Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Meet the Parents

Mom and Dad waiting for Lando to bring the car around
The week of my Birthday I brought Lando into the frigid North East to Vermont to meet my family. Our relationship has  been a year-quite a landmark for me and I felt that they should know  he will be around for a while. We arrived late Tuesday night and Mom had pizza ready. She has downsized to an apartment, but to say that she downsized isn't really quite right. She moved into a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment for a mere $800 a month. It feels to me very much like the square footage of the house she left. The same set up here, ( the San Francisco bay area) would easily command a $2500 a month rent. Maybe even in Emeryville it might get that price!

As I knew Orlando would, he charmed my Mom and my Dad. My parents have been divorced for over 26 years but remain somewhat amicable. Prolonged exposure to both of them in the same room can be a bit irritating -especially if you are their off spring. I find visiting them separately may be the way to go in the future. They both have very good reasons for being annoyed with one another and ...it's amazing that the passion to squabble with each other is still alive and well...Makes one wonder because it's not like either of them re-married or anything. He's 82 and she is 78. Did I mention that I am 46 and Lando is 41? Hmmm

That Wednesday was a bit too exciting. After an exhausting afternoon at the Vermont Farm Show, Lando and I awoke from a short nap and felt had to buy a bit of legitimate booze. When I go home to Vermont to see my family, there is lots and lots of sitting around in small rooms in 200 year old  houses and chatting. Alcohol -particularly hard grain spirits- ease the sedentary feel of cabin fever. Don't quote me, but I believe alcoholism is rather high during the winter months in Vermont. Much to my distress, my mother doesn't really drink Vodka, Rum or Bourbon. My mother's choice of poison is a sickly sweet white wine called Rhine Wine. It's an American rip off of Riesling  and Gewurztraminer without the  fizz and soft round honey pear tones. It's produced by some forgettable, but financially successful winery. My father's taste in wine is also dubious. Dad can consume an improperly corked Cab or Merlot that is borderline vinegar and approximately 3 months from being opened. I know this because I poured it for him and he drank it. This sent Lando and I  sneaking downtown to the liquor store which was good thing because we had virtually NO exercise and didn't want all the warm clothing we had packed to go to waste. We left my dozing parents on their respective couches. It was cold -perhaps twenty something degrees-and we set off so I could find a suitable Vodka and he could find some Bacardi O (Orange flavored rum). When we returned from our winter trek we noticed that the front door to the apartment building was open at my Mom's place. That was odd considering the temperature. In addition to the front door we saw that the same neighbor's door to the right of my Mother's apartment was open. There were two wee children leaning in near the hallway in the front trying to see what was going on in a nearby room and they were apparently sharply sent back to watch the TV in the adjacent room from the way they both scurried back to the couch.

I went in to see if Mom was still dozing on the couch where we had left her. She wasn't there. My father was still in the living room awaking from his afternoon slumber. I asked Dad where she was as he tried to rouse himself from his nap. He said someone had come in and asked Mom to call 911 because the person was unable to. I stared at Dad for a second astonished about his lack curiosity about the emergency. Apparently he had heard all this and chose to go back to his nap!  I went to look for my mother and I figured next door was a good bet.

A four year old girl -(Mylie for our purposes) put her little hands on her little hips and asked with as much self importance as she could muster, if I was the emergency person they had called for her Grandma. I asked where her Grandma was, and she pointed in the room they had both been peering in earlier before being shooed away. I found a fifty something woman cradling the head of an elderly woman lying on the floor. The elderly lady was shaking and foam sputtering from her mouth. I quickly surmised that the older woman was having a seizure of some sort. I asked the other woman holding her if an ambulance had been called. She nodded yes and looked up agonized at me. She murmured to the woman she was holding something like "take it easy Mom" I said almost in a question, "I'll watch the kids?" She nodded again emphatically and with a flash of gratitude.

I went back to the kids to let them know I would be right back to read them a story in a bit, but that I wanted to make sure that the ambulance was coming to get Grandma. I was pleased to know that my cell figured out that I needed a VERMONT 911 instead of a California Bay Area 911. After confirming there was an emergency on South Main Street in Northfield , the operator told me she was on the phone with someone at the scene.  It had to be Mom since the other woman was obviously occupied with the emergency in question. It turned out she was in a separate room to the left and I didn't see her. I ran back to the kids and tried to keep them occupied. When I had introduced myself, Mylie was very amused by my name and her two year old brother (Conner for our purposes) laughed just as heartily. They were quite possibly two of the cutest little kids I have ever seen.  The flashing lights and siren of the ambulance disturbed Connor, and he reached his chubby little arms up to me to be held. I panicked for a second because holding a distressed child in my arms is something that almost never happens. I scooped him up and whatever parental instinct I had flooded my senses. In order to calm him, I carefully explained why the lights flashed on the ambulance and the siren was so loud. He seemed to nod in comprehension when I used a metaphor about how loud he could yell if he fell and hurt himself-so in a sense -he was kinda his ownambulance but Grandma needed something louder and flashier. I was relieved when his whimpering seemed to stop.  I was lucky to have a silly book to act out and distract the both of them with  while the EM techs did their thing in the adjacent room. 

 After the EM techs had left I found out that Mylie's and Connor's Grandma was actually the woman holding the elderly woman and the elderly woman headed to the hospital was Great Grandma. My mother -having been an elementary art school teacher and the mother of four boys- had developed a playful neighborly relationship with Connor. It involved a pointing game which concluded with Connor dissolving into gales of giggles. Mylie jutted her 4 year old chin out and leaned over to me, like a dissaproving gossipy neighbor, to let me know that my mother and Connor ALWAYS played this game. I suppressed a smile and tried to nod in disgust right along with her. Eventually the real Grandma came out of the room and said, " Well that's one less mouth to feed tonight." If you were raised in New England you'd understand that kind of gallow's humor. I can assure you that it hasn't served me well here in sunny vapid California. I introduced myself to her and she seemed taken aback. "You were in Bobby's (her brother) class?" It took me a while to remember who "Bobby" was. Then it hit me as I recalled her last name. "Oh yes! Bobby and I were in the same class-that's right." She leaned over and stared at my face incredulously. "You and Bobby are the same age?" I gently stretched the skin on my cheekbone and simply said, "California." -as if that explained everything. I don't know if my Mom caught on that I had implied that I had work done on my face but Grandma got it. I don't know why I did that. Maybe to just get her mind off what she had gone through-who knows? I think I did it to make fun of California, because I have never had a face lift....No really -I've never had one.....yet.  She shook her head and said, "Well you sure don't look it!" Her own face had reflected a long difficult life. She looked like she had her share of hardships and my heart cracked a little as I thought she may end up having to grieve for her mother later. Connor squirmed in my lap and leaped off. Mylie asked me to read more. I informed her that I had to go and help my mother with dinner. She asked me who my mother was and I pointed at the lady that was Mrs. Cooley to her. Well THAT little bit of her news threw her for a loop! I guess to Mylie I seemed as old as Mrs. Cooley.

I made sure to hug my Mother more those few days then was probably expected by her . -but good news -Great Grandma from next door was back home from the hospital without a serious diagnosis.

No comments:

Post a Comment