “What shoes?”

“The shoes,” Ma explained.

I’m able to translate. “She needs a form signed by the doctor so the podiatrist can send it to the insurance company so she can get orthopedic shoes.”

“Oh, just have the podiatrist send us the form.”

“Nay, nay, nay! We went through this last year,” I said. “The podiatrist’s office sent the form. Twice. The doctor never signed it and sent it back. I made 3 trips all the way from Worcester. I’m not doing that again.” Now I sounded like the martyr weeble.

“Tell them to mark it to the attention of Kath. I’ll see that it’s taken care of.”

She made the appointment for the next visit and I entered it into my PDA. Dad also needed an appointment for an echocardiogram. The test is only done on Saturday. She had an early morning appointment.

“Oh, you don’t have to take me,” Dad said. “I can walk.”

“You sure?” I had a feeling Caesar was refusing the crown three times.

“I can manage.”


“Oh!” Ma exclaimed again.

“What’s the matter?” I asked. I can’t believe they were in with the doctor for a half an hour and now she has questions for the doctor.

“We forgot to ask about the walker.”

The receptionist looked up. “The Walker?”

“She needs a form signed by the doctor for a walker so she can submit it to the insurance company for payment.”

The receptionist looked over the divider and looked at Ma standing there with her walker. Her walker has wheels on the front and whiffle balls to provide traction.

“She wants a walker that has handbrakes and a seat so she can sit when she gets tired.”

“What brand?”

What brand? How the hell should I know what brand! Get her a Raleigh. Make it pink. Raleigh has handbrakes. The Schwin she’s pushing now doesn’t and she has a hard time back pedaling to stop it. I try not to give the receptionist the ‘Help me, Lord’ look.

The doctor came out of the examination room and was giving instructions to another patient.

“I’ll have to ask the doctor about this.”

“You do that. In the mean time can you make a note to ask the doctor so we don’t have to stand here for another half an hour. You can give Dad the information when he comes for the EKG.”

With that settled, two and a half hours later, I herd the Weebles home. They are disappointed I can’t stay for lunch as I have to head back home to be in time to pick The Young One up from school.

“I’m afraid the doctor used up all my visiting time,” I said with I hope the right amount of sadness. It’s not that I don’t like visiting the Weebles. Sometimes it can be quite entertaining. I don’t like visiting at meal times. Dad’s culinary skills are not that polished and I didn’t have any Pepto Bismal with me.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Dia De Los Muertos

Getting the weebles to talk about final wishes is necessary, but difficult. When bringing up the subject, the perception is so how much of that $2 million that Nostradumbass is sending you do I get?

Not long ago, I was surprised when Dad began talking about his final wishes. He told me about an insurance policy through the Veterans Administration. I already knew this as several years ago, Ma showed me where she kept the important papers. She's quite fond of rearranging furniture and things so all bets are off that the important papers are still in the location where she showed me.

Anyway, Dad was telling me about the insurance policy. There would be enough money from the policy to bury him and Ma. He said he would like to be buried at the national cemetery down the Cape. I nodded though hoped if he passed the funeral wouldn't be on a weekend during the summer. Traffic would take days to move around the Bourne rotary. Guess we'll just have to burn that bridge when we come to it.

He also said he wanted a military funeral. As a WWII veteran, he said he was entitled. I'm assuming he meant a flag draped casket, honor guard, and bugler from the local VFW. I have to make a note how to get in touch with the Joint Chiefs as dignitaries, just in case.

"Now you don't have to worry about the burial plot. That will be provided. At no cost"

"Ok," I said as if I were taking notes.

"One other thing."

I thought he was going to give me a list of hymns he would like played at the funeral. Some years ago, he gave me his 27 page obituary to be put in the newspaper. I half expected to hear him say he wanted the Ave Maria sung at the Mass and wasn't it too bad Nelson Eddy was gone and couldn't sing it. Nelson Eddy had been a friend of a cousin and had sung at the cousin's wedding.

"I don't want HER buried in the same hole!"

I choked with laughter. "Okay, but what should we do with her."

"I don't care." It had been a difficult day for him with Ma sniping and singing the 'He's Stupid Song' to all within earshot. He paused in thought. "Burn the witch!"