Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Meddling Mothers and Disappointing Daughters



Welcome to the May edition of Alex J. Cavanaugh's  Insecure Writer's Support Group. As Mother's Day approaches, I thought I'd re-post a vintage game show parody that many of us can relate to. Be sure to visit Alex and his talented team of writers. Happy Mother's Day!

                                        Meddling Mothers and Disappointing Daughters

Host: It's time to play Meddling Mothers and Disappointing Daughters, the only game show where mothers and daughters try to get along to win prizes that the mothers will never be able to operate in the first place. Let's meet the contestants...(He notices that one mother is still trying to climb up into her chair)  Do you need some help Dorothy?

Dorothy: No, I'm fine thank you.

Dorothy's daughter: Just grab my hand, and let me give you a boost.

Dorothy: I said I don't need any help. STOP RUSHING ME!

Host: Okay, let's move on to Gladys and her daughter Gretchen. How many times do you call your mother a day?

Gretchen: Once. 

Host: And you Felicia?

Felicia: I call my mother once a week.

(A loud siren sounds)

Host: Where's Dorothy?

Dorothy's daughter:  She fell down and her Life Alert alarm went off.   

 (The paramedics lift Dorothy into her seat)

Dorothy's daughter: I call my mother six times a day. She hangs up on me, and says, "It's never enough."

(The bell sounds ding ding ding)

Host: You are correct. The answer is, "Never enough." You just won a case of prune juice. You must be very proud of your daughter Dorothy!

Dorothy: Did you see how nice those paramedics were? Why couldn't you have married someone like that?  

Host: All right then. Now we'll ask the mothers a question. Gladys when is the last time you said something nice to your daughter?

Gladys: Don't we get a lunch break?

Host: It's only been five minutes. We'll have snacks after the show.

Gladys: But this is when I eat lunch.

Gretchen: Here Mom, I brought you a sandwich. (takes one out of her purse)

Gladys: It's on rye bread. I like a nice roll. I can't eat this. What's wrong with you?

Fanny: I'll take it. I'm starving. (Looks at her own daughter Felicia) Why don't you ever make me lunch?

Host: Fanny, when is the last time you said something nice to your daughter?

Fanny: That's easy. As we were driving over, I told my daughter that her dress was very pretty...

Host: Well, that is nice.

Fanny: And I'm sure that if she lost ten pounds it would actually fit her.

Host: Maybe we should just throw out that question. Dorothy, when was the last time your daughter took you to the doctor?

Dorothy: You know falling down really makes a person thirsty. How come no one offered me a drink or a sandwich?

Host: If you answer the question, I'll get you both.

Dorothy: Okay, yes please.

Host: Yes please what?

Dorothy: I would like both a drink and a sandwich. Soup would be nice too, but I don't want to be a bother.

(Gladys is dashing across the stage with her walker. Her daughter is jogging behind her)

Host: Where are you going?

Gladys: I just remembered I think I forgot to turn off the stove.

Host: Can you have someone else check on it?

Gretchen: It's my stove, and I just got a text that the fire department is heading over to my house.

Gladys: Are we stopping for lunch first, 'cause I still haven't eaten?

Host: Good luck ladies. Be sure to tell us your new address, so we can send you a lifetime supply of incontinence products.

Dorothy: Continents? I can name the continents! There's Asia, Africa.....

Host: Well, that's all the time we have for today. Thanks for playing Meddling Mothers and Disappointing Daughters. (The daughters storm off stage) Aren't you forgetting something? Don't leave me alone with your mothers. Come back!!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Mom's Closet Encounter


Welcome to the April edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group . Be sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh, and the rest of the extremely talented writers who may have an insecurity or two.

                                                          Mom's Closet Encounter

In February my mom went from the hospital to rehab and back again. Fortunately, her new home is conveniently located across the parking lot from the hospital, so on a nice day she can be wheeled over for a tune-up. Through it all, my mom hasn't lost her sense of humor, or her ability to unleash my insecurities.

Here is a brief sampling of her latest adventures:

Last week my brother suggested that we arrange for a prepaid funeral for our mom in order to lock in today's rates. A women from the funeral home agreed to meet us over at the healthcare residence. My plan was that I would keep her busy in the room, while my brother and my husband spoke with the woman downstairs.

Once we arrived, my mom said she wanted to join us. I thought this was a terrible idea, and was worried that my mom would spiral into a deep depression. At the very least, the thought of spending a lot of money on something she couldn't even enjoy would give her indigestion, but only her favorite child knew that she wouldn't mind planning her own funeral.

Her first concern was about the bugs. "I don't want a wood casket, because the bugs will get in. I'll also need a good hairdresser. I don't care that I'll have a closed casket. I'll need an experienced beautician that knows how to tease hair. Oh, and it wouldn't hurt if she could do a little something with my daughter's hair too."

A few days later she had trouble hearing me on the phone. Since she has difficulty bearing weight, my brother wanted to use a transfer belt to help get her in and out of the car on a trip to the dentist.

Mom: A transfer what?
Mumbling Daughter: Belt.
Mom: I still can't make out what you're saying.
MD: A belt. B as in boy, E as in egg, L as in your name Lois, and T as in Tom. Belt.
Mom: A brft? What's a brft?
MD:  Are you playing an April Fools joke on me?
Mom: No.
MD: Ok. What do you use to hold up your pants?
Mom: Suspenders.

For the last several weeks I've been bringing my mom's clothes from her apartment to her new residence, and whatever there isn't room for I've divided into bags for donating, and bags to store at my house which now looks like Disneyland for hoarders. My mom had every closet in her apartment filled with clothes, and she generously allotted her live-in caregiver ample space to store all of her belongings on top of the refrigerator.

In addition, she had a storage locker filled with clothing that she had no intention of parting with. My mom has collected more than 37 vests throughout the years, and when I asked her which ones she'd like to keep, she replied, "All of them."

Last night my mom sounded upset when she called, so I asked her what was wrong. She told me that someone had broken into her closet. Though she has a very stylish wardrobe, I couldn't believe that anyone  would actually empty out her closet. She said, "Oh no, my closet is still completely full. I just don't recognize any of the clothes in it."

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

How I Almost Flashed The Fire Department


I originally wrote this story almost five years ago when one son was still in college and the other was in law school. Though they've grown into confident young men, I'm still as insecure as I've always been which brings us to Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. Be sure to visit this talented group of welcoming writers.

    How I Almost Flashed The Fire Department

As I eagerly awaited my boys arrival for summer break, I did a quick sweep of their bedrooms, and went to check on the condition of their bathroom. It desperately needed a mini makeover. A couple of fresh coats of paint, and a power wash for the tile, and the bathroom would be ready just in time for them to turn it into a frat house. 

The next day the painter arrived on time, and everything was going smoothly. The walls required sand blasting, because they needed to smooth down the stenciled cowboy designs I had painted in 1994. Hey, I didn't want their delicate noses to inhale dangerous paint fumes, and I also didn't want them to develop a taste for beer, before they were even double digits. Now was the perfect time for a change; while still keeping  their allergies at bay. All was calm, until the smoke alarm sounded off.  

After I turned the alarm off, I called the alarm company to tell them that the sand blasting must have tripped it. They told me that the firefighters were already on their way. Before I hung up, two fire trucks were in front of my house. I nervously apologized, and they were very gracious and understanding.

Two days later, our handyman was scheduled to clean, re-grout, and seal their  bathroom tile. He came a half hour early, before I had taken my shower.  While he was working in one bathroom, I was showering in the other.  As I was drying off, I heard faint beeping sounds. I quickly put on a faded pink towel robe that was fastened by an unreliable Velcro panel, and opened up my bedroom door. Now the noise was growing louder, and I ran into the hallway to turn off the alarm. Then I frantically flew down the stairs to get the phone number of the alarm company. I was so relieved to have reached them in time. Now I needed to head back upstairs to get dressed.  

After I put one sock on, the siren sounded off again. I quickly fled down the stairs, to look up the access code. Then I remembered that the handyman's assistant was working nearby in the first floor bathroom. He pretended not to see me, but I know he also caught  a glimpse of my towel robe, gently brushing up against my single tube sock. Meanwhile, the head handyman was trying to clean all of the dust out of the smoke detector, as I was coming up the stairs. Once it was put back together, my Groundhog Morning started up again. 

Before the fire department graced our doorstep again, I held on tightly to my repulsive robe, and pleaded with one of the handymen to  go outside and apologize for wasting their valuable time. Then I finally convinced the alarm service to temporarily disarm the system. They told me that this whole incident could have been prevented, if the painter had covered the smoke detector with a plastic bag. I'm sure this ordeal made both handymen welcome their wives with a passionate embrace.

That evening my oldest son came home from school, and actually noticed that his bathroom had been painted. He liked the bold color of the accent wall that will serve as a constant reminder. It's just a shade deeper; a spicier version of fire truck red.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

IWSG: Calling for a Happy New Year


Welcome to the first Insecure Writer's Support Group of 2016. I would like to wish everyone a very Happy and Healthy New Year. The older I get the more I have trouble remembering who I called or sent New Year's wishes to. I'm also not sure exactly when the cut-off date is. Do I continue signing my emails Happy New Year through the end of January, or does it become annoying after the 15th? 

Hopefully, members of Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group  will be able to weigh in on the subject. In the meantime, I've done a little research of my own.

I noticed this year was more competitive than usual when it came to texting. Mini-me emoji cartoon texts were circulating and I had to get in on the action. When I thought I chose a fitting Happy New Year text complete with stars and sparklers, one of my friends texted back a look-a-like emoji bedazzled in an evening gown and pearls. It became a battle of the texts and those who couldn't create their own Frankenstein emojis fought back with killer family photos, or exotic vacation scenes. I decided to take a break from texting to make some actual phone calls.

Here's where my research comes in:

  • Father's Day is the busiest day for collect phone calls Snopes. 
  • "We found that Mother's Day is far and away the most popular day to place phone calls across the world, registering more calling traffic than any other holiday, including New Year's and Valentine's Day," according to Reuters.

On January 1st, I called my mom to see if she had a good time at the retirement home's New Year's Eve party. She said, "Are you kidding? Everyone went to bed by 8:30." Then we talked about what everyone wore and who got indigestion, until another call came in.  

Mom: I have another call, but I can't find the button.
Me: The call waiting or "Flash" button should be somewhere on the top of the phone. 
Mom: Nope, it doesn't have it.
Me: Of course it does. It's a brand new phone, and we showed you where it was before.
Mom: I'm telling you it doesn't.
Me: Maybe your caregiver can help you find it. Why don't you ask her?
(10 minutes later)
Mom: She can't find it. I'm telling you I don't have it.

Eventually Mom hung up the phone, and the person who was trying to reach her finally got through. It was my brother and yes he knew exactly where the call waiting button was.

Afterward, I went upstairs to relay the story to my husband. I was just about to unleash my frustrations when I heard him skype-shouting to his mother in Israel:

"I said Happy New Year, Ma! Can you hear me?" (He kept repeating this over and over at louder and louder decibels. Finally, I heard him shout to her caregiver) 

"Put the earpiece under her hat so she can hear me. (10 minutes later)  Okay, now put it in her ear."

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

IWSG: The Ups and Downs of Elevator Etiquette

Mom celebrating her birthday with her grandsons; beloved son, and uncaring daughter

It's hard to believe that this is the final IWSG post of 2015. I'd like to thank Alex J. Cavanaugh for four wonderful years of hosting the Insecure Writer's Support Group, and encourage everyone to visit the rest of the talented bloggers. 

 Before Thanksgiving my mom hadn't been feeling well, so I told her that I was worried about her. She responded, "You don't worry enough."

We also had a discussion about the Barnes and Noble commercial with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.


My mom loves the commercial, and couldn't get over how wonderful Tony Bennett looks. She asked, "Did you see his mask?"

When I tried to explain that he wasn't wearing a mask she didn't believe me. I told her he must have a fabulous plastic surgeon, and that the photographer probably used a special lens on his camera, and other tricks with lighting. After she still didn't believe me, I started second guessing myself, and Googled everything I could find about the commercial. And people wonder why I don't have time to blog.

The next day, she told me that he wasn't wearing a mask after all. When I asked her what made her change her mind, she replied matter-of-factly, "Your brother told me."

Last Sunday we celebrated my mom's birthday by going downtown to see the holiday decorations, and have dinner. This had been the first time that my mom had seen her grandsons' apartment since they moved over the summer.

They frantically cleaned to make sure it would pass inspection, and my mom only found fault with a shower curtain that was in perfect condition, but it was "nothing special." Of course, I bought that shower curtain for one of their housewarming gifts.

There's never a dull moment in my family. My brother can always turn everything into a learning experience. Since my older son works in one of the tallest buildings in the city, and both boys live in a highrise apartment he's been teaching them proper elevator etiquette. For some reason, my husband has always been a first out of the elevator, first in the buffet line kind of guy, but my brother has taken both my boys under his wing with this task. After a few quick elevator drills, we worked up an appetite for dinner. 

Later while my husband was getting the car, we went back to their apartment to pick up my mom's birthday present.  Then a large unkempt man sporting pajamas while out walking his dog, joined us in the elevator. We all noticed that he had pressed a higher button, and tensions mounted, as we tried to silently plan an exit strategy with my mom's wheelchair through his massive structure and canine companion. 

When we reached our destination, the man and his dog walked out of the elevator, and politely held the door open so we could safely disembark. We thanked the kind gentleman who had passed the elevator etiquette test with flying colors. 

As we were heading down the elevator, we ran into an old neighbor who was very nicely dressed. I told her we were out celebrating my mom's birthday. She raved about how lovely she looked, and proceeded to ask her age. My mom's expression quickly changed, and she said that we had to hurry to the car, because my husband was waiting for us. That woman had failed the elevator etiquette test big time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IWSG: Oops Mom's Done it Again


It's time for another monthly meeting with Alex J. Cavanaugh's  Insecure Writer's Support Group, where writer's unleash their inner fears about everything from publishing problems to meddling moms.

Shortly after I began writing for a local online news website, some of my friends and family congratulated me. My mom said she was proud and excited for me, but I could tell that something else was on her mind. When I asked what was bothering her she replied, "Don't your blogging friends miss your stories about me?"

Here's what happened a few days later during a phone conversation:

ENI:  Mom, I just wanted you to know that I have a phone interview in a few minutes, so if you need to call me back, please wait at least an hour.

Mom: What if it's important?

ENI:  Is there anything important that you'd like to discuss now?

Mom:  I can't think of anything.

ENI:  Okay, then if you think of something else, just hold onto that thought for an hour until I'm done.

She agreed, and called me back fifteen minutes later during the interview to tell me about a great new movie.

Another instance occurred when Mom called while I was on the other line with a friend. I told her that I would call her back soon. Twenty minutes later, she was slightly agitated that I hadn't returned her call. I explained that I was still talking to my friend.

Mom took it well, and said, "I'm sorry that I'm only your mother and you can't find time to even talk to me on the phone. I'm sorry to bother you. I'll be fine. Goodbye."

Recently, I was out with my mom, and I checked my phone for messages. I immediately responded by emailing my editor, and followed-up with a call to the city manager's office.

My mom sat waiting with a drink and a snack while I finished my brief phone call. Then she said, "Why did you have to get back to them right away? Why are you such a pushover? I don't know why you let people take advantage of you like that."

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

IWSG: Lost and Found this Summer

Let's begin where we left off in July when our sons were moving in together. and I was lost in my empty nest. Shortly before the big move, I found a wonderful position as a reporter for a community news website that covers the North Shore suburbs of Chicago, Daily North Shore.  Selected stories are also featured in a weekend print edition.

I spent the rest of the summer losing and finding my way back again. Fortunately, Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group, always welcomes us back with open arms.

Last month I was at the library researching an upcoming event when I found myself heading over to the local author book shelf.  I was very impressed to learn that William Goldman the author of A Princess Bride, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, and All The President's Men, is also from Highland Park, IL. I couldn't believe that our little poetry anthology shared the same shelf space with this two-time academy award winner.

I combed through the section a few times, and Old Broads Waxing Poetic  was nowhere to be found. Suddenly, my whole life flashed before my eyes. Someone had actually checked it out. I wanted to personally thank this person for selecting our book, and find out what they did and didn't like about it. Okay, I just wanted to hear the first part.

I decided to approach the librarian. I explained that I couldn't find the book, and asked her to check the return file. She insisted that the book was still on the shelf, and we searched for it a second time together. Then it hit me. The library was selecting a book of the month for the upcoming fall poetry readings. Surely our book was under consideration, and put in a special place for safe keeping. I kept that thought to myself, as the librarian continued her search.

Finally, she decided not to mince words, "The book is missing. No one has checked it out. I've never seen anything like this before. It's simply lost."

I don't remember if I laughed, cried or a little bit of both, but I do know that I found my way home in one piece.