Mom and I are going to see Dr. Scovill today – He’s the cardiologist, been around for several years and we’ve loved him through bypass, stents, and check-ups. When Mom and Dad still lived on the farm in Smith County, they would come to our house one afternoon about three to spend the night before her appointment. We’d have a nice dinner together, the two of them retiring early to the big bedroom with the king-sized bed. If Mom forgot her earplugs, she knew Dave would have some extras. At home, Mom would tuck Dad in across the hall in his own bedroom. We provided a similar sleeping arrangement but one time Dad got sick in the night and Mom didn’t hear him, so she finished the tenure on Beech Tree Lane one one side of the big bed avoiding Dad’s snoring.
She and I would keep the appointment the next day while Dave babysat Grandpa while Grandpa read whatever new book I’d summoned up to keep him occupied. That was when Dave still called him Grandpa. Now that we live next door to each other, Dave calls him Ernie.
After an hour or two at St. Thomas, depending on whether it was ultra-sound day or not, we’d leave for lunch just down West End toward town at PF Chang, Mom’s favorite. She’d order something with chicken and I’d have my usual eggplant with ground chicken. We’d laugh about how we were always later to the appointment than we had intended because we never knew which door to go in and we’d assure each other that Dave and Grandpa were just fine and didn’t want to come to lunch with us, anyway – “That’s what he said.” Now that we live next door to each other, we don’t go to lunch after; we don’t even get lost any more.
Dad mowed and trimmed our three-quarter acres yesterday. I suppose it’s “three-quarters of an acre minus the two houses.” He brought the John Deere from the farm when they moved here in November. Good thing, because Dave is still mowing over at the other house that has yet to sell and there’s no way either Dad or Dave could walk this property the once-a-week it takes to keep it under control. Dad misses spots; the white clover heads pop up with defiance. His trimming is erratic.
“Mom, we have to get Dad to stop chewing up the bushes and vines on the ravine,” I told her at breakfast Wednesday. When I have “something to talk to Mom and Dad about,” I pop over in the morning. Now, sometimes I just go. For some reason, I can’t keep a half-gallon of skim milk without half of it spoiling while Mom buys by the gallon and never loses any of it. Do you think maybe a gallon just keeps longer than a half-gallon, I asked. Maybe so, she answered, And you know I always have milk so you can always get some here.
“What’d that old fool do now?” she laughed.
I stopped in the middle of my granola. “He’s waving the Weedeater way up in the air trying to trim the vines – He’s gonna hurt himself that way. And then he tries to trim the bushes with it – you know, the wild bushes – and now they look like a goat has been chewing on them. He needs to leave them alone.”
“Oh, I know. He gets strung out with that Weedeater. I’ve told him before – but I’ll talk to him.”
I’ve learned to talk behind Daddy’s back. For a few months, I plotted and planned any conversation that could be considered negative, or criticism, and I never felt good about any of them. That’s because Dad is so sensitive that he needs some sort of “filter” for my talk. I finally realized that Mom has been “filtering” for Dad for 65 years. I’m only 60… So now I tell Mom and she tells Dad and he asks me and … actually, he just continues to do things the way he wants. If it’s that important to me, I try maybe three times. I have a few successes I could note…
Daddy is so much less sensitive if Mom tells him something like “Put the damn Weedeater down.”
Last night I dreamed that Mom died. Dr. Scovill helped her die – at her request. The next morning, she appeared in my bedroom. She was young and thin with a pixie cut of thick, dark auburn hair. She was wiggling into a pair of my pantihose.
“Mom, what are you doing?” My only surprise was the pantihose. She always hated pantihose.
“Oh, just getting dressed for the day.”
“Did you know you’re in my bedroom?”
“Oh, yes, I am, aren’t I? – Okay, I’ll just go next door and see Daddy. Come on over – I just bought a gallon of milk.”