I just returned from a three-week visit with the parents in Florida. Every year I see them over the holidays to collect my presents, and remind myself of why I fled there in the first place.
This trip, my father picked me up from the airport, and on the ride back to the house inquired about my departure.
“So what time does your flight leave?” he asked.
“I don’t know, dad,” I said. “Why don’t I get unpacked, and get back to you on that one?”
Every morning, when I get up, Mom asks, “Do you want cereal, an English muffin or eggs?” I usually go with the eggs, which I don’t cook at home, because I just can’t clean up after myself the way my mother can.
As she washes my breakfast plate, she wants to know what I want for lunch. After a few hours of I don’t know’s, she finally just makes me something, and I revert to being an eight-year-old boy, drinking my milk and eating my sandwich.
“Mommy,” I whine, “are there any potato chips?” As she hands them to me, she asks me what I want for dinner.
Dinner is served earlier and earlier in my parents’ home. In the past, we might not eat until 9 p.m. But now my folks are in bed by that ungodly hour. I stay up much later, watching TV with the cat. But they’ve been pressing me to knock off earlier, too. “Maybe you wouldn’t be so tired,” they say.
Leave me alone, I sass them in my head. I’ll go to bed when I wanna, and who do you think you are anyways, Mommy and Daddy?
Before he calls it a night, Dad walks around the house, double-checking that all the lights are off. If there was a job out there for a light policeman, he’d get it. I’ve never seen him miss a room with a light on. It is a little frustrating when you’re in the bathroom and a hand reaches in and turns off the light, but I look at it this way: That’s another nickel towards my inheritance.
Sometimes I worry that Mom and Dad are getting up in age. Their typical conversation goes like this:
Mom: “Paul. Paul. Paul!”
Dad: “What? What? What?”
Mom: “I asked you if you were going to the store?”
Dad: “Am I going to get a whore?”
Mom: “No, to the store?”
Dad: “What do you need at the store?”
Mom: “Some flour.”
Dad: “What do you need sunflowers for?”
Mom: “Not sunflowers. Flour. For a cake.”
Dad: “I don’t want steak. How about pork chops?”
After Dad gets home with pork chops, he wants to catch the news. He likes politics way too much. I try to tell him there’s more to life than politics. He says “Well we’d have a lot more in life if we had different politicians.” As usual, he’s right. They’re always right.
If it sounds like I’m griping about them, I am. It’s what I do best. And if they do a few things that cause me to bite my tongue ‘til it bleeds, I’m sure they do the same every time I ask to borrow money.
Every annoying thing my parents do for me, they do out of love. I love them, too, because I get sad every time I have to leave them. When Dad drops me at the airport three and a half hours early, I have plenty of time to go through the big bag of snacks Mommy packs for me, and appreciate how blessed I am to have them both.
Lately they’ve been asking me to Florida to be closer to them. Are they crazy? Hell-to-the naw! Although it would be nice to drop my laundry off with Mom, and pick it up at dinner time.
By Jeff Charlebois