Saturday, June 13, 2015

In which Primo dishes about Sly and Doris after his visit there

Primo just got back from a week with Sly and Doris. Here are the snippets of gossip from our pillow talk last night.

1. Sly and Doris are still mad at Ted's wife from the last time she visited. Apparently, she ate all the pickled herring.

2. Ted's wife also left dinner early and returned to the home of the friend where she and Ted were staying. Ted and his wife are smart enough not to stay with Sly and Doris. Then TW never went back to Sly and Doris'. Can you see why she is so awful?

3. Sly told Primo that there were so many women who threw themselves at him but he turned them all down. There was even a man who offered to trade wives with him,  because the man's wife was so hot for Sly.

4. Sly and Doris are still mad at me for eating something I was not supposed to eat. It has been four years at least since my last trip there.

Me: What was the food I was not supposed to eat?

Primo: I don't know.

Me: I wonder what it could have been, since you and I have to take a lot of our own food with us.

Primo: Can't remember.

Me: Did I know I wasn't supposed to eat it?

Primo: I don't know, but if you didn't know, you should have known.

5. The cat has had fleas before. You know - the cat who does not go outside. The cat has had fleas before and has been treated before with the $140 treatment from the vet, but it did not occur to Sly and Doris that perhaps they should do something to prevent the cat from getting fleas again.

6. Sly and Doris still do not have a plan.

7. Primo asked if I wanted a relationship with Sly and I said no way. The only reason I would go to Sly's funeral would be to be sure he was dead. Primo and I agreed that Sly's funeral will not be well attended. About five of my dad's friends bought last-minute tickets to go to his funeral. My dad's funeral was packed, even though he had not lived in his hometown, which is where he is buried, for 45 years.

8. Sly told Primo that he was so glad that Primo and Ted and Jack had not had to be in the military the way Sly was. He continued that of course, the military would not have taken any of them - Ted and Jack have asthma and Primo has flat feet.

Me: You have flat feet?

Primo: No!

Me: But your dad says you do.

Primo: My dad thinks I have flat feet. He's wrong.

9. Primo was with Sly and Doris for a week. It is a month since the election. He has quit his job. It was not until Primo's last day with them that Sly asked Primo what he was going to do now with his life. The last day.

10. Sly: Primo, have you ever seen "Deep Throat?"

Primo: What?!

Sly: Your mother and I watched it.

Primo [TMI]

11. Primo brought home a bunch of huge ziplock bags, the gallon sized. We used to have one that we had saved from somewhere but then there was something appealing in it - maybe peaches? - and one of the cats ate the corner off it so it did not serve its primary function as a sealed food storage device any more. We missed that bag. Sure, we could have bought some,  but that seems like cheating.

Do you remember how Sly and Doris, the huge environmentalists - the ones who adopted a manatee, a Florida panther, and a sea turtle for Primo for Christmas a few years ago, were shocked that we use cloth napkins at our house and that we wash and re-use ziplock bags?

Oh don't you be shocked. We don't use them for raw meat. We put cheese and vegetables in them and they are very easy to wash and re-use and it is pure wasteful to throw them out after one use.

But Sly and Doris - who are soooo superior because They Care About the Environment - they use paper napkins and throw away their ziplocks after they have used them once. Primo diverted the gallon bags from the trash and brought them home. Ha.

12. Sly read Elizabeth Warren's book. He said that she might have had a bad childhood, but his was worse. Sly. The bride at every wedding, the corpse at every funeral.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

In which I learn to temper my responses because sometimes the truth is not a good idea

Primo: So my dad may have this new kind of knee replacement where they can do both knees at once and he would be walking again in two days.

What I wanted to say: How can your parents, as committed socialists who are old and in poor health, justify using scarce medical resources? Is health care rationing just for other people?

What I said: Well that would be good. They wouldn't need that much help post surgery.

Primo: I keep asking my mom to stop drinking but she won't.

What I wanted to say: If you lived with your dad, wouldn't you drink, too?

What I said: I'm sorry. That has to be really hard for you.

Primo: They are actually considering getting someone to live in.

What I wanted to say: Yeah. I've only been suggesting that for five years now.

What I said: That would be a great solution to their problem. I hope they find someone.

Primo: Stephanie called. My mom and dad have nothing nice to say about her. They say she is not helpful at all.

What I wanted to say and what I did say: What reason did they ever give her when they still had a legal family relationship with her for her to be loving, loyal, and nice to them? They have been nothing but mean about her and to her.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

In which the hip hop crazy don't stop even when I think I have heard it all

So Primo had to fly to Sly and Doris' on Sunday because Sly was supposed to have surgery this week and Doris cannot manage on her own.

[Which is why they need to be in a retirement community. The back up plan cannot be that Primo drops everything to take care of them. This is the second trip in three months.]

Only on Wednesday, the doctor said oh never mind Sly does not need surgery after all.

In the meantime, Primo is trying to talk to Sly and Doris about their plans and their finances and where is all their paperwork -

[I have a copy of my mom's will, of which I am executor. She asked me to execute her will as a favor. Sly bestowed the responsibility on Primo, telling him it was an honor. I have a key to my mom's safe-deposit box. I have a copy of her medical power of attorney, which grants the power to my sister, who is a nurse practitioner. I know where my mom's paperwork is. I know what the password is on her computer. I am on her bank accounts. My mom rocks. She is prepared.]

- and what are their plans? WHAT ARE THEIR PLANS?

Oh there is a retirement community they think they might like, but they have not had time to visit it yet, what with all their aches and pains and illnesses. But when they are healthier, they will check it out. Really.

Primo has been asking his parents if their every other week cleaning lady would come more often. If she would cook. Do grocery shopping. They don't know. They have never asked her.

The cleaning lady came today, after Doris insisted that Primo help her clean the house in advance of the cleaning lady's arrival.

Oh sure she could come more often. Sure she could cook, she answered when Primo asked her.

But, she suggested, wouldn't it be better if Sly and Doris had someone living in?

  • Primo
  • But with a live-in, you really have to get the right person.8:15am
  • Me
    yeah - not many people would put up with your dad
  • Primo
    Maybe some people like criticism more than you do.
  • Me
    Yes, I am sure I am in the minority
    most people really like being around drunk, negative people who criticize others about their bacon-eating habits
  • Primo
    Because the criticism is offered to help them become better people.
    People are lucky to receive criticism from such an authority.
  • Me
    well, your dad is perfect. who wouldn't want to be like him?

Then Primo informed me that one of his parents cats - Lucy - has fleas. "It took the vet a second to spot them," Primo said.

"They don't treat the cats for fleas?" I asked.

"They actually say that the cats don't go outside because they 'only' go on the screened porch. They have not had regular flea treatments."

Let me explain this to you guys.

Sly and Doris live in the southern part of the US, in a place where it does not get cold enough in the winter to kill fleas. They have a big screened-in patio behind their house. They leave the patio door open all the time and the cats wander in and out of the patio. The patio is attached to the house, but it does not have solid walls. It has screens. Screens let you have most of the advantages of being outside without most of the disadvantages, like mosquitos, although if you are like Sly and Doris, there are huge tears in your screen and you save them for the times your son visits so he has something to do. If there is anything Primo hates, it is relaxing. He would much rather be doing house repairs than almost anything else.

A screen can do amazing things but one thing it cannot do is keep fleas out of a space.

Although perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps the lowly screen can prevent fleas from entering. After all, it is Sly, not I, who is the Smartest Person in the Room.

Yet if that is the case, why does Lucy have fleas?

I don't care if she has fleas. I mean, I care for her sake - she is just an innocent animal, but I don't care if Sly and Doris have fleas.

I don't care if Sly and Doris have fleas in their house.

What I do care about is the possibility that Primo now has fleas in his clothes and in his luggage and once again, Sly and Doris have reached from thousands of miles away to cause drama and hassle in MY LIFE. Their failure to act - a constant theme with them - now means that as soon as Primo is home, we have to wash all of his clothes and isolate his luggage so the fleas do not come into OUR house.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

In which Primo goes to his mom and dad's again for another medical issue - the second trip in two months

Primo is at his mom and dad's again. His dad needs gall bladder surgery. I didn't think Primo had quit his job to spend his time flying back and forth to his parents' place. If they were going to consume his time, he could have kept the job and taken FLMA and kept his benefits.

I don't see how this ends well.

Day 1
It's really bad here. Messy and dirty. My mom had eaten almost nothing today and was tipsy. It appears that they eat only takeout and microwaveable foods other than simple stuff like sandwiches, English muffins, and eggs.
I mentioned that they need to look into Meals on Wheels, and my dad said they've been so busy with doctor's appointments, etc. that they don't have time.
The cats have some kind of skin problem (itching, patchy hair loss).
I'm cranky.
It seems that my mom has lost the will to take care of herself. She needs someone to take care of her, and this week my dad can't do it.

Day 2
  • Primo
    And there's going to be much more going on here. My mom is really not doing well. She does not have any acute condition right now, but she's just not taking care of herself.
    She doesn't eat enough.

  • Me
  • any luck in having serious conversations with them?

  • Primo
    I'm trying. I looked up Meals on Wheels. There is a monthly menu. Most days, they wouldn't eat what is offered. But they may use it occasionally.

  • Me
    what do you mean, they wouldn't eat what's offered?

  • Primo
    There is a lot of bland food like open-faced turkey sandwiches (on white bread, no doubt) with mashed potatoes and gravy.

  • Me
    they would rather have processed frozen food or get takeout?

  • Primo

  • Me
    I guess my opinion doesn't matter

    they eat what they eat

  • Primo
    A couple of days ago, my mom hardly ate at all. There was little food in the fridge when I arrived. My dad had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner, but she didn't want that. She asked him to get some kind of sandwich from Arby's, and he didn't want to go out, so she didn't eat.

  • Me
    this is not a good situation

  • Primo
    They don't have the energy to prepare good food, but they want to be picky eaters.

  • Me
    i still think they should hire someone to come in a few times a week to shop and cook

  • Primo
    There would be about ten levels of resistance to that. I can't see it happening.

  • Me
    what are they going to do, then?

  • Primo
    They don't know anyone. They don't know anyone who knows anyone. [Their cleaning lady]won't refer anyone. What if they pick the wrong person? What if the food isn't good? They don't want to deal with someone coming here.

  • Me
    no, I mean what is their solution?

  • Primo
    They don't have a solution. They just try to get through each day.
    Their days are filled with doctor's appointments and tests. (Each of them has been to the clinic here to have blood drawn a couple of times during the last two months, my dad had his nuclear scan, my mom had her colonoscopy, etc.)

  • Me
    what a mess
    I am sorry, sweetie
    if they were in a retirement place, at least they could take the van to their appointments!

  • Primo
    And they'll need to find new doctors if they move to this place they're possibly going to consider.

  • Me
    well, they don't like their doctors now!
    This is really hard for you
    I am sorry you are having to deal with this
    You have tried so hard to avoid this
    to help them avoid this

  • Primo
    They can afford the place, I think.

  • Me
    they can afford it
  • Primo
    Yes, this is hard for me. Your mom will not put you in such a mess, and you have a brother and a sister.

  • Me
    they are not going to live another 130 years
    no, my mom is very organized
    and is very concerned about not being a burden on others

  • Primo
    My parents don't want to be a burden, but they haven't made (and now probably can't make) enough of an effort to avoid being a burden.

  • Me
    yes, you are right
    my mom has made a lot of effort to make sure she is not a burden

  • Primo
    It is amazing that my dad manages to do what he does. He can hardly move.

  • Me
    and it is really unfair of them to burden you like this
    they are both highly intelligent people
    and I wish they had thought more about the impact of their inaction on you
    I know they love you
    but they have not really thought about you
    and what this means to you
    are they close to making a decision about that place?

  • Primo
    He is relaxed when sitting, but standing up and moving around requires a lot of effort; he breathes heavily whenever he is standing or walking.

  • Me
    I wish they would just hire some help

  • Primo
    No, they've only received the first level of financial information. They need to go and visit the place but haven't had enough of a break from health problems to do so.
    It is a couple of hours away.

  • Me
    oh sheesh
    so what is their plan?
    when are they going?

  • Primo
    They don't have a plan!
    Their "plan" is that they'll pursue it when they are well enough and have time.

  • Me
    well, that's a good plan
    it's worked for them so far
    you're going to be stuck with it, aren't you?
    I am sorry
    this is an awful, awful mess
    and this is not the reason you quit your job!
    If you were going to be spending all your time dealing with your parents, you could have kept your job and taken FLMA leave!

  • Primo
    They spend time each day reading the paper, doing crossword puzzles, reading political stuff online, etc. They look at planning for the future as work they don't want to do. (Just as I don't want to deal with the timeshare because I have to drive it. The girls aren't going to make it easy for me, even though their mom dumped it on me.)

  • Me
    I am sorry
    perhaps they need to know that dumping it all on you is not an option?
    that you will not fly in to save the day?

  • Primo
    They keep thinking that things will get easier after the current round of health problems.

  • Me
    well that is what history teaches us

  • Primo
    Or maybe they're not oblivious enough to actually think that but are just completely overwhelmed by day-to-day life and the health problems.

  • Me
    I don't want this to turn into a disaster
    that is, that you have to fly down there, find a place, and move them
    because they are no longer capable of doing anything

  • Primo
    They have reached the point where obtaining food, eating, dressing, bathing, feeding the cats, cleaning the cat box, and taking out the trash are all they can handle (even with help on the trash from Jack).

  • Primo
    For my mom, going anywhere is a struggle and she doesn't want to get ready to leave the house. I saw this in my grandma not long before she died. I was visiting my grandparents in late 1985, I think, and we went out to a restaurant. Any kind of outing was a struggle, and returning home was a huge relief to her.

  • Me
    they could audition some people
    pay them, of course
    but try some of the people on sitter city
    or maybe the council on the aged has recommendations?
    have someone prepare a meal
    pay them for a day of work - to shop and cook
    and if they like it, well, they hire the person!

  • Primo
    It's not very appealing to have strangers come into the house for that, so they'll avoid it.

  • Me
    then that is their choice
    but the solution is not for you to come
    that cannot be their fallback option

  • Primo
    I wish [their cleaning lady] could recommend someone. (Or would. I'm sure that she knows people, but she won't recommend anyone.)

  • Me
    but it sounds like the recommendation is not the issue
    it's that they don't want someone in their house

  • Primo
    I guess she does not want to be responsible for the results of any recommendations.

  • Primo
    You think in terms of laying out everything that needs to be done to be responsible (and to avoid burdening others) and just doing it.

  • Me
    isn't that the right way to do it?

  • Primo
    They think in terms of doing what must be done (i.e., according to externally-imposed requirements and deadlines).
    My mom has another issue: her good friends are dead. My dad mentioned that he has people he corresponds with, but she really doesn't any more.
    So I should just stay here if I'm all she has, right?

  • Me
    Your poor mom is so lonely
    I feel so bad for her
    Your dad is not always nice to her

  • Primo
    They went to the doctor's office. The doctor who did my mom's colonoscopy will be giving her the results, and my dad will be having his first procedure done by the same doctor tomorrow. He will be admitted to the hospital tomorrow and is expected home on Friday. This is why I had to be here: she can't get by for two days on her own.

  • Me
    I know
    but that is not a long-term solution
    unless you decide you don't want to be married to me any more
    could they ask [their cleaning lady] to come more often, do you think?

  • Primo
    He has postponed his knee replacements (which are apparently much easier to recover from than they used to be) because she can't get by on her own.
  • Primo
    I can talk to my mom about this while my dad is in the hospital, but she always says that he is more resistant to any change.

  • Me
    yes, that does not surprise me

  • Primo
    He'd rather take care of things himself, but that can mean not taking care of himself.

  • Me
    again, your dad cannot think that you are the solution

  • Primo
    Well, he is the solution (as he sees it), but there is no backup plan.
    And they don't look at Jack as someone who can be a backup plan.
    They see him as someone who can give a ride when it's needed or help them with the trash, but not someone who can be here for two days while my dad isn't here.

  • Me
    you cannot be the backup plan
    that is not why you quit your job!

  • Primo
    And he is part of the family but not my mom's son.
    I'm not close to Jack, as you know. I think he has been more of a liability than an asset.

  • Me
    I know. Jack has no responsibility to your mom
    except of course from the restaurant money side
  • Primo
    He caused my parents to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars. (They are also responsible, of course, but he should feel the need to try to make it up to them.)