Amazing Grace… I mean Amazing Deb

Ever have that person in your life that is ALWAYS there for you?  What words are used to express magnificence?  Good, great, awesome, spectacular; I use AMAZING and sometimes that falls short when it comes to her. Debbie Myers is my Amazing Grace.  She is that person who always calls at the right time, always asks about me before sharing her own concerns, worries, tragedies, triumphs or joy.  And me, who many times fails to  give her the opportunity to share her life because of my endless ramblings of me, my crisis, my ups and my downs.  Regardless, she is always sincere, always eager to offer her ear and support, always kind and most of all she is always present.  So many times I’ve felt guilty, guilty that I’ve used her, used her during my ups and downs, simply used her because I needed her.   Well Debbie Myers, sometimes I may use and abuse you but I always appreciate you and will cherish your friendship forever.

Someone May Need This More Than I Do

My dad had his stroke when he was 49. He never regained full use of his left side, his mobility decreased with age and it worsened after a knee replacement. I don’t recall when he applied for and obtained his handicapped parking placard but I will always remember his consideration for others and his belief that he didn’t have it “all that bad”, half full cup was his motto most of the time. All of the years he was able to use his placard he never parked in a handicapped parking spot if it was the only or last one available, instead he would park elsewhere and use his cane to get to a Dr.’s appointment, the store or even when going for his radiation treatment. It may take him longer to get to his destination, it may have been difficult for him but he never hesitated keeping the only parking spot open for someone that needed it more than him.

The Original Ice Cube

Long before rapper Ice Cube was popular there was my mom.  Ice Cube and The Cube were my nicknames for her when I was in my teens.  My mom rarely ever showed emotions, well I’ll correct myself, she showed anger but that was about it.  I clearly remember the only two times I have ever seen my mom cry; the first time I was 9 and it was my birthday, I heard my mom on the phone and she had just received word that her father passed away.  It was an awful and foreign feeling seeing her cry.  The next time I was 16 and getting ready for school when I heard her crying, I was frightened, I didn’t want to know what it was or why because it had to be horrific.  I got the courage to go to her as she sat at the kitchen table, head in her hands and ask her what was wrong.  She proceeded to tell me the night before she had gone to the outside freezer which was filled with a new batch of the half cow they would buy every year and between tears told me she left the door to the freezer open all night.  Now I am even more frightened because I am waiting for the reason she is in tears, is she so distraught that she can’t tell me who died?  I ask her “and then what?” she screams “that’s it!  all the meat is spoiled, ruined, all that money is gone”.  I think to myself is she really this upset over something like this?  Yes, she was. 

The other memory of my mom’s Ice Cube mentality was when I was 10, I admit I was somewhat spoiled and babied and by this age I knew there wasn’t a Santa Claus but I never admitted it and a small part of me held out hope it was true.  Most if not all of my friends of the same age knew Santa wasn’t real and hadn’t believed for years but that didn’t change the way I felt.  On this particular summer day I lost a tooth, I remember being so excited about putting it under my pillow that night and retrieving my money the tooth fairy would leave me.  I carefully placed the tooth on a napkin and for whatever reason placed it atop the television.  That evening after my bath I ran to get my tooth to place under my pillow but…. it was gone!  I knew I put it there and I immediately started crying, my mom asks where I put it and I told her when she realized what happened; she had cleaned house earlier that day (and mind you she didn’t clean all that often) and didn’t notice the tooth and suspected she threw it in the trash.  With me continuing to cry she decides to look through the trash in hopes she can find it.  I don’t let up, I stand next to her as she goes through the kitchen trash she gets more angry and eventually dumps the entire trash on the kitchen floor realizing finding the tooth is like looking for the needle in a haystack.  As the poor woman is going through the trash I repeatedly ask her if she’s found it yet and eventually she does the head spinning trick we’ve all seen in The Exorcist and says “dammit Denise there’s Santa Claus, there’s no Easter Bunny and there’s no Tooth Fairy”.  Gulp, well that’s a pretty shitty way to tell me. 

Since I became a parent I’ve looked back at that moment several times, I don’t look back with disappointment in my mom for saying that to me on that day as much as I wish she wouldn’t have let me get away with being such a demanding diva when I was a kid. 

 

The Floor Store

Prior to my dad coming home from the nursing home my mom wanted to get some home improvements done around the house.  Some areas new flooring, a new shower and some doors widened. My parents had purchased a rather expensive walk in tub last year and it was used only twice.  She wanted it gone/out immediately!!  I think because she knew it was too expensive, she felt she wasted that money and seeing it reminded her of her mistake.  There was no reason to rush this but she insisted.  I had seen this same used tub on Craigslist priced from $2,000.00 to $4,000.00 and I asked she be patient to let me see if I could sell it but 3 days after it was “uninstalled” she needed it hauled off to never be seen again!  We had a flooring company come in and take measurements and were asked to go in to the store to look at samples.  After at least 4 different visits and Home Depot and other flooring stores to do her cost analysis we return back to the original flooring store.  The 2 representatives were the ones that did the measurements and talked to us each visit to the store.  My mom was indecisive and couldn’t make up her mind and each visit would ask the same questions, asked for prices etc.  On this visit she knew she was running out of time, she asks her routine questions and picks out entirely different samples than she had on previous visits.  I put in my two cents as we go because she’s forgetting that we need something that will be practical for a wheelchair and walker as well as other things but she shooshes me!  She is frustrated with this process and tells me, in front of the salesmen “Hush Denise, this isn’t YOUR house”.  OHHHH, mistake, big mistake!! Now she’s pissed me off, hurt my feelings she’s at risk of loosing internet access. These poor guys were probably hoping if she didn’t make a decision today maybe they’d be lucky and she wouldn’t come back.  Eventually she makes the final choice of what she likes, carpet for the bedroom and closet and linoleum for the bathroom (I didn’t even know they still made the stuff).  When she asks them to price these items out (as they had previously priced out her various other selections) the rep said “we can do the entire job for $1,000.00 plus tax.  These guys wanted to make it simple for her, rather than $ for carpet, $ for linoleum, carpet repair etc. they just gave her the grand total.  She looks at me and says “I think that’s a great price, what do you think Denise?”, I say “I think it’s great but it doesn’t matter because it’s not MY house”.  The price included the old flooring removed and hauled off, the new installed and a few areas of carpet repaired due to the widening of the doorways.  She agrees to the price and is very happy until…

We are home and it’s late afternoon, she reviews her receipt and says “They overcharged me $100.00″

Me “What?”

Mom “the receipt they are charging me $100.00 for repairing the carpet”

Me “That’s not right, they should have that included in the $1000.00, the receipt should be $1,000.00 plus tax”
Mom “It is but it’s $100.00 too much”
Me “What, how much is the bill?”
Mom “$1,000.00 plus tax”
Me “That’s right then”
Mom “No, they overcharged me $100.00″
Me “Let me see the receipt”
Mom “No, I know what I’m talking about”
I think to myself ‘sure you do’
Me “ok”
Mom “I’m not going to pay the $100.00″
Me “ok, just pay them what you agreed to; $1,000.00 plus tax”
Mom “NO, you don’t get it, they are charging me $100.00 for carpet repair that I didn’t agree to”
Me “They told you they would do everything INCLUDING the carpet repair for $1,000.00 so they broke down the cost of carpet, linoleum and the work for the repair. Doesn’t matter if the receipt said the repair was $900.00 and the carpet/linoleum was $100.00. Bottom line you are being charged $1,000.00 which you agreed to and you were happy with that!!
Mom “They should have told me they were charging me $100.00 because I would have told them not to repair the carpet, that’s a rip off.”
Me “I can call them tomorrow and tell them you don’t want them to repair the carpet”
Mom “yes, you do that”
Me “so you want gaping holes in areas of the old carpet where the doorways were widened, the areas that you are keeping the old carpet?”
Mom “I don’t want to pay $100.00 for it”
Me “ok, I’ll have them reduce the bill by $100.00 and tell them not to do the carpet repair, tomorrow when they open”
Mom “I don’t think I even want them to do the work now that I know they are cheaters”
Me ‘please God, NO, I can’t do this again’
Me “well, let me know tomorrow what you decide”
This truly was over a 2 hour conversation. If you really want to get the full picture just read the above over and over AND over because the same shit was said until I just gave up for the evening. The next day she said “Denise, you need to call them and tell them they can still do the job and still do the carpet repair but tell them I’m not happy about it”
Me “yes, mom, I will”
I didn’t :)

Her Tablet

My mom loves her tablet, she picks it up at least once an hour, checks her emails, shops, does research, visits the online newspaper from her hometown in England to see who died that she may have known. She can Google Earth and look at her old neighborhood (several times a day), funny how it hasn’t changed from last month!  If she hasn’t received a reply from an email sent within the hour she says things like “I wonder if they got it, maybe it didn’t go, I hit the send button, I didn’t get an email saying it wasn’t delivered, maybe it’s because my brother’s son get’s his email on his phone maybe his phone is off, who would get emails on their phone that’s just stupid, how do they read it on the little phone…” and I wonder to myself why I have a headache or my jaws hurt from my teeth clenching while listening to this. You get the point, she enjoys her tablet. She made the decision to move the computer from their bedroom, she almost had a panic attack waiting to see if I was able to set it up in another room along with the modem, she needed to know she could still have internet service for her tablet.

There’s been more than a few times here that my mom has upset me, she is under a lot of stress and frequently she lashes out at me. I completely understand, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt my feelings or make me mad sometimes. On a few occasions when I feel she’s crossed the line I hold back and bite my tongue. I also go to the modem and turn it off! I wait, it’s not long until I see her reach for her tablet, I smile inside. All of my anger and hurt feelings are gone and I’m filled with anticipation, like the butterflies you get when you are thinking about your upcoming vacation. She starts pushing buttons, turns it off and on again, sighs. I wait a bit and enjoy every moment until I say “everything ok?”
Mom “I don’t have internet again”
Me “you want me to try to fix it”
Depending on how much residual guilt she may feel from whatever action she took that MADE me do this determines if she tries a little longer on her own before saying “yes, would you mind?” she says it SO nice because she desperately wants it working!!
Me “sure, let me take a look”
I take it. pretend to push buttons, sigh myself, mumble to myself as if I’m trying to figure it out and then I excuse myself to get a drink of water or go to the bathroom but instead run and turn the modem back on.
I return to her with working tablet in hand and I am now a superstar and she is really nice to me.

First Shopping Trip

After arriving at my parent’s and completely unsure how long I will be here my mother has to do some grocery shopping.  My mom is very, very cheap.  It’s fine because she has the time, she has the time to stand in front of the canned green beans and spend 10 minutes determining which can is the better bargain (cheapest), she also has the patience for it, I do not.  On the drive to the store she explains that I need to get anything I want.  She said “Denise, you are going to be living here and the least I can do is buy anything you want to have at the house so at the store please get whatever you want”.

Me “you know I’m not picky so don’t worry”

Mom “I know but I want you to have things at the house that you like”

Me “ok, cool, thanks”

Mom “we should get some lunchmeat so we can make sandwiches when I don’t feel like cooking”

Me “ok, but you know I’m more than happy to cook”

Mom “that’s ok, you don’t have to cook”

While we are in the deli department looking for lunchmeat she asks what I like

Me “Salami, I love salami sandwiches”

Mom “uhm, no, I don’t like salami”

Me “ok, I like pastrami”

Mom “No, I don’t like pastrami”

Me “ok, what lunchmeat do YOU like?”

Mom “I like turkey and ham”

Me “hey mom, how about we get some turkey and ham FOR YOU!  I’ll eat that when there’s no salami or pastrami”

Mom “Well if you really want salami or pastrami that’s fine, I guess we can get some even tho it’s kind of pricey”

Me “no, turkey and ham are fine”

She also mentioned earlier she was going to splurge on good mayonnaise, yes, really she said “splurge” on mayonnaise.  Now I LOVE mayonnaise, it has to be Best Foods or Vegenaise.  I can eat a spoonful of the stuff, when I put it on a sandwich it has to be on both pieces of bread and has to ooze out when you bite in to the sandwich, that’s how much I love it!  So to know she was going to splurge on the most important condiment known to me was pretty exciting however when she reviewed the price tag of $3.89 she said “nevermind, I have enough of the generic brand at home”.  I almost cried.

Please don’t misunderstand, my parents are not poor and my mom’s shopping habits are probably the reason they aren’t.  She just has her priorities and they don’t have to make sense to me.  A week after my mayonnaise disappointing shopping trip we went to Costco where she purchased – filet mignon, crab legs, lobster tails, scallops and salmon.  Still no good mayonnaise.

“Sneak Drinking” at 51

I enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail or two just about every evening. I’m not a good day drinker even after years of trying it always leads to a nap but pure enjoyment in the evening. Here at my parent’s, my drink is one of the few things, if not the only think for “me”. After my first week here my mother says “Denise, do you think you have a drinking problem?”
Me – “Nope, not a problem unless I don’t drink”
Every night as I would get a little excited about my wine, a Moscow Mule or martini I would get the evil eye, the sigh and then the eye rolling when fixing my drink. It just ruined it, I couldn’t enjoy it and it pissed me off. So my problem is solved by keeping my drink of choice under my bed. Guilt drinking was not fun, sneak drinking is, even if I’m 51.