Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Comedy Duo

When I went to pick up the Weebles to take Ma to her shoe fitting, Dad greeted me at the door.

He was dressed to the nines. His nines are more 70’s styling. A white shirt with wide collar points, French cuffs held in place with black onyx cuff links, a surfboard wide black floral tie, and black trousers. Still for an old dude, he looked pretty good.

“You’re looking pretty sharp. Whose funeral are you going to?”

“Your mother’s. I hope.”

As the straight man, I should have seen that one coming.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Rolling Stones

Dad’s Senior Center glee club was having its annual Spring Program. Problem number one. Dad is McNamara, leader of the band. Problem number two. Dad didn’t invite Ma to the program. Problem number three. Dad went out and left Ma all alone for hours and hours with no lunch or dinner. Problems Three, Four, Five, ad infinitum.

Now music is the one thing that keeps Dad sane. He lives to sing and sings to live. Every free minute he gets, he will bring up singing and music. Dad looks forward to Fridays, the day the group rehearses. He loves the applause when the group goes to other Senior Centers, nursing homes, and hospitals for performances. Above all else, Dad loves the chance to get out of the house.

Ma hates the fact that Dad is more mobile than she is. His leaving her alone is his way of thumbing his nose at her. Can’t say that I blame him. Out in public, Ma sings her own aria, The Stupid Song.

Off Dad went as fast as his legs and ride could carry him. Free as a bird and a song in his heart.

I called Sunday evening at 7pm. to remind them about the shoe appointment. Ma was in a tizzy.

“HE left me alone for hours and hours. I haven’t had lunch and no supper.”

Oh, boy. A pity party.

“So he hasn’t come home?”

“I was asleep all afternoon. He might have come home, but I locked the screen door. Someone rang the bell, but I didn’t answer it.”

“If you locked the screen door, how did you expect him to get in?”

“He should have called me when he rang the bell.”

Ah, begging to be let in. Like Fred Flinstone yelling “Wilma!” and pounding on the door to the cave. Control to the feral degree.

What do Ma and The Rolling Stones have in common? Anyone? Anyone? Under My Thumb and Can’t Get No Satisfaction.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Appointments. Schedules. Our lives revolve around the day planner. At least mine does. All calendar events color coded in Microsoft Outlook. Blue for me. Red for The Young One. Purple for Himself, Pink for The Eldest and Olive Green for the Weebles. My schedule at a glance. Printed sheets neatly color coded hang on the fridge. This month and next month. The Outlook calendar is synched with my Palm Z22, my electronic brain.

Before the last Holy Day of Obligation, I had given Dad my schedule for the next two weeks so he could make the appointment when the foot doctor called to say Ma’s shoes were in.

I went over the schedule with him several times. Wednesday, Thursday one week. Or Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday the week after. It was like a Burns and Schreiber routine.

Apointment. Wednesday, Thursday. Yeah, Wednesday. Yeah. Thursday. Yeah, appointment.

Get it? Got it. Good.

The phone rang. It was Dad.

“The foot doctor called. Ma’s shoes are in.”

“Great. What day did you make the appointment for?”

“I didn’t. Told the secretary I had to check with you first.”

I slapped my forehead. I could have had a V-8

“Ok. Ma had to miss the appointment with the heart doctor because my car was in the shop. Did you make an appointment for her when you went for your appointment?”

“Yes, but I don’t remember what I did with the card.”

Deep sigh. I want to let the Weebles have some say within my parameters of planning their own appointments, but realized sadly this is a task they aren’t capable of doing anymore. So Monday morning after the last Holy Day of Obligation, I called the foot doctor to make an appointment to take Ma for her shoe fitting. I also called the heart doctor to find out when Ma’s next appointment is. Both appointments logged into Outlook and then synched to my electronic brain.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Weeble Is In The Eyes of the Beholder

The other day, The Eldest and I were chatting about her freshman year at college and some of the classes she had to take.

She was required to take an art appreciation class which she did not like though she did well in it.

"What didn't you like about the class?"

"It was so boring. The instructor just read to us from the textbook. Blah, blah, blah, classical Greek. Blah, blah, blah, blah, Gothic arches."

"Was she a young teacher?"

"No, she's about your age."

Weeble is in the eyes of the beholder. I think I'll go get some ice for that burn.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New Balance

Today, we're off to the podiatrist. Ma's shoes have finally come in. Once a year, her health insurance plan allows her to get a new pair of orthopedic shoes. Once a year, I have to try to explain that New Balance is the name of the shoe company and not a super power the shoes will give her.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Herding Cats

Another month. Another Mahket Day. How I hate the place and hate the chore. A hateful task made longer by having to bless every piece of meat in the long, white refrigerated case that extends forever like a nightmare. The endless debates about which are really better Polish Dill Pickle Spears or Kosher Dill Pickle Spears. And the worry. I worry for all the Little Debbies and items on the end caps of the aisles. Will they survive the two wheeled corners or the 19 point turns? And the fear. Will the small children walking along side their mothers be able to move out of the way in time as the red scooter burns linoleum down the aisles? And the grief. I can’t pass by the Big Boy tomatoes nestled together in their bin without mourning the one that landed with a sickening splat on the floor.

Like an automaton, I trail respectfully and safely behind the red scooter. I thought after nearly two years, I would have the Weebles shopping expedition into a routine. Dad takes the heavy items like soda, milk, orange juice and dairy, then he does the aisles. Ma sains all the meat, covers produce and frozen foods.

So what is Ma doing in dairy, struggling to put two gallons of milk and a gallon of orange juice in the small basket in front of her scooter? And where the hell is Dad? How long does it take to put a dozen cans and bottles into the recycle machines?

I leave Ma at the Deli and run back to look for Dad. Find him and hustle him down to Deli to offload the milk and juice. He wants to know why he has to put those items in his cart? Why? Why? Because I said so, that’s why!

Ma gets her deli items and heads to meat. At least we’re going in the right direction. I push Dad along to the aisles.

It occurs to me as I run back and forth between the Weebles. I’m herding cats. I get one going in the right direction and run back to find the other. I pound up and down the store, chousing the aisles, beating pickles, cleaning products and bread looking for Dad and then repeat the process in produce among the celery, apples, and the poor tomatoes searching for Ma.

Cats. They are like cats. And like cats, they have their own language too. Ma calls to me.

“Oh! I forgot the…”

“You forgot the what?”

“You know. The frozen white things.”

Frozen white things. Frozen white things. Onions? No, she buys those fresh, not frozen. White things. White things. Frozen white things.

“Do you mean cauliflower?”


Push her to frozen foods and then go chaussing for him.

Finally, we are done. Get them in the chute for the checkout line.

I need to get me a lariat and a cool hat.

As the cowboy says: It ain’t easy, but when you bring a herd into town and ya ain’t lost a one of ‘em, ain’t a feeling like it in the world.

Git along little weeble. He-ya!, He-ya! Almost two years runnin’ and I ain’t lost a one of ‘em yet.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Polar Bears

Preface: Himself and I have been discussing what we will do when we become weebles. We've decided to follow the practice of the Inuits. When the elders feel they are becoming a burden to their family, they wander off into the frozen wilderness. Yeah, I know I whine a lot about the cold, the snow, and the ice, but I've never seen the Aurora Borealis. That's the carrot, and it offsets my dislike for the cold, the snow, and the ice. In this idyll, Himself and I, hand in hand, settle on an ice floe. We look up with wonder at the ribbons of color as the Aurora dances and blazes in the night sky until WHUMP! Polar bear food.

Himself and the Young One were heading out the door to karate classes. Himself would be teaching and The Young One would take a class and then assist in the tot's class.

"Put a jacket on," I said to The Young One.

"Mom," she replied as if I was feeble-minded. Her eyeballs were rolling in their sockets in that charming way of teens.

"It's 50 degrees outside." [I know to those of you in Minnesota this sounds ludicrous. Why you're thinking 50 degrees is balmy. We wear shorts and tee shirts. Maybe that's the case in The Land of Here There Be Dragons, but here in semi-Civilization, today's 50 degrees is cold, rainy, and damp.]

I look to Himself and do an imitation of the Young One.

"And this is the generation that will be looking after us." Obviously they don't have the sense that God gave a head of lettuce if they don't know to put on a coat when it's cold outside.

Himself smiles a no worries smile.

"Polar bears. It's why some animals eat their elders."

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Peace and Quiet

Himself announced dinner was ready. He cooked Sunday dinner while I was playing on the computer. When I got upstairs, the table was set, and he was preparing plates. I helped get beverages and sundries and carried them out to the sunroom. We make a good team.

I sighed.

"What's the matter?" Himself asked.

"Oh, I was just thinking how peaceful our home is. No one sings 'The Stupid Song.'"

"Just wait until next week," he quipped.

"Next week?"

"Yeah, the Holy Day of Obligation. Mother's Day. The Weebles will be here."

Monday, May 05, 2008


Wednesday. Eye glass day. What a shock to be greeted at the door by Ma. The right side of her face was blue/black from forehead to below her eye.

“What happened?”

“I fell.”

My stomach began churning. The migraine aura didn’t flicker as I had taken some aspirin before I left home.

“Where did you hit your head?”

“On the floor. In the kitchen. My leg just went out from under me, and then I crawled to pick myself up.”

The guilty flutter of fairy wings buzzed in my ears. Ma must fall a couple of times a month at least that I’m made aware. There might be more incidents, but they aren’t telling me.

These are the times when you know you should speak up and talk about things like having home help care come in on a daily basis, or possibly permanent residency in a nursing home. I know this topic will go over with as much enthusiasm as a fart in church.

And what about Dad? He’s forgetful. Is it just normal forgetfulness or a precursor of something else? They don’t give me my email. They don’t give it to him because he can’t remember how to turn the computer on. What about walking to Mahket Basket? Is that part of a wandering cycle? Will he forget where he is, how he got there, and how to get home?

I push the topic to the back burner. Maybe it’s not a good time to broach the subject about nursing home care. Maybe another time would be better. Maybe they will both realize they need constant care. Yeah, and I’m a dancing bear.

We took the ride to Target. Patrick in Optical greeted us warmly, and was very concerned and sympathetic to Ma’s eye. He clucked his tongue at her misfortune and was very attentive to Ma. She blossomed a bit. He made sure her glasses were neither too tight nor too loose. Gave her a card to read. Explained the graduated bifocal lens took time getting used to and was different than her bifocals with the line. He showed her how to move her head instead of her eyes to read. Ma read the smallest print on the card. I had to squint.

As I was helping Ma up, Patrick mouthed I was a saint. I almost bent over so he could see the sunshine.

She worried how she was going to pay for the glasses. I told her they were already paid for. At first she insisted I hadn’t paid for them, but then she remembered. She promised she would have the money for the glasses and the furnace, but I had to wait until June. Like Wimpy, I’ll have a hamburger today, and will gladly pay you next Tuesday. No worries, Ma. Guess with the bad economy Auntie Rose is having a hard time sending the millions which used to come in two weeks. Now, we’d have to wait a month. No worries.

Back home, it took Ma a month of Sundays to get out of the car and to the front steps. Dad was making grrr faces and mumbling like Popeye. Hurry up, move!

“I’m sorry I’m so slow,” she whispered almost tearfully.

“Don’t worry about it. Take your time.”

“I don’t want you to get angry with me.”

“Have I said the eff word?”


“Then I’m not angry. When you hear me yell, and I say the eff word, then you’ll know I’m angry. Ok?”

She gave me a little smile.

The falls and the outing to Target had taken quite a bit out of her. Snails moved faster. I know what will happen. She will take another fall that will seriously injure her or be fatal. Maybe that would be a blessing. The decision to put her in a nursing home would be taken out of our [The Brother and my] hands. I push the thought away. Fiddledee-dee. I’ll think about that tomorrow.

We have tea. A chance to take a load off and pleasant chit chat. I told her about the Young One’s ring ceremony. She asked me to stay for lunch, but I declined. Threw Himself under the bus, and told Ma, I had some work I had to do for him. I don’t know if she noticed my nose growing.

As I was leaving, she pointed to her bruised eye.

“Your father did this to me,” she joked.

If Daddy did that to you, you’d have two black eyes, I thought to myself. My stomach churned. Because it could very well happen if she sings the You’re Stupid song one too many times. Tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Thumbs Up

The phone rang. It was Ma. Usually she’ll give me a jingle if Dad is out, and she’s lonely or if she wants something.

“My glasses are in.”

“Ok,” I said looking at my calendar. “I can take you on Wednesday.”

I could hear her frown because it was Sunday, and she wanted me to take her that day not a day or three later. I found myself making excuses. I think that’s a woman thing. We always have to explain ourselves. A man would make no excuses he’d just say “no”, “not today” or “oh, wow.”

“I have a dentist appointment tomorrow.”

Dead air. I’d needed to throw someone under the bus.

“The Young One has a school function on Tuesday….”


“The Young One is getting her class ring. There’s a Mass and a reception afterwards. I can take you to get your glasses on Wednesday.” I didn’t elaborate the ring ceremony Mass and reception were in the evening.

“Oh, that’s nice.”

She tried a different tack. “I fell?”

“You fell?”

“Yes, twice!”

The Guilt Fairy flapped her wings and hovered in my face.

“Are you alright?”

“Oh yes, I managed to drag myself across the floor and to pick myself up.”

Well, obviously if Ma could drag herself across the kitchen floor uphill both ways, she was fine. I backhanded the Guilt Fairy and sent her into a tailspin.

The conversation turned to Ma’s favorite subject Dad, how he doesn’t do anything for her, doesn’t take her anywhere. The same old soft shoe.

“Now you know that’s not true. As much as you think he’s an SOB, you’d be in a world of hurt without him. He does lots for you. He cooks your meals and washes the clothes.” He walks to the supermarket uphill both ways to get milk.

Ma grudgingly conceded the point.

A few hours later, caller ID flashed the Weebles phone number. This time Dad. Ah, the double team play.

“Your mother’s glasses came in.”

“Yes, I know. I told her I’d come on Wednesday.”


Obviously, she neglected to tell him that part.

“Did she tell you she fell?”



“Yup, I said swatting at the Guilt Fairy.”

“I walked to Mahket Basket?”

“You what?!”

“I walked to Mahket Basket?”

Not only was the fairy laughing in my face, but I could feel the migraine aura flicker.

“Do you realize you walked half a marathon!”

“I did? It didn’t seem that far. How far is it?”

I consulted Mapquest. “It’s close to 7 miles one way.”

“It didn’t seem that long.”

“You walked through Natick, Framingham, and Ashland! You walked the [Boston] Marathon route. A few more miles and you would have been at the starting line in Hopkinton! What the hell did you so desperately need that you had to walk to Mahket Basket?” I knew the answer was peace and quiet, a chance to get away from Ma.

“I picked up a few things.”

“If you couldn’t wait for me to take you, why didn’t you take the little bus? Every time we’re there I see the little bus making several trips. For a couple of bucks, you could have gotten a ride.”

“Oh, yeah, I didn’t think of that.”


“But I got a ride home.”

“Who gave you a ride home?”

“Some woman.”

The migraine aura pulsed. “Some woman? Some woman! You took a ride from a stranger?”

“She was very nice. She said she was a minister’s wife.”

And if she was Lizzie Borden would you still have thought she was very nice? I got the aspirin bottle and swallowed two white gems in quick succession.

“You know the Do Not Talk to Strangers or Take Rides from Stangers Rules apply to you too!” Now I’ll have to listen to the news wondering if I’ll hear a story about an elderly man found on the railroad tracks at Dennison Crossing with a knife in his ribs and Mahket Basket bags filled with 10 loaves of bread because they were a good price.

On the other hand, with the cost of gas rising, hitching would be an alternative and green form of transportation. Can you just hear Vanity Fair singing….

A thumb goes up, a car goes by…

C’mon, Ma! Show a little leg!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Saint Grumpy

Wednesday dawned bright and sunny with a promise of summer in the air. Could I enjoy the sunroom as I had planned? No, I had to take Ma to a two minute appointment to have her toe nails cut. Thirty some odd miles to the Weebles house and gas up to $3.43 per gallon. I was grumpy and took some Tylenol hoping I wouldn’t work myself up to a migraine.

With a sigh, I left the Young One to enjoy the day in the sunroom. I headed down the Pike and tried to console myself with the thought that I would be home by 1pm and could still enjoy some vacation time.

Ma was ready and on time so we headed to the medical building. A bright spot was finding a handicap spot right near the building. In the lobby, the headache aura twinged when I noticed Dad seemed to be confused as to which button to push to call the elevator. There’s only one. Because I see the Weebles so often and the focus is always on Ma, I sometimes don’t always notice Dad has his own issues. Before Ma could begin singing the stupid song, I pushed the button and the elevator doors opened.

We settled in the waiting room. Ma was under the impression she was getting new shoes. I tried to explain, she had already picked the shoes out, and they were on order, but Ma kept insisting she hadn’t been to the foot doctor to pick out her shoes. I dropped the subject because some days it doesn’t pay to chew through the straps.

While Ma was with the doctor, another elderly woman struck up a conversation with me about shoes. She had been looking at the shoe display and frowned at the lack of selection. I admired her clogs, which looked like the kind chefs wear. She asked about my fugly shoes, a pair of light blue rubber clogs.

Yes, very comfy. Yes, my feet sweat if it’s very hot, but that’s a fact of life if one chooses not to be a Flintstone and wear shoes.

With that errand done, the Weebles and I headed to Target so Ma could pick out new glasses.

They must have made frequent trips to Target because as we walked by the pharmacy, the pharmacist said Hello and called the Weebles by name. The clerk in the optical area, greeted them warmly by name. I settled Ma in a chair by a table while Dad went wandering around the store.

I find it both amusing and annoying that when I’m with the Weebles and helping them do business, the business people to talk to me as if I’m the interpreter or guardian ad litem. I handed her prescription to the clerk.

“What kind of frames does she want?”

Ma sat rigid as stone at the table.

“Ma? Ma! What kind of frames do you want?”

“I want glasses like hers. With no lines.” She meant progressive lenses.

The clerk brought frame after frame. Metal, trendy colors and smaller than Ma’s giant Sophia Loren window frames.

Ma didn’t like this one. Didn’t like that one. Didn’t like the teeny plastic nose guards. So Patrick, brought out three giant Sophia Loren window frames. Rectangular, oval and round in stunning pinkish plastic.

Ma kept asking me which style she should pick.

I was not about to go down that rabbit hole. If I picked the frame, she could blame me if there was a problem.

“Which one do you like?”

After trying on all three frames, Ma decided she like the rectangular ones best. By this time, Dad had made an appearance.

After explaining he would give her a deep senior citizen discount, Patrick wanted Ma to pay for her glasses in full. She had Dad retrieve her Target charge from the depths of her pockabook . Patrick went to the cash register and a few seconds later returned.

“The card has been denied,” he said quietly and apologetically.

Ma blinked like an owl.

Ma insisted she didn’t have an outstanding bill and had paid the last bill for medication in full.

“Is there a business office?” I asked.

“You’ll have to go to Customer Service,” said Patrick handing me Ma’s charge.

With Dad in tow, we left Ma with Patrick and ran to Customer Service. It was noisy in Customer Service and the young clerk tried to be helpful. She called the 800 number on the back of the card, but stuck when the automated system asked for the last 4 digits of the social security number.

“What’s Ma’s social security number?” I asked Dad.

“I don’t know.”

You don’t know? You don’t know? You’ve only done her taxes for a 102 years! I thanked the clerk for her help, made my version of Dad’s grrrr face and went back to Optical with Dad running in my wake.

Patrick kindly gave me the department telephone and I called the 800 number and stepped through menu hell. After what seemed like days, I finally contacted a real, live boy. He wouldn’t speak to me so I passed the phone to Ma and explained, billing wanted to talk to her. After a minute, Ma passed the phone back to me for translation.

“Her charge card has been upgraded to a Target Visa with a $10,000 dollar credit limit. We’ll be sending a card in the mail. Your mother should receive the card in 7 to 10 days.”

Are you effin insane? I almost shouted. This is all Auntie Rose needs to hear. The migraine aura pulsed.

This all occurred near the end of the month which meant the Weebles had pretty much gone through their social security checks. So I handed my charge card over to Patrick to pay for Ma’s glasses.

It’s a good thing Himself is very patient and understanding. I’m sure he’d be thrilled to learn we not only owned a furnace, but now we owned a pair of glasses neither one of us would be able to see out of. At least, the frames are rose tinted.

As we were leaving, Patrick came around and shook my hand.

“It was very nice meeting you. You are a saint.”

The thought made me laugh as I paraphrased a line from The Big Valley episode, Days of Grace. Yeah, and I trip over my halo twice a day.

Offloading the Weebles at home, was another eye opening experience. Ma had such a difficult time climbing the 6 steps to get into the house. She slowly moved her foot, paused on the step and teetered. I stood behind her just in case she toppled backwards. My stomach began to nervously churn and the migraine aura throbbed. We were gone less than two hours, but the outing had taken a lot out of her.

I stayed long enough to have a fast cup of tea and then the saint burned rubber out of the driveway like a bat out of hell and retreated to the serenity of the sun room.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Great Divide

Ma had an appointment at the eye doctor. Since the Young One was on April vacation, we decided to make a day of it. We’d have lunch and then take Ma to her mid-afternoon appointment. In the process, we’d score some Brownie points.

Dad had called me the Thurs before to tell me Ma’s appointment was at 3pm. My PDA had the appointment recorded at 2pm. One of the cardinal rules learned is never to trust appointments made by weebles. On Fri, I called the doctor’s office to check the appointment and was told “3p, no 2 pm.” I called the office again the morning of the appointment and was told 3pm. The Friday receptionist must be in periweeblepause.

The following day promised to be a taste of summer and the Young One and I discussed our plans as we traveled the Pike. We were going to spend the entire day together hanging out in the sunroom. We’d watch tv, read, play computer games, tease the kitty, have lunch. It would be a perfect day.

The Young One and I stopped at the nice, big, clean, supermarket two miles from the Weebles house. I let the Young One pick out what she wanted for lunch. Roast beef, provolone, bulkie rolls, macaroni salad, chips, pickles, banana bread, and a bottle of ginger ale.

Ma’s mouth was set in “the not happy face” as we brought the grocery bags in.

“What’s all this?”

“We brought lunch.”

“Well, it’s a good thing I didn’t make the crabmeat salad.”

“Yeah, good thing.”

I offered up a silent prayer.

Ma wanted to get to the medical building earlier because she wanted to stop in to see the foot doctor before her eye doctor appointment. The last time she had been to the foot doctor, he was supposed to order a pair of orthopedic shoes and call her when they came in. She never received a call and she was over due for the foot doctor to cut her toenails.

“Your father, the stupid head, tried to cut my toenails once, but he cut me. He can’t do anything right.”

She asked if I would be willing to try, but this didn’t sound like a Little Princess job so I politely declined and took her to the medical building early so she could check in with the foot doctor.

There must have been a sale at the medical building because there were no parking spots to be had. I offloaded the Weebles in front of the building. I didn’t bother to try trolling for a handicap spot, just headed over to the far visitor’s lot in Nebraska.

Ma was talking to the foot doctor’s receptionist when the Young One and I made it to the office. The receptionist said Ma’s shoes hadn’t come in. She blamed the shoe company, but I have a feeling she just never filed the paper work. We saw the foot doctor in January or February. Here it was April and it only takes two weeks for the shoes to come in. Ma asked if the doctor could squeeze her in to have her toe nails cut.

Nope. So with a sinking heart I pulled out my PDA.

“I have an opening at 10:15 tomorrow morning.”

I could have said ‘I have an appointment in the sunroom all day tomorrow’ but knew if I didn’t take the appointment, I’d have to make the trip the following week. With my not happy face peeking through, I used the stylus to make the appointment.

We left the foot doctor and took the elevator one floor up to the eye doctor. You may recall the last time I had taken the Weebles to the eye doctor we all caught the Hanta virus. Dad and I both paused to scan the room for potential virus carriers. Satisfied the room was clean, we settled in to wait.

Ma and Dad sat at opposite ends of the room so they were on good behavior. Ma nodded off and Dad flipped through a Time magazine. The Young One had brought a sketchbook and some colored pencils to keep amused, and I had a book.

Movement by the door to the inner office caught my eye and I looked up. Another weeble couple was coming out. The woman walked with a cane very slowly, and her husband hovered by in case she lost her balance. The man saw me looking at him and his face split into a wide grin as we recognized each other. It was the nice weeble couple from the Tuesday foot doctor appointments. They usually have the appointment just before or just after Ma. He helped his wife to sit down and then the three of us chatted like old friends. I’m amazed at their dynamics. They finish each other’s sentences, smile at each other and I have never heard either one of them sing ‘The Stupid Song.’

The technician came and called Ma’s name.

Ma came to and blinked like an owl when she finally heard her name called.

Dad was fuming at her as she slowly stood and tried to turn her walker to make her way to the office.

“She needs help,” I snapped at him. “Stop yelling at her and help her!”

He jumped to my bidding. I looked at the nice weeble couple and looked at the ceiling while shaking my head. They both gave me a small smile and a sympathetic shrug.

Shortly after Ma and Dad were called in, the nice weeble couple was called in. I marveled at the way the man waited for his wife to stand and gain her balance. He didn’t yell at her. Didn’t make comments about how she couldn’t move quickly. He just hovered by her and arm prepared to steady her in case she needed him. He was chivalrous in an unassuming way. So different from my weebles, and I was thinking ‘we’re not in Kansas any more.’

I heard Ma before I saw her and went to the inner office. She and Dad were coming out of the exam room. The eye doctor had given Ma a prescription for a new pair of glasses.

“Where can I have this prescription filled?” she shouted at the doctor. Ma must have thought he was deaf.

“Anywhere you like,” came the polite response.

That answer didn’t satisfy her, and I stepped in to the doctor’s rescue.

“I can take you to Target after you see the foot doctor tomorrow.”

The doctor breathed a sigh of relief and gave me a small smile.

The Young One and I left Ma and Dad to make their way to the lobby while we sprinted to Nebraska to pick up the car, picked up the Weebles, and took them back home for lunch.

The kitchen table has a piece of glass on top of it to protect the top. The glass is broken in several large pieces, and has a huge crack that runs the width of the table. I can’t remember whether Ma or Dad broke the glass (my periweeblepause is showing). I’m sure it really wouldn’t matter because Dad would be blamed for it even if he didn’t break it.

There’s a definite safety issue when setting the kitchen table for more than two people. The Weebles sit at either end of the table where the glass isn’t broken. I asked Ma for a table cloth to cover the table so we could eat in relative safety. She made Dad sit in the seat where crack formed the great divide. The Young One and I shared the other end of the table.

Lunch was progressing pleasantly. There was a minimum amount of griping from Dad. Ma has a habit of placing her cup at the very edge of the table. The cup teetering on the brink drives Dad insane, and he mumbles comments like Popeye.

Now I’m not sure what actually happened next as I was getting something from the fridge so I didn’t see the incident. Dad was griping at Ma for placing her cup on the edge of the table. The next thing, there was a puddle of soda on the table which Dad was blotting with a napkin. I got up to get a roll of paper towels.

Ma was gleefully singing ‘the Stupid Song.’

Dad had been so sure Ma was going to spill her drink, but when he reached for something across the table, his arm hit her cup and the drink was murdered.

They began moving items from Ma’s end of the table, lifted up the table cloth, and with paper towels were blotting the glass. The soda had run like a river and was seeping through the crack. Dad carefully lifted up the glass to slide a paper towel underneath to blot up the soda. Ma, of course, in her ever helpful way, was yelling at him. The usual stupid and how she’s been doing this for years. Watching them lift the glass was a painful procedure like listening to a dentist’s drill or finger nails screeching on a blackboard. They were griping and sniping at one another about the crack.

“Oh, CRACK your head!” Ma yelled at Dad as they finished the cleaning procedure.

In mid-bite of her sandwich, the Young One looked at me with her eyes wide as saucers.

“She said ‘Crack’”, I told the Young One.

“That’s not what it sounded like to me.”

“You have a filthy mind if that’s what you heard.”

The Young One chewed thoughtfully and swallowed. “Well, since you knew what I was thinking, you have a filthy mind too.”


The phrase “crack your head” entertained the Young One and me all the way home. Just hearing it reduced us to gales of laughter.