Don’t Throw That Away.

Every now and again, I open my mouth and something my parents have said a million times before comes out. This morning was one of those experiences. Typically, we buy a frozen orange juice concentrate to make orange juice for the boys. This week, however, there was a super deal at the commissary on a large ‘pitcher’ of orange juice that I couldn’t pass up.

The boys finished that juice off this morning with breakfast. Boy number 3 was tasked with cleaning the kitchen after our meal. Playing with the lid on the spout of the orange juice container, he announces that the trash is full and his brother needs to bag up the garbage or he can’t do his job. This, of course, turns into a huge conundrum that made me question if I really wanted the boys to do their chores causing me to deal with all the arguing that ensues. (I am sure this is their ploy each time they have tasks to complete.)

Entering the kitchen to threaten redirect them, I see number 3 playing with the juice container. Loudly, I announce, “Stop playing with that! And don’t throw it in the trash either, it’s a good container and we’ll reuse it for more juice.” Right then, a memory of my parents emphatically ordering us to save empty cool whip containers and butter tubs despite having a cabinet or two full of plastic ware that practically attacked a person upon opening the doors invade my brain.

Memory re-run ends and I walk over to my own plastic ware cabinet to take a peek.

Slowly, I am becoming my parents…

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Late Night Call From Mom

As I get older and my own kids leave the house to venture into the world, I realize how much I really can relate to my mom. I didn’t realize how much we were alike until the other night.

I call my parents every other day to check in on them, see how things are going, and make sure neither of them are ill. I even attempt to convince them to downsize their house and move closer to me by luring them with the idea of being in close proximity of the VA clinic, the town is older and has many activities for retirees, and they can see their grandkids whenever they want. To this day, that endeavor has not been a success.

Most of my calls are in the early afternoon to my parents; however, I have called mid-morning if my day is going to be busy and that afternoon call would be almost impossible. Never have I called after 9. I can still hear my parents stating, “No one needs to tell you anything important if the call can’t be made before bedtime.” This was a regular comment growing up in a house full of girls who constantly were on the phone. Imagine my surprise when my mom called at 1030 one night…

The sound of Cookie Monster singing, “C is for Cookie” invades the living room where I left my cell phone after returning from soccer practice. I had settled down in my bedroom reading the latest self-help book with a catchy title that I picked up at the bookstore. Boy number three and my husband were involved in a serious FIFA battle game against each other, but when that phone rang and I announced in a panic, “Grab my handy, that’s Neen and Pop’s number.”

Boy number 3 runs my phone to me and I answer. “Hello?” I hear my mother’s stifled laughter on the other end of the line, followed by “Did I wake you?” After assuring Mom that I wasn’t asleep nor was she bothering me, I asked if everything there was okay. Mom, apparently oblivious to the time answered, “Of course, I’m sitting here watching a show and I think you need to watch too. It’s on the ‘Life Channel.'” Together, we perform the process of elimination to figure out exactly what channel was the “Life Channel,” and I located the LIFETIME channel on my television. The show…Kim of Queens, a show about a woman who prepares girls and teenagers for pageants. Mother informs me that I missed the hilarious parts, but she has already gone through the menu and found that the show replays at 1 a.m., so I can catch up on it. Feeling much more relieved that nothing was wrong at parents’ house, I laughed and checked out the show a little. It was hilarious and perhaps it was my curiosity that wouldn’t allow me to sleep that caused me to catch the replay at 1 a.m.

After living overseas in different countries with my husband, I missed the silly phone calls to and from home. Sure there was communication, but typically the calls were to check in, fill each other in on what’s going on in family member’s lives, wish a happy birthday or holiday, and exchange new addresses. Now, living in one place permanently, I am afforded the opportunity to laugh at the silliness and plan the trip to help out when they are ill.

Our call ends, but just before my mom hangs up, I hear my mom say, “You know I love you, Patty.” This sounded different than any other farewell we had had on the phone and I got a little choked up but I replied, “Of course, and I love you too, Mom.”