Inches

Karen and I go to Howell every Saturday night and take Mom out to Applebee’s and a show. We need another place to eat since I have that menu memorized. I’m just grateful she’s not into Steak and Shake. When Karen was away it was up to me. I felt that I wanted a night off since I was so mischievous while Karen was gone. Just one night off. I also know that at 89, Mom looks forward to our nights out. So I went back and forth and then just decided to go. I called her early in the morning and told her I was coming between 4-430p. She called at 330p and asked me where I was. I told her I would be there between 4-430p which is our regular time. When I arrived at Oak Haven, I was literally four steps from her door when my phone rang and looking at my phone which said “Mom” was calling. I answered but the call dropped. I walked in and closed the door.

“Tim, where are you?”
“I’m here.” I turned around and noticed she was talking on the phone and her back was to me. I stood there. “So you’re here now?” she asked. “Mom, I’m right here, I said. “Are you in the parking lot?” she said into the phone. “Mother, I’m here.” “Oh, ok. I just wanted you to know that I was able to get you in to eat in our dining room tonight!” At this point I was amused she was still speaking into the phone but felt this was getting to the point of cruelty. I walked up beside her so she could see me and said “See, I’m here.” “Oh” she said into the phone. “He’s here, never mind. Bye.” I thought this little vignette alone was worth the trip. She turned around and gave me a big hug and I noticed that she had gotten her hair cut and permed and she was dressed to the nines. I said “Oh look at you! You look so nice! You got your hair cut! You look great!” She just beamed. At this point I felt like a real shit for even considering not coming tonight. These visits are huge for her. She then proceeded to tell me three times, at varying intervals, about how she was unable to get me in to eat at the cafeteria and then able to get me a seat after all. She was so proud of her persistence and success. She had talked about how wonderful the food was, but I have to tell you, it wasn’t registering on the Richter scale for me. So we went down the hall to dinner. We had a table to ourselves and she was worried no one would join us. I know that she loves to have her kids over and she’s told me stories of how so-and-so’s kids never come. This is a big thing here. So again I felt like a shit for even considering not coming tonight. Her friend Sally finally joined us at the table and we ate chicken salad croissants, tomato bisque, pickled three bean salad and a strawberry mousse for desert and coffee. Probably the best I ever had. The whole while Mom sat there 10 feet tall and bullet proof. We left for the movie and saw Joy, and I’m pretty sure she slept through it, although she is very cagey these days in camouflaging her sleeping during movies. Of course she hated it. She hates every movie unless there is humor and lots of romance and kissing. Last week Karen and I took her to see “Sisters” with Tina Fey and Amy Pohler. After a hellacious party, Tina Fey is cleaning up a wall-size magic marker drawing of a huge Schwantz and taking selfies in obscene positions with the Schwantz. Although I’m now 60 and Mom is 89, it is still awkward as hell, probably for both of us, to watch any kind of sexual anything with your mother. I’m sure she pretended to be sleeping although I honestly couldn’t look at her. So I take her home and we say good night, I give her a big hug and a smootch. While driving home I thought about my decision to go after all. I realized that many times I either make it by inches or miss it by inches. Tonight I made it and I’m glad. It was so important to her.

Since our kids left, there are five words that seem to get me off the dime, every time. And I’ve noticed, that for me, they are applicable a lot of the time.
“It is not about you.”

Vacation

Karen left this week to visit her parents in Florida so I’m home alone with Elly Belle and the Cheshire twins. When both our kids and marriage were young, there were many times that I’d been alone. The novelty lasted a couple of days and then I’d get lonesome. But I have to tell you that I’m having a blast this week. It’s the strangest thing. I go to bed and get I up whenever I please, take mid day naps in the mid week, watch movies with my coffee instead of the News, I’m readIng more, writing more and have been listening to Pandora continually for days now. I went to the corner store and bought Vernors Ginger Ale (with sugar by God) and I’m not even sick. I bought Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and I’ll eat it for breakfast if I have a mind to. Yesterday I sat down with my MaCallan’s Scotch and watched the “Cosmos” with Neil DeGrasse. I can’t understand that stuff on my best days and certainly not while drinking Scotch. I thought it would help me relax, enlighten my abilities and the little voice whispering “How stupid am I really?” would shut the hell up so I could understand Neil. Well that was a fail and I started watching Mad Max instead.

I was talking to Karen on the phone about it. “Yeah I DO miss you but I’m having a great time!” And she’s the one in Florida. I offered that since I retired several weeks back, I feel guilty about not working while she works each day. That I feel I have to get up and go to bed the same time she does. That I have projects planned each day and feel the pressure to get them done. And that does include cleaning the house, the dishes and doing the laundry. I’ll cook something for dinner that she can smell when she walks in the door at the end of her day. And that by the end of the day she’ll notice that I was not just sitting around. I have to make an effort to not feel guilty about it. I’ve been working since 14 years old and I’m entitled to it after all these years. I envisioned rolling around naked on the living room carpet for the first week after I retired. But it’s not that way.

Now I am committed to enlightenment and self improvement. I told her that I can get over this, it may be tough but with her support I feel I can do anything. My plan when she gets home is to continue to let the dishes stack and laundry pile high, to nap and watch movies during the day while eating Ben and Jerrys and drinking Scotch. That’s right baby. THE CLOTHES ARE COMING OFF!!

“Hello?……Karen?”