Friday, April 28, 2006

Ah Family....Ugh Family...Ahh

Well, it's happening again.

It's springtime, the kids are off from school for a week, my desk is overflowing, the calendar is jammed, and so it must be time for the annual visit from "the folks," otherwise known as Noni and Pop-Pop, or alas, my parents. They live 2,700 miles away, and don't get me wrong, we are happy and blessed that at age 79 and 80, they are still game to endure a 5-hour flight, sleep fitfully on our 19-year-old sofabed, stand in breezy fields watching our boys play baseball, treat us to dinners out and pizza in.

But. They are sleeping on the 19-year-old sofabed that is in the middle of our TV-computer-family-everything room, and wanting to go to dinner out when we'd just rather have pizza in, and coming along to the ball field which we must leave early because it is "too breezy." I am running, as usual, on all cylinders and then some, and Mom wants me to "take it easy." Dad wants the TV volume cranked way up, Mom wants to spritz her perfume daily in a house full of allergic sneezers and asthmatics, and they both want to spend hours daily tracking down all the regional foods and ethnic delicacies they miss in their southwestern U.S. retirement city.

Dad claims to be "no trouble" but a meal cannot begin unless there is a full loaf of baked-today-semolina-Italian-bread-with-seeds on the table. Mom arrives limping because a foot problem two months ago has morphed her size 8s into size 8-1/2 Extra Wides, and she hasn't "had a chance to buy new shoes," so we visit the "comfort shoe" store and me and Alice, the gem of a salesclerk, spend 20 minutes convincing her that white New Balance walking sneakers with velcro are neither ugly nor clunky, not too young for her nor "old ladyish."

Dad complains that everything is overpriced and he is watching his budget, then drops $30 on rub-off lottery tickets at the deli, and did I mention they live in the gambling capital of the U.S.? Mom says she is watching her cholesterol but during a quick trip to the supermarket she slips the following into the shopping cart: Entennman's oatmeal raisin cookies, Stella D'Oro Anisette Sponge, and a four-pack of oversize pistachio and chocolate muffins.

And just when you think you can't take it for even another few minutes, and you realize they only just got here two-and-a-half days ago and will be here for another 18 (eighteen) days, then you catch sight of.....

....your 80-year-old mother telling your pre-teen son about her favorite school subjects and the 1945 Mets and he's listening.....your 79-year-old father, hump-backed and challenged with memory loss, naming a long list of presidents -- first and last names -- as your 8-year-old son pays rapt attention...while playing a word game at dinner, when required to say one positive word about everyone at the table, your Mom, who has an 8th-grade education, calls her grandchildren "thoughtful," and "assertive"....your aging parents, married 59 years, who so often bicker and complain about one another, holding hands and walking very slowly along the driveway, smiling at each other, just glad to be around to see their daughter's family once a year.....well, that kind of makes up for all the aggravation. Kind of.

No comments: