Rituals of Life

My mom has a GM credit card.

She has racked up something like $1500 points (dollars) to be applied on the next purchase of a GM vehicle.

Before my last brother died, she put on maybe *ten to fifteen miles a day * on her current car. It is five years old. Mint condition. It has 50k on the ticker. I would buy it off her in a heart beat, except I’ve done that route before and ended up with a car that was dying from lack of driving time in the real world. No, really. My grandfather was as equally non-rough with his car and that car was practically rotting from lack of use.

For as long as I have known her (36 years) any thoughts about cars or taxes literally sets my mother into ‘tight neck, fish eye’ mode. These things just cause her to have panic attacks. Until she was diagnosed with this problem - 6 years ago - I just dealt with it by using reason and logic. Which was a total waste of breath on my part.

She was audited by the IRS less than six weeks after my father died and since then she has full blown spasms over anything to do with Taxes. Every year there is this quest, akin to a Holy Grail, to try to find an accountant to do her taxes. She is very concerned about whether the guy is honest and will represent her if she is called in. Yet, she continously uses the free retired old accountant that offers his services at the Senior Center. And every year,after nailbiting her way through yet another filing and worrying she’ll get called in and then finds out she’s in the clear, the Old Guy she went to has died or retired to Florida, which is the same thing. And we go through it again.

Any attempts on our part to offer to pay her to go to our tax guy are pooh-poohed. We make the offer every year and every year we are pooh poohed. It is the Ritual of Spring around here. I will tell you this, Al Capone worried less about his taxes and getting caught than my mother and she has nothing to hide.

So, she is on a tear right now to buy a new car, which is a whole different barrel of worms of which we have to contend. We are urging her to get a lease.

Which she cannot afford because a) her investments are in the toilet b) until my brother passed on was still buying at least $400 a month in food so to take him a little something to eat at the home. c) on social security and d) it’s new. New ideas, thoughts or patterns are strictly discouraged at Chateau Mom.

So, sitting at the table, ignoring me because I am still wet behind the ears and she needs a man’s opinion on things which she takes as gold, she turns to my husband ( whom she adores, I secretly think, more than me, and he is welcome to it. That pedestal living is hard to maintain.) and starts asking him advice on cars and which one would he pick.

Mr. Ujest, very well versed in dealing with my mother patiently discusses cars with her as if she is his boss at work, or a guy on the bus. Y’know. someone with a rational thought in their head.

He knows where it is all going. He’s watched me walk that dusty road before. He knows she will never make a decision and she will get uptight about it, even with the meds she takes, which should be through IV drip when this subject comes up.

Yet, he is a brave, noble fool, and soldiers on. Then, patiently, and mascochistically, he asks her, " Why do you want to get rid of your current car?"

“Oh dear Gawd! It’s got fifty thousand miles on it! When my husband was alive…”

“Back in the last milenneum.” I interject, to be ignored by her. (He died in 75)

“We got a new car every six months on the Chrysler Program…blah blah blah blah. I’m an old lady. I don’t want to be stranded anywhere!” The hood she lives in is middle class to lower Upper class types. There is a Rite Aid or CVS on every corner within ten miles of her house. It’s not like she will be ‘stranded’ two hundred miles outside of Dead Horse, Alaska.

Mr. Reasonable asks, " *Have * you ever been stranded anywhere?"

“No!” Knocks on the kitchen table, " But I’ve been lucky. You never know." Fear of the unknown taking her last word up a notch. If my mother were an actress, she would be Margeret Dumont, from the Marx Brother’s fame. Classy, melodramtic, funny, kind, just not loaded. " I need to buy another car."

“How 'bout a Mini!” I ejaculate happily.

"Those cars are Death Traps™! " counters Margeret Dumont.

My husband smirks at me, " Just like your Festiva. " My first car, a shoebox, but, oye! How I loved it. It was predicted that I would die in it by the woman sitting across the table from me.

" Yeah, I’m still here after 100k on it. So much for being a Death Trap™…maybe I could sue them for failure to kill me."

I get from my Mother a lookfrom her that tells me she has me on Ignore Mode now. Good, its just the place I want to be.

“I need to get a new car.” She slaps the table to make her statement more profound.

“Why don’t you lease?” My husband mimicks her table slapping.

“I can’t afford a lease. My finances are in the toilet.”

“Just like they were ten…twenty…thirty years ago, Ma.” I said cheerfully. “You’re not getting richer, just older.”

“Exactly!” Counters my husband, the Bud Abbott of us, “Haven’t you ever heard of living in the moment. Riding around in style?”

“Style! Oh sure, that’s just what I need. How about a chauffeur to carrying me anywhere I want to go. With my investments so unsure, I cannot commit to a lease.”

“Ma, you spend more money a month on food you don’t eat than a basic lease costs.” I retaliate in exasperation. Pointing to the closed cupboard doors in her spacious kitchen that all, but two, are loaded with food that she buys. It is her crack. Her heroine. It is her addiction. Buy food. Because you never know what tomorrow will bring, so here is a box of five year old Fiddle Faddle to make it through The Next Depression™. " You know that blue pickup truck we drove for awhile? Our lease was $125 a month. I bet you could get something like that…"

“What would I do with a pickup truck?”

“Think of the crap you pick up garage saling.” My husband says very serious. “It could be bigger. Crappier.”

“I beg your pardon.” She counters loftily, " I buy only the finest junque. J-u-n-q-u-e."

“And that j-u-n-q-u-e is my inheritance.” I shoot back, hand holding my chin.

Realizing that the conversation has derailed, she charges right back into the thick of things. " I cannot commit to a lease. I have a fifteen hundred dollar savings coming to me."

They talk car talk for several moments, my mother wanting a nice, reliable, safe, cheap, well made car. My husband trying to explain that those words are no longer connected to today’s models. It’s not good for sales. Bigger, pretenious, gas guzzling. Buzz words of the modern age. This is nothing new in this car discussion either.

Valiantly, like a knight-errant, my husband sallies forth the bold concept of maintaining her present car which bombs instantly and I just slip into my happy mental place knowing that no matter what we say she will not listen and end up going out and buying a new car and then a year after that, we will be having the exact same discussion. *It’s a year old. It’s got five thousand miles on it. It could go at any moment. I don’t need hassles like that at my age. *

I slap the table, “I can save you ten thousand dollars or more!”

Two sets of eyes look at me, only one set is amused, the other looks like she’s about to ground me.

“Don’t buy the car and you save at least $12,000 if not more.” I lean back in my chair, content with the world. My husband agreeing with me entirely with a smile. My mother is more than annoyed. I am about to be disavowed, and that is alright by me.

“You don’t know what it is like being an old lady and knowing that there are people out there trying to take advantage of you. Mechanics…”

“You’re trying to have sex with a mechanic?” says my husband in a serious tone. " You don’t want grease spots on your polyester."

“Yeah…” I shoot back, boxing my mother in, " I’d hold out for an accountant."

“Yeah!” retorts my husband, " Then he can do your taxes."

I get the eye from her. The look that use to freeze me in my steps as a youth. It’s not so frightening anymore, it is really actually comical. " I raised you to be a lady. Don’t be so uncouth."

" If she wasn’t uncouth at least twice in our marriage, you would not have two beautiful grandchildren." retorts my husband, then looking at me, " What does uncouth mean?"

" Gettin’ Jiggy Wit’ It." I dryly reply.

“Look,” Says my mother, irritated that we are not taking her seriously, her tone ominous. " You have no idea what it is like being an old lady. When you are old like me, *you’ll know. You’ll understand. *" Her camp was better than Vincent Price.

“No.” says my Husband, deadly serious, " We’ll lease."

“A Mini!” I ejaculate happily.

“And we’ll have a chauffeur!” retorts my husband.

And with that we are pooh poohed by her, giving the brush off, until the next time we sit down with her. Then it will all start up again.

Which will probably be dinner on Sunday.

I bet I can save her ten thousand, if she’ll let me.

Great, wonderful story. Thank you for sharing, and if you like, you can have my father, too. He’s elderly and unreasonable. He also doesn’t speak English too well, and never finishes his sentences.

Come on! I’m sure you’d get wonderful stories out of him.

Wow just like when I have to deal with hubby’s grandma! Except she never learned to drive and I’m the chauffer!

Thank you for the early morning chuckle :slight_smile:

You mean there are other people with unreasonable parents and grand parents out there?

I’m not alone?

:::::blink blink::::::::::::::

Dang, I should form a support group: Children Of Unreasonable Parents.

We can wear fez’s and have a seckrit handshake.
It started out as something else, and then got a life force of its own. I’m really pleased how it turned out. I might show it to her, but I would probably be pooh poohed. The rest of my family, however, would agree completely.

Sign me up… I always wanted to wear a fez!

Just this Friday I spent 4 hours taking grandma for all her pre-op stuff. She complains and rolls her eyes more than a teenager.

So I drop her off to discover her hearing aids have been off for the whole trip (no wonder I’m hoarse!)

I ask her about said hearing aids as hubby and I think she could use some new ones. She tells me a long story about how she has to go to the bank monday for the lawyer. Um… talk about conversational whiplash.

COUP … its fun to belong to the COUP!

Some time I shall tell you, Shirley, about my father’s parents and The Freezer In The Basement.

Lovely thing, really. Rather old, still worked decently well. It was one of those things that you put on the floor and you opened up like a chest.

It needed a repair. The repair man happened to have a part that was discontinued some 7-ish years previously. That is the only reason he was able to fix it. We had been yammering (more than just my parents … you have ten kids and some of them stay in the area and you’re gonna have a lotta yammering, let me tell YOU) to them to get a new one for years.

I think eventually they got a new one, but by that point the spirit of the victory was pretty well dead (along with my grandfather not long after, and his wife 3 years later).

Now my mother has a Big-Ass Fridge we got recently because the old one was damaged to the point that repairing it would have leaked the stuff in the coils out. Not Fun. Before long, she will realize what an electricity drain the freezer she has is, and will get a bigger one so the air can flow more freely.

And instead of having two years worth of leftovers (just in case, you know, we happen to need five pounds of chicken bones in the middle of the night. Native Chicken Bone ritual, I dunno), she will have 3. Then she will dig a root cellar in the yard and have an electricity vent (or whatever) run out there, and she will stockpile.

And she says my father’s side are the ones who never throw anything away.

:slight_smile: Love the native chicken bone ritual Iampunah!

Just be wary when they start throwing stuff away!!! It then gets so much worse.

GMa - go look in those boxes in the garage and take whatever you want! Then they need to go to goodwill!

Tanookie - uh ok.

contents of boxes vary but some examples are:

7 gloves but they don’t match nor would they fit anyone in the family anyway.
Clothes even goodwill is not going to find anyone to wear.
A collection of polyester grandma suits all to fit someone 5 feet tall.
Broken homemade christmas ornaments from hell.
An assortment of drinking glasses.

Tanookie - ok so this stuff has to go to goodwill?

Gma - did you take anything? It’s all GOOD STUFF!

Tanookie - uh no there isn’t anything there I need right now… trying to clean out my own basement too but thanks!

Gma is unconvinced and shows me everything in the boxes like my own personal home shopping club hostess. “You could put a plant in this” “This is great material” “They don’t make these anymore!”

I try to be diplomatic but I don’t want her stuff. No one does. Not even her! So why is this so hard?

My personal favorite is “maybe the baby will want it” The baby is my 2 year old and no I’m not bringing all this garbage home to save for her and since my home is a little tykes toy museum she doesn’t need a broken plastic snowman to play with!

Normal conversation with my Dad.

Dad: Lissla, you know… what happened?

Me: No, what happened, Dad?

Dad: Heh heh heh. (glances sideways at Mom. Pause.)

Me: What happened, Dad?

Dad: Well, you know those people… (trails off. Pause.)

Me: Which people, Dad?

Dad: Joan, why don’t you tell Lissla?

Mom: No. Dave, you tell her. It’s your story.

Dad: Heh heh heh. Well, you know, they got a house…

Me: Which people, Dad?
I swear, sometimes I think that if he doesn’t finish his blasted sentence or explain what the heck he’s talking about, I will throw him out the window. Long car trips are a joy. I never have a clue what he’s talking about.

He also does the best elderly-Japanese-tourist impression I’ve ever seen. Dad wears a flat-brimmed net-backed baseball cap, and carries a camera. He acts like he’s unable to speak English. He was born in Canada. His English isn’t grammatically perfect, but it’s not like he only speaks Japanese.

Chicken bones?

Sheeit, punha I gotcha beat. And I don’t know if that is a good thing. This was about 1992 or thereabouts.

Background #1 About fifteen years ago some man was discovered in the Metro Detroit area to have been stashing his deceased and gone-a-missing wife in the…yes…freezer. The chest kind. The kids (grown) hadn’t looked in there for years and well…under the left overs and whatnot, was Mom. Gone something like 4 years. The guy got in lots of trouble, as you can imagine.

**Background #2 ** My mom had until about two years ago, a large chest freezer that she had bought during her poor years with four kids whilst living in Florida. It was 1962. She bought this behemoth of a freezer off a nice lady who was moving. It was twenty five years old in 1962. Mom paid $25. Figuring that if the freezer lasted a year she got her monies worth.

It was still running just fine ( knock wood) when the freezer delivery people dropped off the new one and took the old one away. It never failed her. She honored the Mechanical Gods of the Freezer™ by repainting it festive colors every decade or so.

The Story

One day, in my late twenties, I realized for no reason or prompting whatsoever, had never seen the bottom of The Freezer. It was like an inner voice told me to put down the newspaper and *go to the freezer. * Never one to ignore the voices in my head, I went to the garage, opened it, much akin to Indiana Jones opening the Ark of the Covenant, and stared at the mounds of frozen goods, slack jawed.

What had I gotten myself into? I thought, as I started rummaging. The top layer was clearly recent stuff that fed sustenence. The lower layers were clearly older, crusted with ice. PPossibly from the Mesotoic period, but I would have to wait for Forencics to get back to me on that with carbon dating.

My mother comes out, " What in the Sam Hell are you doing?"

“Ma.” I ask, holding a frozen turkey gizzard from the decade before clearly plunked into an old margerin tub and dated THANKSGIVING 1985. " I have never seen the bottom of this…and I suspect neither have you. I have to see it."

" You are going to ruin my system."

“System? You mean there is a sense of order to this chaos?”

“Yes,” she says, trying to shoo me away. " Just leave it be."

I sense her trying to get rid of me, but not for the usual reasons.

“What are you hiding in here?” I gave her a squinty look. " Oh my God. Your keeping Dad in the Freezer, aren’t you?"

She laughed, " It would have been cheaper."

I return to my search, and then I see what she had been hiding, trying to distract me with her charm. Hiding deep in a corner, frozen beyond recognition.

*Zucchini: garden. 1979. *

" Maaa! I shout in horror. This …this…zucchini has made it through two moves. That ain’t natural. Anything in here that long should have to pay rent." I waved the freeloading vegetable under her nose. " What do you have to say about this, missy?"

" It was a good crop that year. I hated to see it go to waste."
Feh.
She just got rid of my father’s medicine that he took when he was in the hospital back in 1975. She was real proud of getting rid of that.

Shirley, in terms of keeping shit forever, I have you beat.

House in France, 1995. Staying there (grandmother’s house, which my uncle bought from her some years before) for a month in the summer. Exploring in the house I find a calendar consisting of a bunch of pages. One page per day.

I took what I could find (it was in a stack in a closet) to my uncle, who was talking to my parents. “Daddy,” I start out, “what is this for?” As a child I didn’t quite understand this concept that you do not keep something if it is unimportant … as it related to my family. I figure if we kept something it was for a reason. I extended this line of reasoning to others.

“This,” he said, taking it from my young, naive hand (I was so naive even my hands were afflicted), “is for throwing away. Please bring me the garbage.”

“But … why was it there?” I was very confused. I had just found an old treasure (I was 13. Anything that was before 1980 was old and probably a treasure. Plus this was mere months after my grandfather had died, so I was still grasping that and trying to feel close to him). Did they not have a long and extended story about some purpose it had filled?

“Your father’s family,” my uncle (my father’s brother) started, “has the great gift of being able to find a purpose for anything and everything. Even,” he continued (and my mother turned away, put her hand to her mouth and tried not to laugh so hard that tears would spill out), “if they do not know yet what that purpose is, nor if they will ever find it out. They keep it around because one day, one day, they may yet find it. And until that day it waits patiently thinking to itself 'Self, when am I going to once again become useful? It is a noble, but sad, existence for them.”

Well, okay. He didn’t say most of that, but it would have been damn amusing. My father merely looked bewildered, as if this was not a practice in his family.

The year of this calendar (which wasn’t even complete)?

I’m not EVEN going to go into this with you all. I could, but I won’t. :smiley:

But I WILL join, only if you figure out a better acronym. Say, something that spells COPE…because that is what we are all doing. Just like they did with us when we were children. Not that they are going to SEE it that way…to THEM we are STILL children. Oy, I tells ya’, VEY!!!

And Shirley honey, tell her to get a Saturn. I love mine. Minimal and cheap service, nice people and VERY good safety standards. Tell her my DAD said to get one. :wink:

Children Of Parental Extremeness?

Children Overcoming Parental Eccentricism?

:slight_smile: That better Scotticher?

Children Of Parental Excentricities?

Or their antithesis ( did I spell that right?)

Parents Of Orn’ry Progeny. POOP for short.
Punha your unused calendar beats my frozen zucchini hands down. And what your dad said was absolutely priceless! It could be, and I am not kidding here, my mom’s eulogy at her funeral.

Shirley Ujest … may I use this for Teemings Extras?

I LOVE this one. And I therefore wish to join your excellent organization. Please send me the appropriate application? [sub]Not that I really need one, as life has already chosen to make me a member.:p[/sub]

If anybody’s Mom happens to run low on old stuff to obsess about, we’re getting ready to move Mom out of her 4 bedroom house into something smaller.

The boxes full of magazines and magazine pictures of babies and kittens, babies without kittens and kittens without babies are up for grabs. Latest publication date on any of them is 1954.

2 boxes of other magazines from the 30’s and 40’s may also need a good home. These are not topic sorted like the Babies and Kitties Collection.

And I am relatively sure that the 1957 Hammond organ, the 1971 Wurlitzer organ and the 1994 Rodgers organ will not all be going, especially since Hammond and Wurlitzer are in the garage, and have been (in various places) for several decades.

I have controlled toxic food issues. It’s paper that will kill us all, or musical instruments. (Most senior citizens do NOT take a baby grand, a console piano and a church-size organ with full pedalboard with them to the ‘retirement village’. Mom wants to.)

Oh, yeah. The newspapers from WWI and WWII. Not a few, the WHOLE war.

Euty I am honored! Yes, sirree bubbie!

Scotticher The membership application has only a few simple questions:

**Do your parental units do odd things that defy rational logic? **

**Are said parental units prone to the most bizarre reasoning skills that would tie up Freud faster than a necktie in a twister? Example:

Don’t go roller skating with your friends, you’ll end up pregnant like your sister. Why don’t you just smoke some dope and become a lawyer like your brother.

Do you get the vague sense of doom every time you look in your parental units basement, attic, cupboards, closets and storage areas?

** Do your Parental Units tell any new young whippersnapper Doctor that they see the following line? **

*I have shoes older than you.

I’ve outlasted your father who was my Doctor, I’ll bury you too.

What eyechart?

Hold my teeth, will you, my feet are killing me.

Can I still get it up, sure, but I forget what to do with it after that.*

Do any of these statements apply to your Parental Units:

“Why should I take my medicine, I feel fine.”

“Why do I need cable TV, I don’t need to see smut like that in my house. Why can’t they have nice shows on anymore like Matlock and Murder She Wrote. Nice Clean Wholesome shows.”

“The last decent movie I went to see was Singing in the Rain. Boy, that Gene Kelly, he sure could dance. But Astaire, he was classy…and Sinatra, a bum!”
Do your Parental Unit routinely knock on the table, head, anything in the area to ward off the unlucky spirits?

Do your Parental Units still whisper diseases as if saying [size]Cancer[/size] outloud will make it contagious?
Have your Parental Units ever taken a trip to Florida? Does the drive down to said state which use to take twenty four hours when you were a kid now take three days for them?

Do your Parental Units base their schedule around Senior Discounts at stores? * It’s Senior Tuesday at Denture Mart, I get free polygrip ! *

Do your Parental Units regularly take all their goodies from the resturant off their plates into plastic bags acting like they are stealing, so the food won’t go to waste, yet never eat the food once they get it home?

Do your Parental Units have a pet that they treat better than any of your siblings. “* Fifi just piddled on the carpet! Madge, get the camera!*”

Do you and your siblings play rock, paper, scissors to decide who will hand your Parental Units latest “problem”?
If you have answered yes to any of the following, Please accept our most sincere condolences. There really isn’t much we can do to help you, however, you may look forward to driving your own children insane when you reach that stage of life as well.

We found a box of tampons in the dresser in my grandparents’s spare room (which was my mother’s room as a child) after my grandfather died in 1998. The instructions in the tampons were copyright 1967. They actually advised inserting two tampons at once on “heavy flow” days. We also found random maxi-pads - the kind you had to wear with a belt - stuck in odd places all over the room. And in the kitchen were THREE tangerine orange mouli-juliennes that grandma must have bought sometime in the 70’s, still in their original boxes.

thatDDperson, you might check and see if your local historical society or museum is interested in your old magazines and newspapers. Or mail them to me; I love that kind of stuff! :smiley:

Shirley, I can honestly answer yes to almost every one of those!!! I want the snazziest fez you got :slight_smile:

I am constantly at war with grandma over the medicine thing. She seems to think they only give her prescriptions to waste her money.

Oh and if the doctor’s want to take blood! My 2 year old is better with needles.

My day is not complete if I don’t have her roll her eyes at me and tell me in ‘that voice’ (You all know the voice) “Well, a lot has changed since I was your age… you do what you feel is right.”

I opened the freezer and found free range grated parmesean cheese frozen into little clumps and orange peels so crusted with ice that it took me a while to discern what they really were. The fridge held cheese that had moldered and the expiration date was 3 years ago.

In restaurants everything that isn’t bolted down end up in the purse. Ketchup packets, sugar packets, napkins, straws…

Ugh and when we get coffee… the world will end if she doesn’t get the 8 cent senior discount!

:slight_smile:

Tanookie I feel your pain. :smiley:

Thatddperson you could probably make a mint selling all those magazines and newspapers, or just send them to me and other assorted dopers who love reading that stuff.

:slight_smile: