Frosty the snowman
Menopausal the woman
Photo credit: Nashville Clarks
Frosty the snowman
Menopausal the woman
Photo credit: Nashville Clarks
My husband had an early shopping day with our daughter on Saturday, so I decided to surprise my parents and enjoy my eggs and toast at their house. It’s only a three-mile drive but my timing was off. My father had just finished his own eggs, bacon and oatmeal and my mother was already enjoying one of her favorites – an ice cream cone breakfast. While we didn’t enjoy a meal together I thought our 1×2 time could still be special.
I started to tell my mother about my journey home from work on Friday night. I explained that I sometimes take a different route home to learn the area around the new office.
My mother responded after finishing her cone:
Knowing that was just her catchphrase I continued…
I was only telling you because my GPS said there was a Goodwill in the area. I knew I had her attention now because it is one of her favorite places to thrift. It was my hook.
I didn’t even get to add the punchline that I followed the map for an extra six miles and learned the store no longer exists in that location. Feeling incomplete, I had to at least finish my sentence. I cut to the chase and told her that I found a new shop that I liked in that neighborhood anyway.
Mom. I know you’re excited for James to take you to the casino but you’re not listening here and now.
Yes, it’s like you can only focus on my brother. I get it though. I know you’re just excited about the trip. My comment seemed unappreciated but it registered and she snapped out of it.
“What time is it in Nashville?”
They are only an hour behind us mom. It should be around 8 AM. Why?
“I’ve been sitting here waiting to call your sister Twyla. I mailed her a package and wanted to know if it arrived.”
Well that explained more. I decided not to take her uninterested comments personally. I also realized it was my brother she was irritated with, not me. He had told them he would arrive between 9 and 10 but it was now 9:10, so she considered him late.
My mother reached for her flip cell phone. I asked what time she was going to call my sister? Her response was curt and quick.
“The hell with her. I guess I’ll have to risk waking her up.”
My sister Twyla couldn’t sleep up to or past 8 o’clock if she tried. Although she’ll wish she had when she answered the phone. The unwritten rule is that you called when a package arrived, so my mother didn’t worry that her gifted parcels were in oblivion.
The heat was off James and I and onto her but she didn’t even know it yet.
“You’re up.” was the start of my mother’s conversation.
I could only hear one side of the call but her next comment was, “well, there’s not much going on here.”
I jumped on the other extension. Really mom? I thought your other daughter was here visiting?
Knowing how sensitive I am, my mother quickly acknowledged my comment:
“Oh, shut up.”
Then to Twyla:
“What do you mean several packages have arrived and you don’t know if one of them is from me?”
My sister works so hard she probably hadn’t read any of her mail from the entire week yet. Regardless, she was now required to look through the stack while my mother was on the phone. She was going to be in trouble either way. If it was there, she hadn’t reported in to the Mom tracking system. If the package wasn’t there, it would also be her fault simply because the post office had assured my mother of a Friday delivery.
Based on my mother’s mood, I was now glad the attention was not on me.
“What? I can’t hear you, Donna burnt some toast and it smells awful.”
I know noses and ears are somehow connected but I didn’t realize my carbohydrate carbon smell could impact my mother’s hearing aids.
I ignored the comment as I thought ‘Whatever’ in my head. I broke my yolk to match my heart and slopped up the bright yellow gravy, picking up the emotional pieces. I washed my dish and gathered my coat and keys.
My father came back in the room and asked why I was leaving so soon?
I just thought I’d stop in on my way to getting groceries. Twy is on the line. Have a good day with James.
“If he gets here. It’s almost 9:30.”
My morning visit was complete. We did not enjoy a meal together, the timing was off and it could have been special.
To define “Aunt” Trudy would be to say she was a divine woman and a favored dinner companion. We were not related but rather, both adopted extensions of the Mullaney holiday gatherings. I was a nephew’s wife and she was the son’s mother-in-law. We were those added family members that created the need for a larger ham at Easter, demoted the youngsters to a kids table at Thanksgiving and brought additional dessert selections at Christmas.
Trudy was that interested family member that sincerely wanted updates to everyone’s life. She also brought her own experiences, humorous or thought-provoking, to the dinner table. While her age would define her as elderly, this grandmother was more active than most. She had weekly exercise groups, unique interests and outings with friends. Trudy didn’t boast about any of them, they just came through in her conversations. She put everyone at ease and was the most gracious guest. Her “across the pond” accent, and accepting and loving nature made her delightful company. She was a woman’s woman.
It’s 4 am and as I admire the near full moon lighting up our bedroom, I feel safe. I tell myself a lit night sky is not always a good thing and am reminded of Trudy and a comment she once made in real Aunt Stel’s living room. If they both knew I was now writing this on my iPhone under the covers, like a tweenager reading with a flashlight under their first homemade tent, they would be laughing at my childish approach to retelling this moment.
A woman doesn’t typically talk about her age and Trudy was no exception. So I thought, until she told a story one Easter, about how she quit smoking as a young woman. When one of the boys had to excuse himself to go smoke, Trudy was understanding and told him not to apologize for leaving the room. She completely understood nicotine’s prodding. During his temporary departure Trudy talked about the nasty and inconvenient habit and how she was finally able to quit.
I am sure her story was compelling; I don’t remember the whole tale. What I do recall is that there were multiple date references, that included the year she was married and how long she’d been smoking. I backed into the numbers and inserted myself into the conversation. I suppose I was trying to match her wit, charm and humor when I delivered my mathematical perspective.
“Trudy, if you’d been smoking that long by the time you quit, that would mean you were already smoking at thirteen! How scandalous; were your parents aware of this?”
As gracious as ever, she smiled and welcomed me into her storytelling. “Why, yes, dear. They knew my friends and I smoked during the air raids in London. The cigarettes calmed us in the deep level shelters as we listened to the bombing overhead.”
My question, and any potential follow-up, was no longer charming, humorous or witty.
Her WWII response left me mute.
I froze in my chair and didn’t have a worthy comment.
I finally started to stammer an educated retort into the now quiet and compassionate room but she’d have none of that. Instead she eloquently added another sentence or two about her English family and simple dress fashions of that era. Her answer to my question did not intend to make me feel uncomfortable.
When my brother-in-law walked back in with his Marlboros, there were a few chuckles around the room.
“What’s so funny? Were we the butt of your jokes while I was gone?”
“Clever. No, dear. We were just talking about England and my family.”
Trudy moved the holiday along and continued. “Sit down and tell us about where you’re working now? Do you have a girlfriend?”
Trudy kept the atmosphere upbeat and had seamlessly transitioned the conversation to someone else. This British adopted aunt certainly did add to the family. Like the moon, Trudy reflected light in our life and made us all a little brighter.
I just decided footsy pajamas are appropriate for a woman of my age; I’m 50-onesie.
Impressionable childhood memories sneak up in the strangest ways. I thought of this character when I clipped my aging toenails?!
Ping, ping, pinnnngg!
Photo credit: Hanna Barbera
I yearn to write the story that has been in my head. The humility and laughter needs to be shared. Saturday drafts await but first I must finish this book.
My soul is tangled within its pages. The feelings and lives of the characters are brave and raw and real. Their story is part of me, and develops who I am, as both a reader and writer.
Menopausal hot flashes equate to being a human candle. Without warning, a match is applied to the tip of your inner core. The intense heat melts you from the inside out. The internal campfire lasts moments or hours.
When the flame is extinguished, approach with caution, the embers may still be hot.
Life’s a fragile egg.
Develop your strategies.
Go easy; don’t flip.
The time between knowing you should go to bed and your very best work.