I promised myself this summer would be different, and until Day #75 I had managed to keep my cool. Something about yesterday made me forget about my promise.
Perhaps it was the fact it was Day #75 with my mom in town…or possibly this particular Sunday marked my first day off in six days…or maybe it was the heat index thanks to the goddamn humidity that fueled the fire.
What ever it was, it caused me to consider an uncharacteristic trip to a weekday mass this morning in hopes of asking for forgiveness in the event God may want to take me tonight in my sleep. If He has any crazy ideas for me today, I know one thing for sure; heaven won’t want me…
I am going to hell. In a hand basket.
Mom has been summering with us since May 17th after wintering with my sister since October 30th of last year. I met the gal in the wheelchair at Midway Baggage Claim #6 seventy-five days ago (actually, seventy-five days, twelve hours, thirty-seven minutes and seventeen seconds ago, but who is counting?).
Please don’t feel any pity…Mom is not handicapped…she’s merely learned how to work Southwest’s system.
As a “handicapped” customer, Mom finds she can be shuttled through the terminal and to the gate at light speed. Her “condition” allows her to be the first on the plane (no need to elbow for an empty aisle seat–she’s got the “claustrophobia” you know) and ensures her ass is one of the first to deplane and is subsequently chauffeured to the baggage terminal upon arrival at Sky Harbor each October and in Chicago each June.
Let me make it clear…she is not handicapped…she is a genius.
We greeted our house guest early this year…something about “the other grandmother” arriving and needing the guest room in PHX and something more about “the other’s” extreme jealousy of the “handicapped” grandma’s presence. Whatever.
I made myself a promise…I decided to be more patient with the old gal this year. Instead of snapping during times of stress I’d travel down a mellower path. Dad passed away in December, and trust me, I’d give my first born to have him be a “pain-in-my-ass” just one more time.
Hence my need to be patient with his ex-wife…she is not going to be around forever. Life is too short for stress. Right?
I lasted longer than I thought I would. Longer than I have in a long time.
There was the year I completely flipped out on the Fourth of July…yep…flipped the flippin’ flip out. Upon her arrival that particular summer, Mom voiced her dislike for dryer sheets…the smell made her gasp for her breath. She had a similar aversion to Carpet Fresh…she would gag every time I would sprinkle it.
I am ashamed to admit that I kept a container of the stuff around to use when she really pissed me off. As she napped I’d sprinkle that shit like there was no tomorrow and giggle to myself when she would “fake cough” upon awaking from her afternoon nap.
Don’t judge me…there is no official diagnosis for the coughing fits that follow sniffing anything with a scent (this includes any household cleanser…I wash the floors with vinegar during the summer–yep, it smells “douche-ly fresh” around here…yummmo). Remember, this is the same lady who claims “handicap status” to board a plane. Faker.
Anyway, back to the dryer sheets. I walked around for the better part of the summer in underwear like cardboard (no, I didn’t use the liquid stuff…never got to the rinse cycle in time…I know I could have used one of those balls…but I was proving a point…if my underwear were stiff, I knew her bloomers were as well…and misery she sure loves her some company) and then came the night we were headed out with the kids to watch the fireworks.
The fireworks came early that year as my Mother…the gal who experienced severe distress from dryer sheets, suggested we swing by Walgreens to pick up a box to stuff in our pockets and dashboard…apparently they are a deterrent for mosquitoes.
Even more shocking is the gal who lurked about in drawers that were stiff as a board all summer had no problem stuffing these puppies in places I still cannot believe she stuffed them.
Yep, fireworks came early that year…I blew a fuse.
Much like a pot of coffee, trouble has been brewing for a couple of weeks. Me working does not help matters…for anybody involved.
I leave at 3:45 in the morning…and get home around 11:30. Seems ideal, right. That is what I thought.
The husband works third shift…therefore my mother aka “The Warden” has taken a sabbatical from her other alter egos…”Sherlock Holmes”…”Inspector Doubleclutch”… although, she reserves the right to multi-task.
The kids suffer as Grandma minces no words when taking on the role of being in charge…and takes it upon herself to tattle on them…I, of course, get the play-by-play every day upon arrival…who did what, to whom, at what time…Grandma of course is stressed out from the responsibility of being in charge and jonesing for her daily Dunkin’ Donut Hazelnut (Lg…cream…extra sugar) fix…hey, I’m sorry, I’m so excited to head home I forget (too tired) to stop.
Hey, I said I was sorry.
Last week I arrived home to hear tales of the “goddamn garbage truck” that woke her up…next day it was the car alarm that went off for “two goddamn hours”…and of course reports of the phone ringing from the “same goddamn number” five times that morning…and a few times the day before. Never fear…Sherlock Holmes’ distant cousin was on the case.
My phone’s ID system goes something like this…if you press the arrow down, most recent calls/numbers appear…press up arrow and you get stored numbers in the tele.
“Blindstein” was pressing the arrow up hence the reason for “the same goddamn number”.
So, she did what anyone would do (please capture my sarcasm…please)…she called back the number to see if there was something she could do to help them.
A year ago I would have hit the roof…and flipped out on her. But I bit my tongue and attempted to explain the reason that number continued to come up.
I flipped out on my brother, instead. I turned red as I retold him the story. He wanted to know who she called…I had no frickin’ idea…I think it was the number of someone I had interviewed with recently…and.that.was.not.important.
I quickly posed a “what-if” to him. “Doesn’t matter who it was…they were not calling HER phone…they were calling MINE…what if whoever called was John’s girlfriend…or my boyfriend (a girl can dream!)? Point is she can take the summer off from solving fucking mysteries…! I thanked my brother for letting me vent, reasoning she is not going to be around forever, I hate to snap at her.
Last weekend came the “key mystery”. Older son apparently has had enough of living in his own filth (stand-off has been going on for about a month) and cleaned his room. His idea of cleaning is much like his father…take everything you don’t need and make a huge pile on the couch where I usually rest my fat ass and let me sort the stuff out.
Among the crap was a set of keys…with a mace-like holder for a key-chain. I had never seen the keys before. Never fear though, Sherlock was on the case.
Convinced they were “car keys” (ahem, they were clearly house keys) the investigator was convinced they were to my Dad’s car and she had brought them home with her.
We bickered back and forth for a bit…Dad’s keys are clearly Cadillac keys…and are gold. These are frickin’ house keys.
Now she was convinced they were to my mother-in-law’s house? Eh??
I put an end to the madness by putting my foot down suggesting they belonged to a friend of the kid’s…maybe one of the, I don’t know, twenty odd kids who have frequented the men’s den in the last year may have left them behind. Based on the crap on the floor…I forgot the color of the carpet based on the last time I had seen it. Case closed, all the while biting my bottom lip so as not to snap.
Over for me, maybe, but not for Inspector Doubleclutch. She proceeded to question every possible perp as they came home…in hushed tones, of course. I pretended not to hear her as I slowly steamed.
And then came last night…and my crime…my broken promise.
After her post-White Sox nap she took her seat in the recliner looking for the news. I am in the kitchen making dinner…it is hotter than hell outside…I am soaking with sweat following a brief trip to Walgreens…my hair is literally stuck to the back of my neck. I am in no mood for wisenheimers.
Anyway, my younger boy is telling Grandma how excited he is for dinner. “Mom is making gnocchi, she hasn’t made it in a while…oh, Grandma it is so good…remember Uncle John always gets it when we go to Frankie’s?”
He explains that they are dumplings served in my doctored up marinara sauce. And, yes, mom remembered to get the “good crusty bread”… because what is an Italian meal without the crusty bread…that’s what the chief always says.
We sit down to eat…the meal was simple based on the “disgusting-ness” of the day. If it were up to me, I would have had ice cream sundaes for dinner…it was that effin’ hot. Instead it was gnocchi, sliced fresh bread and butter. Bon Appetite!
She takes her seat at the table…her seat is at the head of the table and faces the entire room so as to see everything that is/could possibly go on during the meal…again, seat choice is also due to her “clausterphobic-ness”.
As I am plating the food…I hear her asking the kid what we are having…in hushed tones, yet loud enough for me to hear…his repeated explanation crystal clear.
When I put the plates down, her discerning nose crinkles up…(please keep in mind the family she “winters” with are freaks…food wise. Severe gluten allergies…deadly rashes and loose stools result…and remember that their apples fall from the tree that houses the gal that is taking Southwest for a “handicap” ride)…and says WHAT is this???
Now, bear in mind I have heard the kid tell her twice exactly what it is. Her questions are a way of assuring me she has no intention to digest what I have served.
If she were not my mother, trust me, I’d have stuck “WHAT is this??” right up her ass. But, she is my mother…and I made that god-damned promise.
Now she painstakingly holds a dumpling to her lip as if being forced to literally eat shit…dabbing it on her bottom lip as if she were temp testing baby food, before making “the face” and dropping it to her plate.
And, with that, I snap.
Apparently, seventy-five days is my limit…when going from mellow to bat-shit crazy in two seconds. Perhaps it was the humidity…or maybe I’m just an asshole.
But, I’m telling you steam was coming out of my ears…and my face had to be beet red…my blood pressure had to be sky-high…I felt a vein in my temple begin to thump as I clenched my fists and shouted without taking a breath,
“IT IS GNOCCHI…AN-ITALIAN-POTATO-DUMPLING-SWIMMING-IN-MY-OWN-DOCTORED-MARINARA-SAUCE. EAT-IT-EAT-IT….IT.IS.FUCKING.DELICIOUS…EAT IT!
With that she emptied her plate on the kid’s plate and grabbed another helping of her fucking crusty bread…and informed whoever might have been interested that she wasn’t eating tonight.
Neither was I … lost my appetite…and broke a promise.
Today I brought her a cup of coffee…my form of a white flag I guess. An hour later I entertained this conversation…
“Do you know what we haven’t had since I’ve been home…Bacon-lettuce-and-“tomata”… nobody here is a huge fan with the exception of our guest…but that doesn’t matter, really.
And I’ll probably make it for her at some point. But you had better believe it will be served with a side of gnocchi…I promise 😉
Better yet, I might take her out once the weather breaks and treat her to a BLT…poor gal is probably going stir crazy and this a problem a field trip can solve.
BTW…she’s getting her favorite for din din tonight…Lemon Chicken and angel hair pasta…oh yeah, I still have some of her “crusty bread”. I am sure she is hungry…and I am not completely heartless.
What is the craziest thing your mother has done that made you hit the roof? I know you’ve got to have something. Please have something…otherwise I ought to be ashamed of myself (even more than I already am).
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