I got a call at work Friday morning from Mom. She called to remind me that Dad’s birthday was this weekend, and he was home, while she was at the beach. She said that since she wouldn’t be there, I should take the kids over and at least tell him happy birthday. She also said something like ‘didn’t you have a birthday a while ago’. Yes, I did – last summer.
She also had burned her hand on the stove, and it was bandaged in the ER, but it still hurt. She has an appointment for dental surgery some time in the next week or so. Just so that I know.
And that was it. Total conversation time under three minutes.
First, her mood. She was sarcastic, and probably in a tightly controlled hypomanic state, judging by the speed and tone of her speech.
My first (guilt induced) thought was, maybe it would be a good idea to take the kids over to see Dad. We’ve got a present that we found a while ago that he would really like. Then a few minutes later it struck me that I was being manipulated. I know that I should have known it from the minute she called, but the guilt conditioning runs deep. Then I thought that Mom must have incredible intestinal fortitude to call and ask that I remember Dad’s birthday, when the only birthday they remember is my Daughter’s. And both my Sons’ birthday were completely ignored by them this year.
So, I told my Wife about it when I got home, and she thought it was funny because ‘guess who she ran into at the store today’. Dad’s neighbor & his formerly estranged wife – apparently they are now back together. According to them, Mom is doing really well, normal even. Dad on the other hand, has health problems, has been getting very forgetful, and was ‘lying in the ditch’. The ditch thing seems to be a recurring theme for him – probably because his driveway is a little different than Dad’s. Dad’s driveway has a concrete pipe under it that lets water get through. Unfortunately it frequently clogs up with twigs and leaves, causing water to run around and undercut the mailbox. About twice a year, it needs to be cleaned out to keep it from happening. Usually, this means lying down in the ditch, using a shovel to remove the debris. Because of the width of the driveway, you have to do it from both sides, and there is still an area in the middle you can’t reach.
My Wife asked me if I was considering seeing Dad, and I told her no. Dad has told me every time I see him, that he will call or stop by ‘the next time he’s in town’, but he doesn’t. I answer when he calls, and fit whatever he asks into the schedule. If he doesn’t want to see us, I’m not going to force it. His choice, and his loss.
I missed two calls from Mom’s cell on Saturday. I was changing the window motor in my truck, and didn’t have the cell around – not that I probably would have answered anyway. I finally got around to listening to them this morning. Mom was calling just letting me know that Dad was home and eating lunch, so now would be a good time to go over, if I wanted to go over, which I probably didn’t, or my Wife wouldn’t let me. And it was such a shame that I was depriving her grandchildren of benefiting from a relationship with my father, and I would really be sorry since he is getting old and won’t be around much longer. And my kids would probably blame me for that, and treat me exactly the same way.’
Nothing new, and as usual Mom left all the contact numbers again, as if the reason I don’t call is that I don’t have the number or something. And it’s funny, because this is the first time I’ve noticed, but Mom leaving those numbers sounds a lot like the computer generated voice that reads off numbers on some voicemail systems.
Done with that for a while, probably. The next event where I *might* hear from Mom would be in early July. That’s her birthday, but it is close to our wedding anniversary as well. She hasn’t ‘reminded’ me of either in a year or so.