Mom passed away peacefully in her sleep last night. Because the stories, and the journey they chronicled, were written lightheartedly, with humor and laughter being the end goal, Bill and I composed, this, Mom’s unofficial obituary to reflect the craziness that passed for our lives during the last 7 years. Thank you, all my loyal followers, for sharing this time with me and Bill and especially Mom.
Mrs. Elaine… passed quietly into the night on September 5, 2016. She was married to John the Nazi for 22 not-so-fun-filled years until she decided that he’d gone bad and sent him back to his daughter.
She is survived by her three children, Patty, Jimmy and the one who never calls; by four grandchildren, Patty’s son Ryan and her daughter – whose either Dana or Amber, and Jimmy’s two girls, whose names she can’t remember but they live in Michigan except one of them moved, maybe to Boston or Ohio or someplace where it gets cold and is dangerous so she should not go out alone at night. She was also a great-grandmother of four. She didn’t know which kids belong to who, but she knew who they were – the older girl, that other boy, the little wild girl and the new one who might be a girl but is probably a boy.
She spent her last few years happily perched on her beloved loveseat where she carried on long and fulfilling relationships with Drew Carey, Tom Bergeron and Alex Trebeck. She’ll miss them.
She will be remembered fondly and thought of often. Good night Mom.
After cleaning the house on Sunday, I was in the shower and Bill was patiently waiting his turn while he sat in the office playing Solitaire on his computer.
As I lathered up, I thought I heard the distinctive sound of the Red Menace coming out of Mom’s bedroom, which meant she was up from her first nap of the day. I quickly rinsed off as I listened to her motoring down the hall toward the living room and, I presumed, into the Arizona room where I knew she’d be looking for me.
I squirted out a blob of shampoo and prepared to wash my hair, but stopped when I heard her returning up the hall. I mentally braced myself, waiting for her to bump the door open to see if I was in the bathroom, but instead she stopped just short of the bathroom at the office door.
“Where are the women?” I heard her say to Bill.
“Women? What women?” he responded.
“You know, the women. Where’d they go?”
“I don’t know,” he stuttered. “In the bathroom maybe?”
“What in the world would they both be doing in there?” she asked sharply.
“Taking a shower?” he offered lamely.
“Well that’s just not right,” she huffed. “I never took a shower with Shirley in my whole life and she’s my sister. That’s just not right.”
“Okay then,” he replied, still sounding somewhat befuddled, “if they’re not in the bathroom, I don’t know where they are.”
This was met with an abrupt harrumph, followed quickly by her rolling away, back down the hall toward the living room once again. Thinking that was the end of it, I quickly shampooed my hair, rinsed and turned off the water.
And then I heard the Red Menace returning up the hall.
“Crap,” I muttered to myself. I grabbed my bath towel, wrapped it snuggly around myself and stepped out of the shower onto the bath rug just as she slammed into the door with the wheelchair. I stepped quickly out of the way as the door stop slammed into the wall and the door ricocheted back toward the door frame.
“Oh, there you are,” she said brightly, ignoring the paint chips that snowed off the front of the door onto the floor as she backed up. “I was just coming to tell him that you and Bill went for a walk.”
“Him?” I asked, wiping water out of my eyes.
“You know, him, in there,” she said, indicating the office with a left jerk of her head. “Anyway, never mind, I guess you didn’t go.”
“Nope. Just trying to take a shower,” I sighed.
“Okay then, I guess I’m going to lay down for a while,” she replied.
“Didn’t you just get up?”
“Yes, but I was just resting my eyes. This time I’ll probably rest more than that.” And with that she performed a perfect U-turn, then hung a left into her bedroom just as Bill poked his head out of the office doorway.
“Is it safe to get in the shower,” he whispered.
“I guess it is, as long as Shirley isn’t in there with you,” I laughed.
Lynn is our Atlanta friend and also the guy for whom we do occasional contract work. The week before the Fourth of July, out of the blue, he sent us a package of Georgia Pecans. These are cinnamon and sugar coated, toffee glazed, chocolate dipped, made in heaven pecans. It was a wonderful surprise and Bill especially was looking forward to the UPS delivery, which, according to the email notice, was due the next day.
As I was gathering up Mom’s plate and cup and utensils after dinner that evening, I suddenly heard him utter a mournful, “Oh no!” from the Arizona Room, followed by a plaintive groan.
I poked my head into the doorway, balancing Mom’s dirty dishes and cutlery in one hand and her half-full waste can in the other. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?” I asked, staring at him as he sat on the sofa, hunched over his tablet.
“No, not really,” he muttered morosely, shaking his head.
“What happened?” I asked, moderately concerned that he might have erroneously trusted a fart.
“My nuts got in a train wreck.”
Okay, I thought to myself, this could actually be more serious that a renegade fart. “So… um, does it really hurt? Should we go to the emergency room?”
“No, no, no. Not MY nuts. Lynn’s nuts.”
“Oh? Well, alrighty then. So did Lynn go to the emergency room?”
“No,” he said, starting to laugh. “The pecans he sent. They were in a train wreck somewhere.”
“Really? How do you know?”
“I got an email that the delivery would be delayed because of a train derailment.”
“Well that sucks,” I replied sympathetically. “At least no one got hurt.”
“No one but my nuts,” he exclaimed, starting to pout again.
We were practicing our serves at the Pickleball courts when a couple we know, Mark and Deb showed up. They’re new to Sun City and recently bought a house here near Mark’s parents to help take care of them. Mark’s a ‘retired’ tennis player (code word for really, really good tennis player), and an excellent Pickleball player, so he’s been teaching Deb the fine art of Pickleball for the last six months or so. When they spotted me and Bill lobbing the ball back and forth, they stopped to say hi and we invited them to play.
After four pretty good games where Mark was kind and didn’t beat us too badly, we decided we needed to head back home and check on Mom.
“That was fun,” Deb commented.
“It was. Thanks, Mark,” I said with a smile and wave, “for going easy on us.”
“He really behaved himself, didn’t he?” Deb whispered to me. “You know he hates to lose.”
“I know,” I said with a smile. “I kind of figured that out the first time we played you guys.”
“I think that’s why he started to put spin on the ball during the last couple of games,” she continued. “When the score gets tight, he just can’t help himself. He did it the other day when we were playing against another couple, Lois and Bob. They were both pretty good, so when the game got close he started to… well, you know.”
I nodded knowingly as I grabbed my bottle of water and started taking a long drink. “In fact,” Deb continued, “Lois even mentioned how great Mark’s spinning balls were.”
I stopped in mid-sip, lowered the bottle and, trying really hard not to laugh, looked Deb square in the eye. “I hope you told her that’s the main reason you married him.”
We’re meeting for another game as soon if Mark can get his spinning balls under control.
“There’s two lizards out back,” Mom yelled as she came down the hall towards her bedroom. “You should go look. I’m going to the john,” came her final announcement as she hung a sharp right into the door frame before correcting and continuing into the bedroom.
I looked away from my PC screen and glanced over my shoulder at Bill. “I guess the resident lizard has a girlfriend.”
“Maybe so,” he replied. “After all, he’s got a lot to offer a girl since we stuccoed and spiffed up the back porch.”
Several minutes later, Mom reemerged from the – pardon the pun – bowels of her bathroom and stopped by the office doorway. “Did you go look at the lizards?”
“Nope, but we’ve seen one of them before. He’s pretty much taken over the porch.”
“Well you should go see the other one. It’s not moving much, but it’s out there.”
I followed the Red Menace down the hall, through the living room and over to the dining room window where Mom stopped and gazed outside. “See them? One of them’s right there at the edge of the stoop.”
I glanced around, taking in the covered porch and the open patio area beyond and noticed our lone lizard as he rested on the edge of the porch, perusing his domain.
“I just see one, Mom. It’s under one of the chairs. Where’s the other one?”
“It’s right there by the griddle. See it?” she asked, pointing towards Bill’s Weber grill. “It isn’t moving too much, but it’s another lizard.”
I squinted at the area surrounding the grill but all I saw were hundreds of fallen yellow Palo Verde blossoms… and a single dried up and curled citrus tree leaf.
“Are you sure that’s a lizard?” I asked. “It looks like a leaf to me.”
“Nope, it’s a lizard for sure.”
“Well, since it isn’t moving, how do you know it’s a lizard?”
“Because the bird keeps looking at it.”
“What bird? The invisible bird?”
“No, the bird in the bird nest hanging there. He isn’t invisible, I can see him just fine. You just don’t look out at the right times to see him. And now he keeps peeking out at the lizard.”
“Like he’s afraid of it?”
“No, like it wants to eat it and that’s why it isn’t moving. It doesn’t want to turn into a bird lunch.”
“Okey dokey then,” I said, turning away and walking back toward the office. “If the invisible bird decides to eat the invisible lizard for lunch, give me a holler. I’d like to see that.”
“Will do,” she responded absently as she continued staring out the window. “It’s almost lunchtime, so I’m guessing it won’t be too long now.”
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, MOM. WE LOVE YOU.