Tag Archives: my mother

A Fate Worse Than Death

21 Apr

I am becoming my mother.

There. I said it out loud. I am becoming my mother.  Every year, my Lenten discipline is to try to be less judgmental, but I’m not only not making any progress, but I’m steadily losing ground.

We all have things that drive us nuts, but most people can bite their tongue and keep on going. Not I. Our parish is buying about twenty new prayer books – at $15 a pop – to replace those with pages that are falling out. Several years ago, one of our morning groups – the purpose changes, but the membership seems to remain steady – made bookmarks for every hymnal and prayer book in the racks. They are probably more important for the prayer books, as you must flip back and forth between the service, the psalm, the collect, and the Prayers of the People. Three of these change every week, and there are four ribbons, so you can find your place again quickly. Half of the time, people jam the open book into the rack, just about guaranteeing that the pages will fall out.  When I’m ushering with The Squire I will reach into the pew, close the offending books and put them on the seat. Shape up, folks!

We used to have one member who always pulled the bookmarks and tossed them aside. When I asked him why he did it, he replied they were never in the right place. “Herb, do you honestly think we have a team of pixies that come in every Saturday to mark the books?”

During Lent we have soup suppers every Wednesday night, with two kinds of soup, great chunks of Italian bread, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dessert. Every blessed week, there are about twice as many PBJ sandwiches as needed, and they get tossed in the trash. I dig them out and throw them into the yard for the wild life, but it is still a monumental waste of food. How about fixing only half as much?

This morning – Easter Sunday, mind you! – Mac was wearing a huge fuzzy top hat, complete with white ears. While the rest of us were waiting in silence for the service to start, he pushed some button, and the ears began to waggle back and forth in time to “Here Comes Peter Cottontail”. In church. I gave him my best Audrey Parker glare and he turned it off. That or the death rays broke to fool thing!

I’ve turned into my mother! Pray for me!

Food Fight

10 Jul

A friend gave me three huge yellow squash on Friday morning. “My husband and I will never eat all that. There’s only the two of us.” Well, there are only two of us, too. The squash were so large they oozed some sort of gluey juice when I cut them up to fry this morning.

And there, suddenly standing at my elbow, was my mum!

Mum and her dad had a good-sized garden on his farm. Luscious tomatoes, corn, string beans, and strawberries by the pound.

But mostly they grew squash. All kinds of squash. Patty pan, yellow crook-necks, zucchini, acorn squash. Squash grows fast and gets BIG. Being German, Mum insisted on always doing things the hard way. Potatoes were peeled standing up. So was that mountain of squash on the kitchen table. My sister and I peeled and peeled and peeled aaannnddd peeled. Because of the “glue” over sized squash exude our peelers would get clogged. Fortunately I’m left-handed and Lynn was right-handed so we would trade peelers from time to time. Nothing helped our stiff fingers or sore feet. Every once in a while we’d trot off to the bathroom to wash our hands – and sit down for awhile. I think Mum caught on, because she’d start to tell us to wash up at the sink!

If there was one food in all the world my sister loathed it was squash seeds. She’d try to cut some of them out of the center of the squash and bury them under the peelings, but once Mum caught on to that trick she’d sift through the compost and return them to the pot.

To make cooked squash more palatable (strictly a matter of her opinion) she would mix it with mashed potatoes, which was Lynn’s favorite food. The potatoes were very “loose” because of the liquid in the squash, and stringy, to boot. No point in pushing the seeds to the side of the plate, because they had to be eaten before the table was cleared. Even the fact that my sister threw up all over the table one night didn’t make any difference.

Mum was not only stubborn, she was cruel.

Hoarder, Thy Name is Audrey

17 May

The Squire and I are once again playing “Let’s Pretend We’re Moving”, and decided to have one more go at the barn.  When my folks moved back to Baltimore from Roxboro, they purchased an 8 x 10 Amish shed, and loaded a moving van full of stuff into it. (Well, maybe not really that much, but it certainly seemed that way.) We eventually moved everything into the barn and donated the shed to church.

The Squire loaded about a dozen cartons of various sorts and conditions into the cart and hauled them down onto the patio. You would not believe the stuff my mum saved! I must admit I have held onto every card I have ever gotten from The Squire, and I generally save this year’s Christmas cards to address next season’s, but I do throw them out eventually. Not my mum. We found two large boxes full of cards dating back to their first home.  It wouldn’t surprise me; when my dad died in 1999 my mum moved into a retirement center and my sister and I helped her clear some of the debris. (Read, we spent our time taking turns distracting her while the other one crept out with a pile of paper.) We each brought home my parents’ income tax papers from the years we were born – 1942 and 1947 – and gave each of our children a Woman’s Day magazine from the month they were born.

My dad was a clergyman, for Heaven’s sake! Do you know how often they move? My mother could squeeze a nickel until the buffalo shit and the Indian had a headache, but she spent good money to lug paper all over the country. Yeesh!

Boxes and boxes of books, many so abused by the mice that they had to be tossed, and a pair of ceramic figurines Nana had made back in the 50s. They were carefully wrapped in what had once been a fine wool blanket, now so moth-eaten I’ll be lucky to get two pieces large enough to give to the Humane Society.  Some of the theology books will go to Operation Pass Along for other clergy, and I’ll see if I can donate the rest. It goes against the grain to dispose of printed material. Hmm. Wonder where I got that?

When The Squire moved the tractor, he found a handful of dog food under the seat.  He also found peanut shells in his boots. It’s a long way from our house to the barn.  Industrious little buggers.

The most surprising find of the day was a small garter snake, curled up in one of the boxes. Hard to tell which of us was the most startled.

At least it was only one.





Grave Problems

8 Mar

As some of you may know, my mum ended up being buried in another person’s grave. Well, the day of reckoning has arrived; Doris died Sunday and she’s going to want her spot back.

My mother was easily one of the oddest people on earth. We won’t go into all of that, but it probably tells you a good bit that she didn’t want a tombstone on her husband’s grave.   When my sister and I kicked up a mini-fuss over him being buried in an unmarked grave like a common pauper, she simply shrugged and replied, “God will know where to find him.” He was a veteran, so the marker would be free, and even though I knew there wasn’t a shot in this world that she’d ever visit his grave, I simply never got around to doing it.  As a result, when she died, all the person who marked the spot knew was “Fr. Parker was buried next to the Traftons.” Well, he was. On the right side as you face the line; my mum got planted on the left side. (I personally believe he had a hand in it, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Oddly enough, I had just spoken the to Cemetery Warden at the church on Thursday or Friday, explaining how the mix-up had occurred. I told him I had spoken to the state and they didn’t have any problems with my mum being moved. We met at the church today to look over the lay of the land, and there is a possibility that my mum may have been planted in the next spot over; when Mr. Trafton died, his wife had a concrete slab poured at the same time to hold her marker when it was needed. With that slab in place, it’s quite possible the grave digger skipped over that spot and buried my mum in the next available place.

I swear, the woman is as much trouble dead as she ever was when she was alive.


New Glasses – Or, A Fast $400

23 Apr

After last month’s little episode with the multiple traffic lights, I decided to get a new pair of glasses.

I’ve needed some sort of vision correction since I was in school. Most of the time I wear my contacts, but I have always had a pair of prescription sunglasses for backup. Last summer, the screw started to loosen at one temple, and the left lens would fall out.  I’d put it back into place and tighten the screw, and off we’d go. Until the lens landed in the drive way, and I couldn’t find it. I stepped back to see if it had landed under the car. And found it.

Under my foot.

Yesterday I went for an eye exam, and then had to select new frames. (Didn’t have the wits to bring the old ones with me.) The cheapest frames I could find were $139.00. I just about had a fit. And the lenses – which are NOT bifocals! – were $268.00! Fortunately, Medicare will cover the exam itself.

When I was in high school, my mother took me to get new glasses, and handed the optician my old frames. He looked at them, and then measured my face, and told my mom I needed new frames. She pitched a fit – a variation on the “don’t waste my money on X-rays” theme. The man showed her that the frames were already too small; in order to put them on, the ear pieces had to be pulled out so far that the lenses were bending inward, and this would only get worse as I grew in the next year.

My mother grabbed me by the elbow, yanked me out of the chair, and dragged me out onto Charles Street, muttering all the way to the parking lot. As she got into the car, she said, “That man must think I’m a mad woman.”

And I, like the tar baby, didn’t say a word.


Back to Bed

27 Feb

For the last seven years The Squire and I have been reading David Weber’s “Safehold” series. This saga in long and involved, and swings from oared galleys to spaceships, and back, with a World War, a robot, and two romances thrown in. The books are big (600 pages each), and complex. I had to make a list of who was on which side of the war, as I forget who is who. It is essentially a retelling of the Reformation, told from an obviously Protestant point of view. They are published at a rate of one a year, and when the library gets the newest one, there’s a waiting list, so you can’t renew it.  (The first one was Off Armageddon Reef, if you want to track it down. You do need to start at the beginning.)

The odd thing is, I dislike both science fiction (totally implausible!) and historic fiction (you have it all wrong!) but these books are “can’t put it down” stuff. The real thing.

Yesterday, The Squire had the latest book, Like a Mighty Army,  while I was off doing other things, and then when he went up to watch TV, I grabbed it.

And stayed up until 3:00 this morning to finish it!

Woke up at 8:00, said hello to The Squire and back to bed until noon.

For as long as I knew her, my mother’s attitude was “once you are up, you are up for the day”. Even when she was living alone after my dad died, no matter what time she woke up – 4 AM, whatever – she stayed up. This wasn’t too bad for my sister and me during the week, but on weekends, we all wanted to sleep in, and she was really mentally unable to allow us to do so.

Our house was built in 1952, and had only one bathroom, which was right beside my parents’ bedroom, and they slept with the door open. If my sister or I had to get up in the middle of the night, we would carefully close the bathroom door, and stuff a towel against the bottom, so she wouldn’t hear us. If we happened to wake up with a full bladder at 6 AM on a Saturday, she would wake up, and drag herself out of bed, and insist “As long as you’re up, you might as well get your sister.”  Lynn and I could hardly tolerate each other as it was, and this didn’t help matters one bit. And naps were not allowed.

So my poor father couldn’t sleep in, either, and had to deal with three grumpy, sleep-deprived women, to boot.  The man really was a saint.

Not too long before I left home, Lynn and I got an alarm clock, which we would set for 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, tip-toe downstairs, and then go back to sleep on an empty bladder, staying in bed until around 9:00.

So this morning I was able to go back to bed with a clear conscience and a deep sense of how lucky I am.