Sugar Granny

Putting my brain on hold, i packed up Mom and Studley, and we headed out to the wedding celebration for my brother, T, and his new wife. As you may recall, my sister S had decided this would be the perfect opportunity to introduce T to a half-brother he’d not known about, and had taken the liberty to invite this half-brother to the wedding reception.

As we were driving toward The Park, Mom was reminiscing about what a complete asshole her second husband had been…

Mom: Cletus was married once before me. They had a child together and then he went off into the Army.  Well, his wife took up with another man while Cletus was gone, and had another baby – that was Dave. When Cletus got back, he never acknowledged that Dave was his son…

daisyfae: Wait… What? You mean the newly discovered half-brother may not, in fact, be related to S and T at all?

Mom: Cletus never treated Dave like his own son, and never took any responsibility for him. Cletus had two sisters who disowned Dave, too.

daisyfae: Can…. Did…. Anyone in the family actually do the math? Has there ever been genetic testing done?

Mom: Well, S says he looks just like Cletus.

daisfae: [white-knuckle grip on steering wheel, head explodes] GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Studley: [laughing maniacally from backseat]

~~~~~~~~~~~

Despite my exploded head, we arrived at the party. Wheeling Mom up to a table, we joined my sister, S, along with her possibly half-brother, Dave, and his wife, Pam. There was another woman at the table, who was introduced as Imogene, Pam’s mother. When joining any table, i do a quick triage on seating – trying to optimize conversation for all, with the least amount of annoyance for me. Studley quickly worked the same social math, and had perched his arse on the back of an adjacent sofa, claiming the prime vantage point to watch the fireworks, without getting hit by shrapnel.

i placed Mom’s wheelchair next to S, who was sitting next to Dave and Pam. i dropped into the seat between Mom and Imogene, who proceeded to tell me her life story. A charming woman, Imogene had just turned 91 years old. Full of spark and playfulness, she wasted no time in sharing her annoyance at being dragged to a party where she didn’t know anyone, as well as pulling out pictures of her dead husband.  i was able to get her chatting with Mom, and made a break to inhale a vodka tonic grab a bite to eat.

Studley found me by the barbeque meatballs, shaking his head in astonishment. “Wow.”  My brother, T, and his wife, K, were having a grand time, making the rounds and introducing family and friends. They’d stop briefly to chat, then move on to the next group. A nice collection of humans gathered to celebrate a wedding…

Eventually i returned to the table, and Imogene got going again. Very sweet, very funny, and inquisitive.  She wanted to be introduced to Studley, thinking he was my husband.

daisyfae: No, we are a couple, but not likely to ever marry. We’ve both done that, and are pretty happy as we are…

Imogene: Well, he’s a handsome man, and a real sweetheart! You better hang onto him before he gets away.

Mom: I’ve been telling her the same thing.

Studley: [smiles, raises eyebrow, posts his trademark ‘hey, baby’ look]

~~~~~~~~~~~

Two days later, Studley and i were floating in my pool… doing retirement financial planning – sorting out whether i’ll have sufficient resources to retire early and move the fuck overseas to get as far away from The Park as possible. He has repeatedly assured me that i have more than enough to live such a life, and should really stop worrying about it.

We also did the “after action report” on the previous weekend, which is partly why i needed to go over the retirement financials again. As an afterthought, i reminded him of how much those senior ladies adore him…

daisyfae: You can write your own ticket with the old broads! Between Imogene, and those ladies at the women’s league luncheons, you oughta find yourself an old bat with a lot of cash. Get yourself a Sugar Granny…

Studley: [grinning] What makes you think I haven’t? [dives for safety]Gimme some sugarThis babe found here…

Excavations

Mom is moved back into her home, and even though it took far too long, it is absolutely perfect for her needs.  When we first began excavations, we had to go through a seemingly insurmountable mess – decades of ‘stuff’ that she simply couldn’t part with…

We used four categories:  “Keep” (put in storage during renovations), “Donate”,  “Garage Sale”, and “Pitch”.  The “Donate” pile was substantial, and Mom’s church had a great inventory that year.  The “Garage Sale” items were parked in her back yard shed for future disposition.

This week, my niece, DQ began rooting through some of those items, and has been working on a family garage sale.  i was surprised to get the following picture via text message last night.

glass shit“Another Box Full of Glass Shit”

DQ:  I’m going to assume you’ve been through this box before?

daisyfae:  YES!  Definitely my handwriting!

Blasting Your Past

The message from my brother, T, last April wasn’t a tremendous surprise.  He’d gotten married.  What surprised me was that he’d not married the woman he’d been dating for a year, but had met someone new two weeks prior, and found himself completely smitten – head over heels in love, as he’d never loved anyone before.  And they had just eloped.

One of the reasons i can never give up on my brother is that despite things going rather horribly wrong with his first three marriages, he still genuinely and truly believes in the magic and mystery of love.  Most people would be a little bit crunchy and bitter after all he’s experienced, but not T.  At 60 years old, he has found “the one”, and i’m happy for him.

Perhaps a bit skeptical, but hoping for the best, anyway.

Since they’d not had a proper wedding, T and his new bride, K, decided to throw a party this month to celebrate, and bring the families together.  He is in the process of selling his home, and moving in with her, so the location will be near K’s home – conveniently located about halfway between where i live, and The Park.

Mom really wanted to go, so plans were made for my sister, S, to bring her to the event, which is being held this coming Saturday evening.  Last week, i got a call from S.

S:  I have already RSVP’d to a wedding that night, so I won’t be able to stay.  Is there a chance you can bring Mom home afterward?

daisyfae: Sure.  i had tentative plans for later in the evening, but can adjust.

S: I need to go to a wedding at 6, but can then stop by and pick Mom up to bring her to T’s party.  Maybe stay an hour or so, but I really need to get to the reception for the wedding I said I was going to…

daisyfae: i’ll tweak my plans a bit, the party i was going to will likely run late, so i can drop in later.

This really wasn’t a big deal, just a little extra driving.  It was the next bit that scrambled my circuits…

My oldest sister, S, and brother, T, are technically my half-sister, and half-brother, although none of us really think of it that way.  Mom was married twice before she met Dad, and S and T had a different father.  A man who abandoned them, and Mom, when they were small.  There were some rotten things that happened along the way.  Their father was later murdered, and neither of them has much memory of him.

S has been curious about her biological family, and has reached out to a few biological aunts and uncles to better understand his story.  T, on the other hand, has had absolutely no interest in digging into the past, and has made it clear to S that it is not something he cares to discuss.

Last winter, through a genealogy website, my niece discovered that S and T had two half-brothers through their father.  S was able to connect with the wife of one newly discovered half-brother, Dave, and was invited to attend his surprise 70th birthday party.  You would think that meeting a half-sister you didn’t know existed might be a hell of a shock to a 70 year old heart, it apparently went well, and S has maintained this connection.

As i spoke with S last week regarding logistics for T’s wedding reception, i was stunned to find that she’d invited her half-brother, and his wife, to T’s party.

S: I appreciate that you can get Mom home Saturday!  There’s even more complications though… Dave and his wife are coming down to meet T, too…

daisyfae:  Ummmm….  Did you ask T?  Do they realize that this is essentially T’s wedding reception and that he won’t have a lot of time to talk?

S:  I was going to have it be a surprise, but Mom thought I should tell T first.  They know he’ll be busy, but they really want to meet him.  I need to call them tonight.  T really doesn’t want to talk much about the past, either, and said he really wouldn’t be able to sit and chat with them.  Dave had a lot of history he wanted to tell me, but when I told T I’d invited them, he said he really didn’t want to talk about the past at all…

daisyfae:  It really is T’s wedding reception.  Sure, fourth time’s the charm and all that, but it might not be the best time to meet a half-brother you didn’t know you had…

S: Well, they really want to come…  I’ll have to tell them that I won’t be able to stay too long either.  I might show them a picture of you, since you’ll be there with Mom.  Not that I expect you to babysit them or anything…

daisyfae:   Ummm…. maybe you could suggest there might be a better time for them to come down to meet him?

S:  They’ve got their hearts set on it.

daisyfae: …..

wedding crashers

 

The Perfect Day

The dog was dying.  His owner decided to give his pet a perfect day.  i’d read this sweet story of how one man prepared for the loss of a beloved companion a few years ago.

Since then, i’ve given this some thought, and have planned to do something similar for my old pup, Mr. Pickles.  Rather than wait, i’ve thrown in elements of ‘perfect days’ for my dog as we go about the business of living – why give him just one?  Three weeks ago on a hot June day, Studley and i decided Mr. P needed to go out for ice cream…

He loved it…

Mr. P gets ice cream

Having a dinner of Mexican food and killer margaritas with my children, Studley, and his daughter, we discussed the elements of Mr. Pickles perfect day.  Discussing all the things he loves, we tried to lay out the things he most loves… Cheese.  Chasing a ball.  Chasing the cat*.  Naps.  Splashing in water.  Riding in the jeep.  Eating his own turds.**

i was interrupted during dinner by a call from my niece, DQ.  Mom had been admitted to the hospital earlier this week with fluid in her lungs.  Stepping out to take the call, i got some fairly grim news.  The lung cancer is probably back, and not treatable.  Mom was feeling rotten, also battling a staph infection in her blood.  We made plans to meet with a counselor from hospice.

Returning to the table, i kept the news to myself for a bit – not wanting to take a steaming shit on a really good time.  i filled my children in on the news from The Park when we got home.

The Boy:  Maybe it’s time to craft a Perfect Day for Granny…

daisyfae:  i’ve already done a bit of that… but yeah, we could do more!

In January, i brought Mom to visit when my sister, T and her partner came to town for a long weekend.  We spoiled Mom with attention, and food and entertainment.  Not to mention blessed quiet, which is in short supply in her current living arrangements.

Last May, i had her up for another fun-filled weekend!  Cooked steaks on the grill on a Friday night, then went to a local women’s league luncheon the next day, where she was showered with attention amidst a great deal of silliness.  Putting on two ridiculous Derby hats that i’d crafted, we went to a bourbon tasting – where she enjoyed a perfect mint julep.  Sunday morning, we brought her to the horse show, where she got to see her “baby” compete in the arena with all the other kids…

The prognosis for Mom isn’t great, but it seems the cancer is slow moving.  She’ll need more in-home skilled nursing care in the future.  But she’s not quite dead yet, and finding ways to give her elements of “The Perfect Day” is deeply embedded in my brain.

Derby Day

 * The Boy thought it would be most fun if we tape the cats back legs together, allowing Mr. Pickles a better chance to “play”.  Although Huey is a team player, i’m not sure i’ll go that far…

** Nope.  Not gonna happen.

Arrivederci Roma

The kid with the tangled mane of hair sprawled across the worn gray carpet in the living room  She’d spent hours working the music box mechanism.  Winding up the platform, where the wooden boy, arm raised confidently, strode toward the train.

get on the train kid

She played a game.  Trying to wind up the music box just enough so that as it slowed, it would end on the final strains of the tune.  Sometimes cheating a little, pushing in the metal button to stop the music at the right place.

Forty five years later, the kid still has hard to manage hair.  She still doesn’t care much what it looks like most of the time.  She was back in that same living room yesterday, bringing her mother home from an appointment with the cardiologist…

Mom is doing ok as she approaches her 86th birthday.  The lung cancer has apparently been radiated into submission.  A pacemaker keeps her heart ticking along.  She moves slowly, with the assistance of a cane.  Usually out of breath, the cardiologist ran another EKG, and ordered some blood work to check for anemia.  Checked her pulse oxygen, which was a reasonable 93% using the finger cuff.

“I’m just so tired.  Sometimes I just think my heart is going to quit.”

Mom has been working through her estate plans.  She is not confused about what she wants to happen when she dies, and has taken the advice of her attorney to get things sorted.  We’d just returned from another visit to the bank to address some of these issues

Going into Mom’s apartment, she brought me to the dresser where she keeps her important papers.  She was showing me where she keeps stock certificates, and other assorted documents.

i was surprised to see the little guy on the music box, still chasing that train…

At the first strains of the tune, i was right back on that worn gray carpet.  A little dusty, it still worked perfectly…

“Your Dad gave me that years ago…”

“i know, Mom.  i remember this well…”  Still able to wind it up just so… Still able to use the metal button to bring the music to a halt at just the right place…

“Do you want it?  Put your name on the bottom of it.  Or just take it home now…”

“No.  i can’t do that…  You still have it out!  It looks perfect right here…”

“Well, you better mark it if you want it because if you don’t it might disappear after i’m gone…”

We had discussed this over lunch.  It is entirely within the realm of the plausible that anything that could potentially be of monetary value will vaporize as soon as she dies.  “The perils of benefactors, the blessings of parasites.”

i left it there, but the melody has been stuck in my head ever since.  Thinking about my father.  Thinking about the man that devoted his life to caring for her, and her children.  Leaving behind friends and family in the northeast, and starting over in his new role…

arrevederci roma

Get on that train, kid.  Don’t look back…

Hospital-ity

Renovation to Mom’s house is nearly complete, an occupancy permit has been granted, and after over four years, there is a glimmer of hope that she will get to live in her own home again before she dies! (Plot synopsis here, if you’re new!)

Why, after fourfuckingyears, has this become a priority for my niece, DQ, and her husband, BJ? Progress was sporadic from the start, since BJ needed time off for vacations, deer hunting – not to mention his paying jobs. I had considered several options to increase his motivation over the past few years, but Mom didn’t want to make anyone mad.

The motivation came from an unexpected source – BJ’s parents. When DQ and BJ first married, BJ’s parents bought the house out of foreclosure, offering to rent the house back to them. This arrangement worked fairly well – until September, when BJ’s parents announced their plans to get a divorce. The house must be sold. By Christmas. Essentially, they’re being evicted!

Taking Mom to the cardiologist when this was breaking news, she let me know that DQ had been putting pressure on to change the deed to the house before moving in. For her protection. My reaction was a bit less than enthusiastic…

daisyfae: FUCK THAT!

Mom: I know. I don’t see any reason it can’t wait until after we move in, but she’s worried that the rest of the family will cause trouble and she’ll be homeless.

daisyfae: She has earned compensation for taking care of you!  No one is arguing that! She can always sell the land you gave them. [grinding teeth] You just tell me what you want to do and i’ll make it happen…

Mom: She’s putting pressure on me to set up an appointment with the attorney.

daisyfae: Under no circumstances are you to go to see the attorney to change your will, or the deed to the house, without me present. This will not only protect you, but it will protect DQ should anyone ever think there was coercion.

Mom: That makes sense. I just don’t want her to get upset with me…

daisyfae: Tell her it’s my schedule. i really am busy at work, so taking a day off is going to be tough.

And that’s where we left it…

The message was apparently delivered. A few days later i started getting passive-aggressive pings from DQ about setting up an appointment with the attorney. i was polite – and my schedule really has gotten tough.

This is unpleasant and stressful.  i became engaged in another round of “Trailer Park Mexican Standoff” via e-mail. Trying to take the heat for Mom, without causing any trouble. My instinct is to call bullshit, and be a far more direct, but Mom requested the sideways approach.

It didn’t surprise me to get a call from DQ as i was leaving work last Thursday. Because i was driving, i let it go to voicemail. Just not in the mood to deal with the bullshit. Retrieved the voicemail when i got home.

DQ: Took Granny to the doctor today because her cough has gotten worse, and she’s been very weak. Doctor sent us directly to ER. They’re going to admit her – probable pneumonia. I’ll keep you posted.

Well.

So much for my righteous indignation. When shit hits the fan, DQ does an excellent job taking care of Mom. All squabbles set aside. Priorities firm. We’ll sort out the legal stuff later.

Visited Mom over the weekend, and she took a few minutes to write a note to The Boy. Wished him a happy birthday. Told him she’s proud of him. Didn’t mention her troubles.

hospital-ity

She’s home now, and is doing much better. We came up with a new plan of attack.  We’ll get back to the regularly scheduled bullshit later…

Lessons of old dogs

“Do you think your pup needs to go outside?”

“Nah! i took him out a couple of hours ago! He’s just being a pest!”

Studley and i went on about our project du jour, while my ancient dog continued to try to join the game. He eventually wandered off to the living room and we went on with our adventures. Only to be interrupted a few minutes later by the unmistakable sound of a torrent of urine* being unloaded onto carpet.

Rushing toward intervention i got him hooked to his leash and opened the front door so he could take the remainder out into the bushes. We came back inside, and the poor fella looked rather forlorn, knowing he wasn’t supposed to paint the rug.

Giving him a pat on the head, i assured him that it was ok, as i set about mopping up the mess.

“It’s ok, Buddy! You tried to tell us! Nothing more you could have done!”

i got out the SpotBot to do some extraction.  Mr. Pickles sheepishly wagged his tail and looked a little less grim.

“You know, at his age?  There really isn’t anything he can do to piss me off…”

i stopped dead in my tracks.

“Why don’t i feel the same way about Mom?”

Turns out?  i do.

When i launched the blog back in 2008, one of my primary demons was my relationship with my mother.  i was angry and resentful at her for the way she treated my father.  i was frustrated by her history of ‘one bad damn decision after another’ – primarily in the arena of enabling my siblings to continue to make ‘one bad damn decision after another’.  i could not comprehend her bitterness with life, given that the last half with Dad had been far better than the first half – and she never seemed to demonstrate gratitude for the gifts around her.

But i’ve since realized that her relationship with my father was/is none of my business.  He understood and accepted her.  Who am i to weigh in on that?  Every decision she ever made regarding my siblings was made with love – she wanted to help.  She was born bitter, and will die bitter, and there’s nothing that can change that.  Her heart is generous, it just has a really thick crust on the outside.  She’s done the best she could with what she’s been given.

i can honestly say – “At 84 years old, there is nothing my Mother can do to piss me off.”

mr pickles sez

* My dog has a phenomenal capacity for piss. Through the years, he has developed the ability to hold onto it for many hours.  When he lets go? It’s Victoria Falls. In yellow…

Dog Gone

Mom’s visit to Miami went very well.  My sister, T, and her partner, TK, fussed over her, fed her*, entertained her, and spoiled her for a week.  i went to meet TK and Mom at the airport on Friday, and was expecting to find Mom tired.

TK wheeled Mom up the jetway. When they emerged through the door, Mom was all smiles.  TK was huffing and puffing a little bit, due to the weight of the loaded wheelchair, and the steep incline of the jetway.

We shared hugs and tales of adventure.  i started wheeling Mom to baggage claim.  TK headed to her departure gate for her trip home.

It required a bit of dexterity to roll the checked suitcase, and Mom, out the door and into the parking garage, but i managed.  On the ride back to The Trailer Park, i learned more about the week.

daisyfae:  What did you think of the house?

Mom:  It’s just beautiful!  Easy to get around in, too.  T helped me into the shower, and even helped me wash up my feet.

daisyfae [shuddering at the thought of helping her naked, 84-year-old mother bathe]:  Great!  Did Thanksgiving go well?

Mom:  Oh, they were bickering a lot on Wednesday, but it was a nice meal.  Sorry I had to leave today, though.  I was looking forward to some of those leftovers.  T made us sandwiches for the plane, so I did get more of that ham.

And on it went…  Tales of an escaped cat, a manatee (and baby) near the dock, and feeding turkey bones to the fish.  She enjoyed the visit, appreciated all they did for her, and even said she wouldn’t mind doing it again!

daisyfae:  Well, i’m sure you’re looking forward to getting back home.

Mom:  No.  Not really.

We pulled in the driveway, and i helped Mom out of my car.  She made her way to the door, as i wrangled luggage and the wheelchair from the trunk.  Getting my arms untangled from the folded wheelchair, i was distracted by a commotion on the porch.

One of the three hounds had escaped, and my niece, DQ, her daughter, DQ, Jr. and the 5-year-old, DQ, III, were racing out the door.  Mom dodged them all, and dropped onto the lounge chair on the front porch.  Chaos!

One of their other dogs is a 3-year-old Sharpei.  This dog has had allergies, skin problems, and stinks like swampass most of the time, but she’s a sweet critter.  She’s been getting out of their backyard fence and running the neighborhood.  She joined in the festivities, and went bounding down the street after the other escapee.

i suggested DQ hop in my car, and that we try the old “Road Trip” doggie retrieval method.  We cruised to an adjacent neighborhood, where the dogs had disappeared a few moments earlier.  Gave us a chance to chat.

DQ:  I’m glad she had a good week with T.  I REALLY enjoyed the week off.

daisyfae:  Well, Mom wants to try it again.  We’ll make it happen in March or April if Mom’s up to it.

In the meantime, the dogs had disappeared.  We returned to the homestead, and found the dogs racing up a neighbors driveway.  DQ jumped out of the car, and chased the sprinting animals.  They bounded away, and she turned around – taking a vaudeville-style tumble on the way back.

Nothing broken, but some scrapes on hands and knees. She returned to the house and i continued to chase the dogs.  Using leftover cookie shrapnel from the floor of my car, i was eventually able to get the wayward animal back home.  The smelly Sharpei followed along… i gave her a bit of a cookie, too.

It was a madhouse when i opened the door.  DQ pissed off at the dogs, and wiping her scraped knees with a towel, DQ, III howling in sympathy, offering band aids.  Mom trying to sit, without tripping over the dogs.  Television blasting at “eleven”.

DQ  [referring to the Sharpei] :  I swear, I’m going to have to put that damn dog down!  She’s losing her hair again, smells awful and she just won’t stay inside the fence.  I don’t care if she gets out!  Tired of chasing her!  Maybe if she gets hit, she’ll at least be going on her own terms, you know?

Figuring that the best thing to do at this point was disappear, i hugged Mom, said my goodbyes.  i’ve suggested finding an animal rescue organization before.  There was too much noise to bring it up again.

As i drove away, had to wonder if DQ’s approach to animal care makes Mom a little nervous…

* When she visits me, i give her fresh fruit and a bagel for breakfast.  They were dishing up cooked-to-order omelettes, served by the pool on the lanai.  Show offs…

Operation “WhiteBird”

The plan was hatched last month.  My sister, T, and her partner, TK, finished renovations on their beautiful home in Florida.  They wanted to find a way for Mom to visit, but Mom would not fly alone.

TK is a frequent flier, and needed to rack up a few more segments to maintain her “AssKiss Preferred” traveler status.  She offered to fly up in the morning, pick up Mom, and fly back with her the same day, giving Mom a week in sunny south florida.

My job?  Picking up Mom and delivering her to the airport.  Knowing that i would need a ‘gate access pass’ to get her through security in a wheelchair, i enlisted Studley to help with transport.

Yesterday was the big day!  We had agreed to stay in touch by text, doing group messaging to keep all members of the team on track.  By 7:00 am, T had gotten the ball rolling… With T, her partner TK, and her sister KK in the loop, we made it happen!  Game on!

Follow along and see if you can figure out what was happening.  This went on for about 16 hours!

~~~~~~~

T:  Plan in execution.  TK is Giraffe, KK is Zebra, T is Lion, Mom is
WhiteBird.  Daisyfae is?

T:  Giraffe is at gate.

TK: Giraffe is on plane and ready to take off toward Motherland.

daisyfae: daisyfae is Moose.  Moose is scratching her ass, playing “Angry Birds” and having coffee.

T:  Lion snagged pumpkin pie ice cream for breakfast.

KK:  Zebra just finished morning gallop.  What time is Giraffe’s return flight?

daisyfae:  Giraffe and WhiteBird return 9:40pm.  Moose and Squirrel
(Studley) will update on launch from Motherland.

T:  10-4

TK:  Giraffe has landed in Motherland.  Beautiful day!

T:  Giraffe went to watering hole. Sign says “Dry til 1:00pm”.  Shitty
luck.

TK:  When will Moose arrive with WhiteBird?

daisyfae: Moose and Squirrel inbound to pick up WhiteBird.  Will send
smoke signal on next leg of safari.*

TK:  Roger.  Out.

daisyfae:  Moose and Squirrel have WhiteBird in hand.  Repeat.
WhiteBird inbound! Smoke signal on arrival at aviary to arrange Giraffe
connection.*

daisyfae: At curb.  Squirrel out for recon.

TK:  Giraffe is with Moose, Squirrel and WhiteBird!  Headed to feed.

daisyfae:  Found oasis near aviary.  Negotiating terms of hostage
transport over wings and beer.

TK:  Cleared Checkpoint Charley with WhiteBird and Moose.  Waiting at
gate.

T:  Lion guarding tropical bird nest.

daisyfae:  Moose taking WhiteBird to litter box after Giraffe returns
from provisioning at aviary snack shop.  Squirrel waits in parking lot,
protecting “Angry Birds” from green pigs.

T:  yee-HAW!

daisyfae:  Moose and Squirrel northbound.  Giraffe and WhiteBird
preparing to board magic carpet to Lion.*

TK:  WhiteBird and Giraffe on magic carpet waiting for the rest of the
animals to settle.  Moose and Squirrel did a great job handing over the
goods.

KK:  YOU GUYS ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY!

T:  Stand by, Zebra.  WhiteBird is about to fly.

TK:  Magic carpet engines ON!  WhiteBird and Giraffe are buckled in
and headed to tropical nest.

T:  Left gate early.  ETA now 9:30pm

KK:  Flight tracker ETA 9:10.  Tailwind.

daisyfae:  Moose and Squirrel back at Northern Command Post.

T:  Zebra with Lion at tropical nest.  Awaiting arrival signal.

TK:  Carpet ride is over.  En route to meet Zebra and Lion after
collecting gear.

KK:  Zebra in motion.

T:  Giraffe – report location

TK:  Still at gate.

T:  Zebra and Lion waiting safely in Ant Hill.  Ready to deploy.

TK:  Have goods.  To curb for retrieval.

KK:  Zebra is moving.

daisyfae:  Moose has vodka tonic.

T:  We have WhiteBird.  Repeat: WhiteBird reunited with Lion!

daisyfae:  Mission Accomplished!

* While i was driving, Studley served as communication officer.  Messages marked with an “*” are all his…

Reunion – Epilogue: Promises were made

Six weeks – and seven posts – after the family reunion, I’ve had time to reflect on what happened that weekend.

BJ:  He’s a 27-year-old working man, taking on the responsibility of a family while still having a lot of “boy” in him.  Raised by a couple of complete nutters – with some crazy siblings for added fun.  He also is pretty heavily medicated for ADHD.  Not always the brightest bulb, but he can work a miracle “cypherin'” the amount of wood planks required to repair a deck.  Last weekend, he took third place at the county fair with his demolition derby car, and is piecing it back together to enter another contest in a few weeks.

He’s done the best he could with what he’s got.

DQ:  Manipulative?  Certainly.  She’s raised it to an art form, always being able to find the angle that maximizes personal gain.  Bad at financial math?  Life-long history of spending money she doesn’t have.  Poor choices of partners?  At least the first few…  Does she take care of Mom?  Yes.  Absolutely.  Perhaps not the way i would want to be cared for, but Mom prefers this to other options.  She may have limitations when it comes to making good decisions in everyday life, but when the shit hits the fan, she can get the job done with ruthless efficiency.  When Dad was dying, she was my first call for help with the ugly shit.

She’s done the best she could with what she’s got.

TK:  Coming from a wealthy family, she had every opportunity to excel – and she has.  Retired from the world of professional golf, she is now gainfully employed within the same community, and works her ass off at her job.  She plays just as hard, often as captain on her boat — generously taking family and friends on deep-sea fishing, snorkeling and diving excursions.  Her demon was falling madly in love with my sister - and it’s been one of the hardest challenges in her life.  Having no experience with mental illness, she’s had to do some reading to compliment her ‘on the job training’.  Has her own therapist now, too.  But she’s willing to try to stay in for the long-haul, and…

She’s doing the best she could with what she’s got.

Hurricane T:  Bipolar disorder, to a degree that would hospitalize many, she is a tenured professor at a large university.  She’s invested well, and worked the real estate market to great advantage – even earning a Real Estate license just to make sure she understood the innerds of the business.  When her body chemistry goes out of whack, she’s dragged the family through some bizarre territory – from cults to gut-wrenching emotional drama.  This has fueled a gigantic rift within the family, as she called “bullshit” on Mom’s living arrangements early and often… and loudly.  She’s had bad luck with partners until recently.  Oh, and she can be funny as hell.

She’s done the best she could with what she’s got.

Mom:  My earliest memories of my Mom involve yelling.  She used to scare the kids in the neighborhood because she was the ‘mean mom’.  If she wrote her life story she said she’d call it “Bitter the Apple“.  But she also tried her damnedest to help us with school projects, volunteered for classroom parties, and hauled our adolescent asses to the skating rink every Friday night.  She has a good heart, and would buy us far too many gifts at Christmas as a way of showing her love – also making up for all of the things she didn’t get as a poor kid.  A classic hoarder from that, too.  She was a ruthless caretaker for Dad, keeping all of his lab work and medical reports in a folder to make sure nothing fell through the cracks.  When he was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, the prognosis was horrible – and yet she helped keep him alive for another 3 1/2 years.

She’s done the best she could with what she’s got.

daisyfae:  Lumpy, middle-aged, emotionally hardened woman, trying to make good on a death-bed promise to her father.  “You’re it.  You’re ‘Number One Son’.  You need to look out for them…”  Through that reunion weekend, with a good bit of effort and a well-timed snake attack, the familial rift has been patched – at least for now.  Mom talked to Hurricane T – and reassured her that she is ok with her arrangements, even if the house is never finished.  i came to appreciate who DQ and BJ really are – and realized that i should give a bit more slack.  Mom will always be bitter and broken – and the more her body hurts, the crabbier she’s going to be.  Did daisyfae keep that promise to her father?

She’s done the best she could, with what she’s got…