Tag Archives: moms and daughters

November 2016 column Michiana House & Home Magazine: Leftover Memories

leftovers        My mother savored memories. Like leftovers from a Thanksgiving dinner, they were the kind of thing she chewed on for a week, rehashed, reimagined and reinvented as she found new things to reflect on.

A few years after my father died, I threw her a surprise birthday party at her house that was attended by several family members and friends. Mom was truly caught off guard and seemed pleased by the whole thing. Although I stayed behind to chat and to clean up after everyone went home, she still called me 15 minutes later (as I was walking through the front door of my own home) in order to thank me again, tell me how much she enjoyed herself and to relive the night all over again.

“So how did you know when the house would be empty?” She asked.

“Oh, right before you and your friend Jack went out for dinner, I had them ask to use the restroom so that they could call me from their cell phone,” I replied.

“He called you from the bathroom?”

“No mom, he dialed my number and let the phone ring once. That was the signal that you were leaving,” I replied.

She wanted to know how long it took me to plan it, where I bought the decorations, what bakery was responsible for the delicious cake, how many people I’d invited and who all was not able to attend.

“Why in the world would you want to know that?” I countered. “You had a houseful of people who love you and wanted to celebrate you. Why focus on the people who couldn’t make it?”

I later realized that wasn’t her point at all. For her, a surprise birthday party in September was the kind of thing that would tide her over until Halloween when she would count the number of Trick-or-Treaters she had, offer up a running commentary of how many looked “too old” to be out and lament the carloads of kids who were imported from nearby neighborhoods. Afterward she turned her attention toward Turkey Day, helping to organize my menu, tell me where the best deals were and double check the plans. After the meal was over, we’d go over everything again until I often felt as though we were having the same conversation on repeat.

As my world becomes more virtual, I’ve discovered that I also miss having long conversations with someone chewing over something that just happened. Today, I can’t even ask my friends went, about their vacation because I experienced it in real time via social media.

This month, let us be grateful for those memories that we make and experience in the here and now. Let us turn from the technology and be in the moment. Let us call the person after the fact and tell them how much we enjoyed the celebration they worked so hard to arrange rather than simply giving it a thumbs up on a web page.

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MHH Column for June: Pushing My Buttons

best-universal-remote-controls-updated-970x0         Once upon a time, I used to get the biggest kick out of watching my mother try to operate anything more complicated than a can opener. When I was 12-years-old we bought our first VCR, a rudimentary model with a corded remote no bigger than my palm and buttons so clearly labeled that anyone with thumbs could operate them.

Anyone, that is, except my mother.

Unfortunately, the geniuses that designed the thing put the power button below the TV/Video button and if one made the mistake of turning these two things on from the top down rather than the bottom up, it would take all day to get them in sync. I literally laughed so hard I cried watching her rage against the machine that held The Thornbirds hostage.

I’m no longer laughing.

While I used to be able to hook up an electronic device inside of five minutes without looking at an instruction book, today I can barely retrieve my voice mail messages without hurting myself. I can’t help wondering: When did I turn into my mother?

The other night I turned on my television and was asked if I wanted to update my software or see an input list. Uh-huh…see, what I wanted was to watch a movie, not have a conversation with the TV set! I dealt with those issues and then went half crazy trying to get the movie started. Apparently my Blu-Ray player is the same brand as my ancient DVD/VCR combo and my remote control activates both. One wrong move sends the whole thing into chaos that requires three people, two calls to tech support and a battery change to straighten out.

As if that wasn’t enough, smack in the middle of the Beatles 50th Anniversary special in February, a portion of my cable system went out. I called my provider screaming about the musical legacy of Paul and Ringo while she resent signals from Asia in an effort to fix my problem. When nothing worked she suggested I watch the show on one of my HD channels and proceeded to give me a sequence of digits longer than my social security number. Since when do I have HDTV?

I have three remotes within arm’s reach that have 105 buttons between them and I can perform only five functions on them. Three claim to be “menu” buttons however, that operation is never available when I need it. There is an energy saving button that hasn’t spared me an ounce of sanity and four brightly colored buttons complete with an assortment of un-raised dots that strike me as a sick Helen Keller joke. I don’t dare dust them because the last time I did, the government shut down, the President ended the Space Shuttle program and my son missed a critical episode of Doctor Who.

Coincidence? Maybe, but I’m not taking any chances. I suspect that somewhere in the Great Beyond my mother has been put in charge of the Karma button, has mastered it and is getting me back for every time I laughed at her, one piece of equipment at a time.

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