Thursday, November 19, 2009

Business Calls

Ma recently changed banks. Dad said he would call social security to notify them of the change. I was able to find the phone number for her union office. Dad said he would call them too.

After a week, the calls hadn't been made. I wasn't sure if he just didn't want to be bothered or if it was his way of paying Ma back for all her griping. She wouldn't make the calls herself. And he wasn't going to call. A catch-22.

A friend told me, he was probably confused by the automated answering menu. Maybe. I found myself making phone calls and chasing down paper work for direct deposit of her social security check and pension check. I had her sit by the telephone with me so I could hand the phone to her so she could verify her identity. These people don't want to talk to me. The Privacy Act is good and bad.

I was relaying my irritation to Himself. Ma for all her claims to be Ms. Independent is very dependent. There really is no reason she can't make these calls herself.

"I don't like to talk on the telephone," I mimicked in Ma's whiny voice. "I don't know what to say."

She might not like to talk on the telephone, but she has no qualms about picking up the phone and making calls to Auntie Rose's buddies in ^#$^# * Jamaica!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What A Crock

While visiting with Ma, the conversation turned to the fare I served for the holy days of obligation. When cooking for a crowd, I usually cook in the crockpot. Chicken cacciatore or shrimp Creole served over rice. We've done chicken, steak, hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, if the weather has been nice. Lasagna with eggplant Parmagiana (courtesy of Himself). Turkey for Thanksgiving. Shrimp scampi or creole for Christmas Eve (a nod to the Feast of the Seven Fishes because I hate most of the traditional fish (eel, salted cod). All the meals are served with fresh baked bread, salad, and The Brother and his family bring dessert, coffee, and sometimes salad. The meals are all crowd pleasers at least where my family is concerned. I've made home-made ravioli though they fell short in Ma's estimation though Himself assured me my ravioli were better than Ma's.

"Well," she sniffed. "You don't serve the kind of food I do. Your meals are cheap."

A friend recently told me "No one can burst your bubble faster than your mother." How true! Ma it seems doesn't care for "casseroles." Now I realize her statement comes more from the fact that she has to relinquish control to the younger generation. It's classic OPD. She can't do things the way she used to. Still, I was a little hurt by her comment.

In my defense may I say I find cooking in the crockpot convenient. I don't have to spend days cooking for an event only to be worn out, I can't enjoy the company. Like Ma and all the aunties did in the old days. I can start a meal early in the morning, and it's ready when company shows up. I don't have to worry it will dry out when Himself will call to tell me the Weebles are running late.

On the way home, I planned the menu for Thanksgiving, the next holy day of obligation. We're having Chinese food.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Illegal Use of Hands

After her two week vacation in the hospital and rehab for her dislocated shoulder, Ma had to see the orthopedic surgeon for a follow up. Her appointment was a day or two before a mahket run. With her arm in a sling, I didn't want to deal with Ma trying to maneuver the scooter around the store. She can barely control the damned thing with two hands. I couldn't imagine her trying one handed. Can you imagine the havoc she'd wreak on the poor Little Debbies?

After having an x-ray, the doctor told Ma her shoulder was healing. She had torn the rotator cuff and other ligaments in her shoulder. She will never be able to reach overhead, but as long as she can get herself bathed, dressed, and fed, we'd call it good.

The doctor was about to dismiss us when I moved closer to him so I could talk without Ma really being able to hear.

"Tell her she can't go to the Mahket."

"There's no reason she can't go shopping."

"Tell her," I hissed.

"You tell her," he said looking at me perplexed. I know what the young doctor was thinking. To him, I'm a weeble so he was wondering what the heck my problem was. He could tell I was agitated, but he didn't know I was worried for all the lives of the fruits and vegetables and Little Debbies if Ma careened around the store on the scooter one handed.

"She won't hear it from me. You're the authority figure. You tell her," I inched closer and nudged him in the ribs.

His eyes grew round, and he looked from me to Ma.

"Ma, you can't go shopping. You need to keep wearing the sling. I'll see you again in three weeks"

Ma nodded.

I beamed at the doctor. Such a pleasant young man.

"Thank you, Doctor."

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Telephone

The telephone in Ma's room while she vacationed in the hospital, was a modern wonder. No longer the bulky desk phone that would crash to the floor when the patient went to answer the phone. The telephone was just a sleek handset. There was a round earpiece that tapered to the mic like a lollipop shape. A light flashed on the handset to let one know a call was coming in. Press the flashing light and the call is connected. The handset also controlled the bed and the television.

I was heading to the hospital for a visit and decided to call to see if there was anything Ma wanted me to bring. I also wanted to let the Happy Wanderer know I would take him home after I visited with Ma.

The telephone rang a couple of times and I heard Dad answer though his voice sounded far away.



"Hello? Hello?"

"Dad? DAD! It's me!"

I could hear Ma in the background faintly ask "Who is it?"

"I don't know. There's no one there."



I tried again.


"Hi Dad, it's..."

"Hello? Hello? There's no one..."

"DAD! It's ME. DON'T HANG..."


"Damn it!"

Dad must have been holding the handset upside down with the mic to his ear and the rounded part near his mouth. I could hear him, albeit faintly, so he must have pressed the flashing light.

From the sun room came the sound of laughter. No, not laughter. Chortling. Himself was comfortably ensconced in his lounge chair, feet up, and he was dying of laughter.

The phone converstation with Dad, or rather the lack of a conversation had annoyed me. I didn't want to get up to the hospital to find Ma wanted a certain nightgown, or lotion, or any number of things I could have easily picked up as I sailed by their house on the way to the hospital. I did not find Himself's guffawing the least bit endearing.

"What the hell are you laughing at?"

"Oh," Himself wiped tears from his eyes. "It was such a classic routine! The timing was perfect. You really should take that act on the road."
"I just live to amuse you."

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Fun Fact

Ma does not like Chinese food. When she was a kid, some bright spark told her the meat used was cat meat.
She won't touch Chinese food. She wouldn't even try it when her good friends celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at a Chinese restaurant.