Archive for November, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Like most hormonal women, I tend to get weepy during this time of year.  I’m not sad but just touched with the kindness and emotional out-pouring of the season.  This is something I think I’ve inherited from Mimi.  In fact, I’ve never seen the woman cry except around the Thanksgiving table.  She didn’t cry at either of her parent’s funerals, not at her husband’s, not even at her own daughter’s service.  However, something about sitting around that table declaring what we’re thankful for always starts the waterworks.  This is something I’ve witnessed every Thanksgiving since I graduated from college nearly 8 years ago.

This year is the first Thanksgiving in those 8 years that Mimi and I will not be sharing a meal and to be honest, it makes me kind of sad.  Yes, last year I nearly killed her as I attempted to prepare a homemade dinner.  She shuffled around the kitchen turning up burners and opening the oven and adding salt to things that didn’t need anymore.  She forced me to make her recipe for a cranberry jello salad and then heaped a piece of the offending dish onto my plate almost on top of my turkey.  FYI:  I do NOT like my food to touch.  Yes, it’s a weird quirk but one I must stick to.  For instance, the gravy cannot seap onto my green beans and the cranberries must never touch any part of my dish.  I require a fair amount of space between each entree and side item.  But I digress.  Despite the stress-free holiday, I’ll miss her making me crazy.  I’ll miss seeing how excited she gets at talking with Tony’s parents even if she could never hear a thing they said.

Thanksgiving with Mimi was always different than the Thanksgivings I experienced as a kid.  Growing up we always ate at my paternal grandparents’ house and things there were anything but calm.  The holiday with Mimi seemed more normal and how it was portrayed in the Hallmark or Lifetime movies.  Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ house replicated those in the Griswold household.  I remember one year my two uncle’s got mad at each other and one ended up throwing the turkey at the other.  Yep, a fully cooked 25lb. bird went sailing through the air because Uncle Vic’s wife pitched a fit when there wasn’t enough room to scoot her child’s highchair up to the table’s edge.  Another year Uncle Sam, who had shed his shirt because of the high level of heat in the kitchen, was washing dishes after the meal.  My Dad folded over a piece of toilet paper and squirted some of my grandmother’s brown cream onto the surface and slapped that piece of toilet paper right onto his brother’s back.  Once he pulled it off and looked at it, Sam comenced gagging and stumbled to the front porch where he deposited his half digested meal over the railing.  Yes, good times these were but what Mimi’s Thanksgiving lacked in frat house fodder it certainly gained in dignity.

I will miss all the oohs and aww’s over my meal because Mimi  is and has always been my biggest fan.  So this year, even though we won’t be together, I’ll give her a call and assure that I’m thankful most of all that I’ve been blessed to have her in my life for so long.  And whether I’ll be able to hear it or not, I’ll know that there are a couple of tears streaming down her cheeks just as there are mine as I write this.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone and may we all remember what we’re thankful for and just how precious each day is.  🙂


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Last week marked my husband’s 39th birthday.  Admittedly, I was both delighted and shocked when Mimi remembered and even asked to wish him a happy birthday on the correct day.  My aunt, however, was not aware of the day and immediately became flustered over not sending a card or gift.  Naturally, that was not a big deal to us but she insisted on sending some sort of gift card.  Well, Maryann called last night to tell me one of our neighbors had called her to inform her Tony’s card had been delivered to his house.  She gave me the man’s name and phone number and told me to call him so we could retrieve Tony’s gift.

Apparently, knowing full well the state of Mimi’s mind, Maryann had allowed her to address and send the card.  Oops, she sent it to 205 rather than 206.  The neighbor, Dave, whom until this point we had never met, said he looked all over the internet for Tony’s phone number but couldn’t find anything.  That’s because we don’t have a landline, we just use our cell phones.  So, he looked at the return address and decided to look for Maryann’s phone number which he was able to find.  He called her explained the situation and within minutes the card was in my hands.

I don’t know what people are like in your neck of the woods but this sort of behavior is something for which West Virginians have become known.  This poor man obviously did a lot of research to uncover the rightful owner of the card and we appreciate his effort, not just for our benefit but because we can now discuss the card with Mimi and thank her for her gift.  Afterall, gift-giving was and still is the one thing Mimi likes to do more than anything else.  🙂

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Auditioning for the Circus?

As most of you know, Mimi is still in Chicago but I get daily updates from Mimi’s step-daughter.  The latest one took the cake.  Maryann arrived home from work one evening and says she walked in the door, took one look at Mimi and was unable to contain her laughter.  There Mimi sat in her chair with lipstick smeared on her eye lids.  Maryann asked, “Mom, what are you doing?  Did ya get a little heavy-handed with the lipstick today?”

Mimi replied, “Oh, did I put too much?”

Maryann told me, “I mean Tara, the woman looked like she was a clown in the circus.  That’s how much lipstick was on her eye lids.”

Apparently, Mimi has been doing this for some time.  She uses the lipstick as an eye shadow and usually blends it in so there’s just a tint of color on her eye lids.  I hadn’t noticed.  The only make-up I had seen her wear was her lipstick and her eyebrows, which she draws on.  Admittedly, those eyebrows can sometimes get a little heavy too.  There were times I’d walked in and her appearance called to mind what I believed Miss Havasham from Great Expectations to look like.  Maybe I was wrong for doing so but I just let her go out like that.  I figured it was how she wanted them to look and I’d probably just embarrass her if I pointed it out.

Maryann, obviously, has a tendency to worry about the southern lady things like Mimi’s make-up and whether she’s out of her face moisturizer or if she’s been to the beauty shop that week.  I, on the other hand, am more concerned if she has enough medicine or Depends.  She’s on her own when it comes to how she dresses herself or applies her make-up.

For instance, one evening I came to drop off Mimi’s groceries and found her sitting in black slacks, a black T-shirt with small white polka dots over which she wore an unbuttoned red blouse with large white polka dots.  Like Maryann, I couldn’t contain myself and said, “Well, you’re awfully bright today.  I think that outfit is hurting my eyes.”

To which Mimi replied, “Well, I just thought I’d wear all polkie dots today.  See, it matches.”

I found out later that she’d been to the beauty parlor, a Circle meeting, and out to lunch all in that horrendous outfit.

Since her fall I’ve been seeing all sorts of new “outfits” and make-up techniques and I’m sure we’ll be seeing far more especially now that the holiday season is upon us.  I can’t tell you how many bedazzled Christmas and winter sweaters the woman has.  ‘Tis the season!

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Radio stalking

First off let me apologize for not writing in so long.  Mimi is currently staying with her step-daughter in Chicago so I guess you could say I’m on a bit of a hiatus from care giving.  Since she’s been gone though, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and am remembering some of the stuff that happened early on, when I first moved to Charleston.

After graduating from West Virginia University’s school of journalism I landed a job as a radio news anchor/reporter in Mimi’s hometown of Charleston.  After about a year of working the late shift, I was moved to the morning news show.  It was during this time that Mimi realized she could keep track of me through the radio.  I worked from 4 a.m. until noon every weekday but usually didn’t actually broadcast the news until 9 a.m.  If for some reason I wasn’t able to broadcast the news and someone did it in my place, the newsroom phone would ring at 9:05, the time the broadcast ended.  “Well hello, and how are you?  Is Tara around?”  Mimi would ask.  If I were in the studio the person would toss the phone to me but if I were at home she’d hang up the phone and call me on my cell.  “Well what in the world’s wrong?  Are you sick?  Why aren’t you at work?”  Everyone in the newsroom knew who Mimi was.  In fact, a lot of the listeners did too.  On the rare occasion that I filled in as an anchor for the statewide morning show, my co-anchor and I’d talk about her latest activities and the fact that even though she was in her mid-80’s Mimi proved to more active than most adults we knew.

So you can imagine Mimi’s disappointment five years later when I informed her I had quit my radio job to work as a nanny.  “Oh honey!  But you have such a good voice for radio.  All my friends say they can understand you just perfectly,” Mimi lamented.  I suspect that was a valid part of her disappointment but I believe the bigger letdown was that she’d no longer be able to police my movements through the clock radio in her kitchen.

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