Friday, December 9, 2016

Lunch With Mom


I bundled Mark up yesterday, making sure he had his scarf on, his gloves on along with his hat, and we went out to Tinley Park to visit Mom. Yes, it is fucking cold here in Chicago. Yes, the wind cuts through me like a knife and the icy grip of winter is trying its best to do me in. I will not have it. No, I have made up my mind that warm breezes and sunny skies are no substitute for family and friends. So here I am, along with Mark screaming and kicking, in the cold Chicago winter. I don't care. I get to visit my mom once a week, something I have missed for very many years. Not just Mom, but other family members and my old friends. Being near them is so much more fulfilling than walking my dogs around the block in shorts and a tee shirt. I don't miss Florida at all...  Okay, maybe the shorts and tee shirts in December a little bit.

We get to Mom's house just after noon. I have brought Mom her favorite food. Ribs from Mickey's on Oak Park Avenue. Mom is stretched out on the sofa with her eyes closed, the television blasting and the thermostat turned up to eighty two degrees.
"Ma!" No response. At ninety four years old, nearly ninety five, I get a wee bit nervous.
"Ma, hello, Ma, are you awake?" Her eyes remain closed. Oh fuck. I do not want to be the one here when... Just then her eyes flutter open. Thank god.
"Oh, Alan...  I was resting my eyes."
"Hi Mom. I have lunch for you. Ribs and French fries from Mickey's."
"Oh, okay... "
Mom drags herself up from the couch and plops herself into the Hoveround. Without any notice she zooms away and down the hall towards her bedroom. Fine, I figure she's going to the bathroom before lunch, or maybe putting on some makeup. Mom hates to look bad for visitors. Meanwhile Mark and I sit at the kitchen table and eat our ribs while waiting for Mom. I've learned not to hold up our lunch when Mom zips off like that. After about twenty minutes I go back to Mom's bedroom looking for her and call in there, "Ma, everything okay?"
"Waa.. I..  I'm...  "
"Are you okay? Do you need some help?" I say, dreading that she might say yes and I might have to go into the bathroom and see my mother 'indisposed'.
"I'm... (undecipherable) ..  I'll be out in a few minutes."
So I go back to the kitchen and finish my lunch along with Mark. Another ten minutes go by.
"Alan, maybe you should go check on your mom again."
So once again I go down the long hall, back to my mom's bedroom and shout out to her, "Everything okay in there?" This time I step into the room a little bit so that I can hear her better. Mom is in her bathroom, the lights are on and her Hoveround is halfway in the doorway.
"I... yes... "
"Are you sure? Do you need any help?"
"No... I'll be out in a minute. I have to straighten up the bathroom before Maria gets here."
So Mom was in the bathroom cleaning it. She didn't need any help from me. She was taking care of business, cleaning up before Maria arrived. Maria... Mom's cleaning lady... Maria.

Just in case you don't know what a Hoveround is.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Oops, I Did It Again.



I have a history of stepping off into space and landing on my ass. I underestimate how many stairs there may be, I pay no attention to where the sidewalk ends, and I never seem to see that gaping hole I'm about to step in. The result of all those falls is that I have developed a very good sense of how to fall. There is no thrusting my hand out in front of myself, trying to break the fall. If you do try, the only thing you'll break is a bone. Now yes, I do get scraped up, but not that badly. Most importantly, I don't turn my ankles so much anymore. The minute I feel that terra firma giving way, I go with the flow, I tuck and roll.

Yesterday opened up as a beautiful clear day, so Scout and I went out for one last walk before the blast of super cold air moved in. Two blocks down and two blocks back around. Across cracked pavement, wet patches, and curbs. I moved along not missing a step. Until we came to our own front sidewalk, a sidewalk in perfect shape. Not a crack, not a flaw in it, yet I managed to step off the edge. Immediately my tuck and roll brain kicked in. As Scout tugged on the leash I grabbed tightly onto it and rolled right off the sidewalk and into the mushy, wet lawn. By the time the lady across the street came running up, asking if I was okay, I had rolled my fat ass back up onto the sidewalk and was already dragging myself up on my feet. Yeah, I'm really good at falling down.
The extent of my injuries.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Apply Directly to Your Forehead



Remember ten years ago when that new product burst into your consciousness because of an ad campaign that went like this.
"HeadOn. Apply directly to the forehead."
"HeadOn. Apply directly to the forehead."
"HeadOn. Apply directly to the forehead."
You couldn't get away from it. It was played over and over again all day long on cable television and during broadcast daytime television. That stupid tag line repeated three times, convinced a lot of people that you could cure a headache by rubbing a wax stick on your forehead. Yes, that is what the main ingredient of Headon was, wax. It did have some other ingredients. In extremely tiny amounts that were almost undetectable, were some plant materials. You would think that people would figure out that you cannot cure a headache by rubbing wax on your forehead. Even if there was an active ingredient that could cure a headache, that could be absorbed into the skin on your forehead, there was no way it was going to pass on through your skull and into your brain. But millions of people bought that shit. If it was that easy to get things into your brain I'd have rubbed all my school books across my forehead. Now ten years later you never hear of Headon. It's not even available at Walmart where the most gullible of people shop. That's because after watching the flashy ads, and believing the promise of pain relief, folks found out that they'd been had. They went out and bought Headon and rubbed that stuff on their head as they were told, and nothing. Unless the person is very suggestible, they got no pain relief from the product, and Headon withered on the vine because there were no repeat purchases. So remember, when you see that flashy ad on television and the huckster is telling you that what he's selling will cure your ills, don't buy it. And if you have already bought what he was selling, don't be fooled twice and buy it again. Because there is no magic shortcut for curing your ills.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Really.... Tell Me More



I know that my mom has her snarky side. It's usually pretty subtle, like when she was eating some pork that Mark had made and she didn't like it. She didn't come right out and say it was bad, instead she looked at me, made a face, and announced, "I'm still chewing." When Mark brought Mom some chicken and dumplings, she gobbled up the chicken and vegetables like they were oxygen. I asked her why she wasn't eating the dumplings and she said, "Oh, those are for poor people." Her quiet digs and pointed remarks aren't just about food. She will let people know in her own sweet and polite way that she is not pleased, but she does try to not insult anybody to their face. So I was quite amused when Mark informed me that he has become Mom's confidant. It seems that every time I leave the room, Mom whispers to Mark some unspeakable thing that she has noticed about me, my sisters, or my brothers. Usually what she has confided to him is kind of funny, if not hilarious. I have let Mark know that he is under no circumstances to ever reveal what Mom has told him, to never repeat her funny little asides until after she is gone. Mom's dad lived to be just a few short weeks from one hundred and two years old, so girls you're just going to have to wait.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

I Shall Have no Pie



When I was a kid my mom used to attach my mittens to my coat with those little alligator clips so that I wouldn't lose them. Of course I still would lose a mitten now and again because I would play with those snapping clips instead of using them to keep my mittens in place.

One thing I did when moving to Chicago was spare no expense when it came to my winter clothing. I intend to stay warm, and to hell with fashion and looking cool. So I have a big coat that Mark bought me, possibly from the women's department. It zippers on the wrong side. I have sweat shirts and hats, including one hat that my friend Dennis found to be quite funny. I don't care if I look like an albino Rastafarian, the hat is warm and I like it. I also popped for some warm gloves. They were not cheap, but they were highly rated for warmth. I hope they are, but they have not been truly tested yet. It hasn't dropped to Siberian like temperatures yet. I have been using them none the less when walking the dogs. That is until yesterday morning. That's when I reached up to the shelf in the hall closet and pulled down my Rasta hat and my gloves, except that only one glove was there. I looked on the floor, I searched inside the closet, and I looked all over the house. No glove. I immediately broke into one of my filthy rants, "Goddamnsonofabitchshitfuckshitfuckfuckityfuckfuckfuck." Yes, that is all one word. I took the dogs out, twice around the block, looking down the whole time for my missing glove. I was especially thorough when I got to Chandler's favorite pooping place. I definitely remembered taking my gloves off so that I could pick up his poo. No glove. Finally, resigned to the fact that I would have to buy a new pair, I put my coat away in the closet along with my hat and the one glove I still had.
I still think that glove is in the closet somewhere.