The Last Laugh

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

12/10/1925 – 9/5/2016

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Fat Bread

“Would you like a half of a turkey sandwich?” I yell to Mom from the kitchen as I dragged out plates and sandwich ingredients from the frig.

“Sure,” she called back.  “Are you cutting it?”

“Cutting what?  The turkey?”

“No, the bread.”

I paused next to the kitchen counter, juggling a package of turkey slices, another of Smoked Gouda slices, a jar of mayonnaise, a head of lettuce and a loaf of 12-grain bread.  “The bread?” I asked loudly.

“Yes, are you cutting it or getting it?”

I dumped the lunch makings onto the counter and walked out of the kitchen and into the living room.  “What do you mean am I cutting it.  It’s bread.”

“But the last time you made me a sandwich, you cut it too thick and I could hardly bite down on it,” she explained, opening her mouth wide, then loudly chomping her teeth together three or four times for emphasis.

“Mom,” I sighed, “it’s just a loaf from the store.  It’s already sliced.”

“Oh, okay.  Then it must have been a different loaf the last time.  It was almost too fat to eat.”

“It’s the same bread we always get,” I said, turning to go back into the kitchen.

“Then you probably got a mistake.”

“A mistake?” I asked, pausing in the kitchen doorway.  “What do you mean, a mistake?”

“You know, a mistake.  Like the checker people didn’t check close enough and fat slices got put in the package.”

“Yup, that must be it,” I laughed.  “Those damn checker people.  And I’ll bet they probably want $15 an hour too, just like the McDonald’s people.”

“Well that’s not right.  If they aren’t smart enough to know a fat slice of bread from a skinny one, then they don’t deserve a raise.”

fat bread


Hairy Pasta

I was showing Mom a couple of choices of frozen meals for dinner: oven-roasted turkey with red mashed potatoes or Angel Hair Pasta Prima Vera.  “Do either one of these trip your trigger?” I asked after, what seemed like, two or three minutes of her staring at the labels.

“I’m just not sure,” she said, switching her attention back and forth between the two boxes.

“Mom, my fingers are starting to go numb,” I commented, trying to evoke a decision.  “So if you don’t like either of these, I’ll go get a couple more out of the freezer.”

“Well, I’m just not sure.  I’m not too crazy about the mashed potatoes.”

“Oh, and why don’t you like mashed potatoes anymore?”

“Because they taste too potatoey.”

“Okey dokey, that make absolutely no sense.  But what about the Angel Hair pasta?”

“I really don’t think I’d like it very much.”

“No?  Why not?”

“Because I don’t imagine food made out of some kind of hair would be very good.  Angle hair?  What is that, some kind of cat?

“It’s pasta, Mom.  It’s made out of flour and water and salt, not cat hair!  And its angel not angle.”

“Whatever.  Besides, that’s like the food they make out of old thread.  That’s probably pretty bad too.”

“Old thread?  What on earth are you talking about?”

“You know, that stuff in Chinese food.  Sewing beans.  I swear to God, they’ll eat anything.”

“They?  Do you mean Chinese people?”

“No, not them.  Those hippies that like to eat with shop sticks because they think they can.  But all they do is spill rice and sewing beans all over the tablecloth.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked in frustration as I shifted my grip on the boxes to avoid frostbite.  “What hippies?”

“The ones on the TV this morning on some show.  They were talking about healthy food and stuff and eating with shop sticks.  They looked like idiots.”

“Okay then,” I sighed, trying to get the dinner planning back on track.  “I’ll get a couple more meals for you to look at.  But, just so you know, Angel Hair pasta isn’t made out of hair.  It’s regular pasta but really thin, you know, kind of like hair.”

“Oh, well that makes more sense I guess.  I’ll try that one but I think they should change the name to something better.  Maybe Not Hairy Pasta.”

“I’ll pass that on to the Lean Cuisine people next time I see them,” I called over my shoulder as I escaped back into the kitchen.

angelhair


Termites

Bill and I were in the office when Mom got up from her second morning nap.  After tooling all over the house, she finally landed back in front of the office door.

“Oh, hi there!” she said with a note of surprise.

“Hi,” I responded.  “Did you have a nice nap?”

“I guess so.  But I think you have termites.”

Bill and I looked at each other and, with a shrug, he returned to whatever he was doing on his computer.

“Why do you think we have termites?” I asked.

“Because they’re eating the paint off the walls,” she replied.

“First of all, I don’t think termites eat paint,” I said.  “They eat wood.  And second … “

“Well these termites are eating through the paint to get to the wood.  See,” she said, pointing over her shoulder towards her bedroom.

“So you’re telling me there are termites in your bedroom?”

“Not yet.  They’re in the hall, though, right outside my bedroom.  Come and look.”

I slowly pushed up from my office chair and walked over to where she was parked in the doorway.  “I’m afraid you’ll have to move if you want me to come out into the hall.”

“You don’t have to come out.  You can see it right there,” she said, pointing toward the entry way into her bedroom.  I glanced at the paint chips that were scattered on the floor.

wall damage

“Mom, that’s damage from your wheelchair.  Yesterday you scrapped the paint off  all the way down to the flashing.  We just haven’t vacuumed it up yet.”

“Oh, I don’t think I did that.  I’m pretty sure it’s termites.  You better call the bug guy.”

“I’m thinking maybe a wall repair guy would be better.”

“No, you have Bill for that, maybe when he gets back from his walk.  But he doesn’t know about termites.  Better get it checked out before the whole house falls down,” she ordered before driving away.

I glanced over at Bill, who was furiously pounding on his keyboard.  “Honey, when you get back from your walk, you better call the bug guy,” I joked.

“Hmmmph,” he muttered.  “How about I look on Angie’s List and find us a good general contractor.  Or a good painter.  Or, even better, a competent psychiatrist.”

“Or maybe a live-in bartender,” I offered with a grin.


Pickle Me This

Bill and I walked in the house at 8:45 the other morning after a couple of hours playing Pickleball.  It’s only the middle of August, so we’re in the heart of monsoon season.  The temperature had already reached 98, the humidity was in the high 40’s and we were completely sweat soaked.  Mom greeted us with a wide-eyed stare as we trudged through the living room.

“Were you at the pool?” she asked, noting our saturated tee shirts.

“No, we were playing Pickleball,” I replied as I kept walking, hoping to beat Bill to the shower.

“Tell me again what Pickleball is,” she said, pulling me up short in the foyer.  I heard Bill chuckle as he quickly passed me and made a beeline for the bathroom.

I turned and begrudgingly returned to the living room.  “It’s sort of like tennis,” I explained for the 10th or 12th time, “but the court is smaller and you use a paddle instead of a racket, and a whiffle ball.”

“Like a ping pong ball?”

“No.  The ball is about the same size as a tennis ball but it’s plastic and has holes in it.”

“But you use paddles.”

“Yes.”

“So you have to hit the ball with two hands?” she asked as I turned to go.

“No, just one hand,” I said, pausing on my way out of the room.  “Why would you think it took two hands?”

“Well a paddle is pretty big and heavy.  It seems like a stupid thing to use to hit a waffle ball with.”

“Whiffle, not waffle.  And besides, what would you use it for?”

“To get around a lake.”

“Mom, it isn’t that kind of paddle.  It isn’t like an oar.  It’s like a ping pong paddle on steroids,” I replied.

“Aren’t those bad for you?”

“Steroids?  Sometimes I guess, but not for paddles,” I said over my shoulder as I walked away.

“Well you be careful when you’re playing so you don’t catch any of those steroid balls,” she shouted after me.  “Just paddle them, don’t touch them.”

“Okay, Mom,” I yelled from halfway down the hall.  “No ball touching.”

“What?” Bill called out from the shower.  “Whose balls are you touching?”

“Pickle balls,” I answered as I poked my head into the bathroom.  “Steroid laden pickle balls.”

“Don’t tell me,” he moaned, sticking his head back under the running water.  “I don’t even want to know!”

Pickleball3


Feet in the Attic

We’re finally getting some overdue monsoon activity.  The first big storm hit the last week of July and included thunder, lightning, blowing dust, rain, the whole works.  It hit well east of Sun City first, then build up steam as it moved west before it finally landed over our house about 8:00, which also coincides with Mom’s bedtime.

Right about the time she got settled into bed, thunder rolled overhead and lightning lit up the backyard.  Just as the television picture broke into a thousand digital pieces when rain clouds briefly blocked the satellite signal in the southwestern sky, I heard the click, click, click of the Red Menace’s joystick being engaged and a minute later Mom was parked in the Arizona Room doorway.

“There’s feet up there,” she exclaimed over another rumble of thunder.  “They’re making too much noise.”

“Mom, it’s thunder, not feet,” I replied.  “There’s a storm moving in.”

“Well that may be, but the people upstairs are still making too much noise,” she countered, pointing toward the ceiling.  “Bill needs to tell them to settle down.”

Bill glanced over at me with a confused look on his face.  “Upstairs?” he whispered.  “People?”

“It’s a storm, Mom,” I replied with a sigh.  “We’re finally going to get some rain.  There is no upstairs, just the attic and it’s got to be 150 degrees up there.”

“I know that,” she responded defensively.  “But it’s still feet.  Feet in the attic.  And it’s loud.”  And with that, she turned abruptly and motored away.

“Does she think we have people living in the attic?” Bill asked as she rolled through the living room on her way back to bed.

“Not people,” she called out.  “Rats.  Big roof rats.”

“We don’t have roof rats,” I hollered after her.  “It’s THUNDER!”

“Rat!” came her retort from the hallway.  “With big FEET!”

rat


Dust Breezes

“Guess what I heard?” Mom quipped.

“Oh, I don’t know,” I responded.  “A meteor is headed for earth and we’re all going to die?”

“What?  No.  Is that really going to happen?”

“No, Mom, I was just kidding.  What did you hear?”

“You’ll never guess,” she replied.

“You’re right, I’ll never guess.  So what is it?”

“Phoenix isn’t the hottest city in American,” she answered with a big grin.

“Really?  So where is the hottest city in American?”

“You’ll never guess.”

“Okay,” I said with a sigh of resignation.  “I’ll play.  Bullhead City?  Yuma?”

“Nope, nope.  It isn’t even in Arizona.”

“Really?  I find that hard to believe.  Okay, how about Palm Springs?”

“No, and it isn’t over there either.”

“Do you mean California?  It isn’t in California?”

“Yes.  Palm Springs, California.  That’s where Bob Hope lives, you know.”

“Or at least his mummified remains,” I muttered.  “Well, I give up. Where’s the hottest city?”

“In Miami!”

“Florida?” I responded, somewhat surprised.

“No, it’s another Miami I think.  Maybe Ohio.  Florida wouldn’t be hotter because it’s got oceans to keep it cooled off.”

“Oh, okay.  And I guess we’ve got the shadows of big Saguaros to keep us cool,” I laughed.

“Maybe so,” she smiled.  “Or maybe it’s all the dust breezes.”

“Dust breezes?” I replied.  “Like the haboobs?  You mean those dust breezes?”

“Yes those ones.  And the other ones too,” she said, picking up her TV guide and the remote.

“Other ones?  Are you thinking of monsoons?”

“No.  The other ones that come from the golf courses.”

“I think you mean the Gulf of California.”

“Whatever.  California golf courses or Arizona golf courses, they all bring in the dust breezes,” she answered as she turned on the TV and settled in for a visit with Drew Carey and his hair color of the day.

7-4-14 Haboob