Friday, March 3, 2017
Parents are Funny People
Parents are funny people. I laugh at my mother all the time, not always when she's actually intending to be funny.
Listening to myself speak recently on a recording of an interview with my client's daughter, I realize how often I pause when I speak, likely because I'm always searching for the perfect words. My mother does not pause often and sometimes speaks before she has the perfect words or changes her mind midstream in her speech, resulting in some funny expressions sometimes.
There are her strangely reworked cliche expressions like, "Kill two chickens with one hatchet." Well, "killing two birds with one stone" is fairly violent, but this version is much, uh, gorier. Can you tell she grew up on a farm in rural Nebraska?
Another time, she was angry at my father and declared that he was a "disaster on wheels!" This might have made a little bit of sense if my father had been driving at the time. He wasn't. I'm not exactly sure what she had in mind. Maybe she had conjured up some mental image of the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil scooting through on a skateboard. Maybe disaster is that much more destructive when it's on wheels. I couldn't seem to help myself but to laugh at her expression at that time.
Thankfully, my laughter was contagious. Dad notices me laughing, and his lips curl up one side. Then he is laughing softly before getting a little bolder and laughing with more energy. Pretty soon, Mom has joined us, forgetting to be in a bad mood. It was a pretty wonderful moment.
Lately, Mom seems to be mishearing me when I speak and coming up with some pretty colorful and sometimes illogical conclusions as to what I said. In a recent funny moment, I was trying to share some news with her about our family friend named Travis Skinner. Mom was upstairs in another room as I'm trying to convey this message. She walks downstairs, saying, "What, cabbage dinner?" It sounds like some sort of contrived sitcom dialogue, but this is actually what happened, and, no, apart from St. Patrick's Day once a year, we don't often have a "cabbage dinner."
There were some other misheard words recently, and this one also involves food ... actual food. Mom tells me that she and Dad would like to go out to lunch, adding that I was probably not hungry yet since I'd had breakfast late. I said, "Oh, I might be hungry. All I had was some leftover French bread." My breakfast that day consisted of the end bit of a French baguette that had been fresh and wonderful the previous day and now required a bit of sawing with a serrated knife.
"What?" Mom says. "Crunch bread?"
"Well," I answered honestly. "It might have been crunch bread."
Maybe, she is losing some hearing, I'm not sure, but I'm assured that she doesn't have Alzheimer's. It really is a terrible disease, and I have an uncle affected by it right now. One day, Mom and Dad were in line at our local pharmacy and were looking over some brochures at the counter about various health conditions. Mom had picked up one on Alzheimer's and announced happily -- and rather loudly -- "I don't have Alzheimer's! I know how to use the microwave!" Nearby shoppers turn to look. The brochure apparently advised that forgetting how to use appliances like the microwave was a sign of Alzheimer's.
I'm not sure we'll be able to tell if Dad -- God forbid! -- gets Alzheimer's, as he's always had one of those quirky absent-minded scientist sort of personalities, even when he was young and long before I entered the picture. Mom tells this story from when they were first married, before any of the kids were born, and still living in a one-room apartment. Apparently, one morning, Dad stared into the refrigerator for a considerable length of time before announcing,"Where in the world are my socks?"