... it reminds me of why I left home at seventeen. Whew. I love her to death, ya know? But man, she can zap it out of me. Knock the wind right out of my sail, I'll tell ya.
Michael and I returned last night from a three-day trip to visit Daddy and Mama in their beautiful home in Ocala, Florida. It's good to remember the special things about them, which are plenty. Along with a ton of memories, precious and full of love, I feel at this time of my life spending time with my parents are moments to be cherished. Now and in the future. It's time to remember how great it was to be a kid and hone in on only the good times. Honor them, like I'm supposed to.
Aspirations that often fall short.
Dad and I have so much in common, with our talks about the old days ... sharing stories, pictures, and memories of relatives long deceased. My interest in history is shared by that of his own. I could listen to his tall tales all night long, for as a writer I draw from him. While we talk and Daddy replays his childhood memories, Mama rolls her eyes. Daddy bores her. She's heard it all before. She attempts to change the subject numerous times. She'd rather talk about my siblings, or the grandchildren, or the latest illness of one of her friends. Or her favorite TV preacher.
A generally happy woman, Mom is always glad to see me, and has prepared lots of food ... usually her killer roast with gravy and carrots and potatoes all mixed together, mmm-mmm, melts in our mouth. Salad, biscuits, pickles, relish, applesauce, is always on the table. It's a feast. And the pie, let's not forget the pie and ice cream. She shoves every bit of food she can our way, eyeing our plates, making sure we eat it all and taste everything or we hear ... "You don't like relish anymore? Try some olives, dear, your Dad loves them ... how about trying this fresh pineapple and there's melon in the fridge if you want some ... Need anything? How 'bout some coffee? What can I get ya? ..." and on and on and on.
The first evening is fine ... all talk is light ... new projects completed on their house, a new paint job on the shutters, dormers Daddy built in his shop and put on the roof all by himself, new flowers in the yard and the ones that died recently for no reason, the weather, the latest purchase at the garage sale around the corner ... what the doctor said at their last appointment ... little pieces of their lives all pieced together like a pattern for a dress you'll never wear.
I know she's suffered physically. A great deal, actually. She waddles instead of walks and then sits with her feet up a lot. Her eyes are bad, and she'd rather stay home than go anywhere. But one thing's not changed a bit. Her illness has not changed the fact that she's a tough bird. The most opinionated woman I know. Nobody can have one but her.
Somehow, we fell into a little heated discussion about politics, and she called me a damn Democrat! Now I don't consider myself a Republican OR a Democrat, I have always been open minded and vote however I feel, not according to political parties. But it nearly floored me when she said it. And she pissed me off enough that I agreed with her (to piss her off) ... "so what if I'm a Democrat, so what?" (My own faults and flaws mixed with hers is like a powder keg ... always has been.)
"I can't believe I raised a liberal!"
"Mama! I'm entitled to an opinion, but it doesn't mean I love you any less or you love me any less, right?"
She didn't hear a word I said after that. Not a word. I had to just cut off the conversation. Nip it. Stop it. It was going nowhere. There is no opinion in the world more important than hers and she's right, it doesn't matter how good your argument, or what proof you have, or what you say in your defense ... she won't hear it ... she'd die first before she would admit you might be right.
"Let it go, Mom!" I said it three times before she finally ... thank God ... changed the subject.
But there sat Daddy ... in the corner ... smiling from ear to ear ... didn't say a word ... I'm sure he was happy she was nagging somebody else for a change.
Stubborn lady, I swear. And I think, that's why she's still alive. An illness that should've killed her, couldn't. So maybe I should be thankful she's still full of piss and vinegar.
I've taken pride in believing the generation gap between me and my daughter is minimal compared to that of mine and my mama's. And it scares me to death when I hear the same words she would say come out of my mouth once in a while. So I put it in prospective, I am her daughter, nothing will change that. And I love her, despite her closed mind and sharp tongue. Nothing will change that, either. Nothing.
October 31st, Halloween, tomorrow, is their 52nd wedding anniversary. She says she didn't realize at the time that they were married on Halloween, but she did wear a black and orange checked wool suit. I love to remind her she was married on the "devil's holiday" when she starts in about me reading those devilish books, like Harry Potter. Oh well, we could have a pissing match every time we talk, I suppose. But I think, when it gets right down to it, she loves me enough to avoid our differences of opinion ... most of the time.
So ... I'll just keep the conversation light from now on. Keep the trips short, and build good memories, ones that don't hurt. So someday, in the distant future ... all I'll remember are the precious memories about spending a few days with Mama.
Blessings to you and yours.