let's not talk about mental illness!

Mother Do You Think They’ll Like the Blog?

Hockey farging shiksa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wouldn’t it be funny if that was the entire post about my mom’s visit?

For those of you who are not intimately familiar with the details of my personal life, my mother recently packed up her entire life; left her northern California home, where she’d been living for over a year; flew to the Northeast with her 20-year old cat and paid a visit to me and my family for 5 days. Oh, I’m sorry, it was SUPPOSED TO BE 5 days. The visit actually turned out to be 5 WEEKS.

Ha. Hahaha. Hahaahahah. haahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahhaha.

I don’t even know where to begin. I don’t want to disparage my mom, because she is easily the most good-hearted person I know. What if she ever finds this blog? (Have I shared this blog with my mother? you’re wondering. Ha. Hahaha. Hahaahahah. haahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahhaha.)

My mom grew up in Liverpool. (To answer your question, No, she never saw The Beatles; She hated them and thought their long hair was “dirty.”) Her older, now widowed sister has been in the throws of dementia and my mom was asked to come back to England and be my aunt’s companion. My mom is definitely in the beginning stages of dementia herself, but she’s not as bad as her sister.

I learned a lot from my mother and in some ways, I’m very much like her (I am NOT my mother; I am NOT. MY MOTHER). She doesn’t have the same level of gutter mouth as I do, but she was always kinda permissive about swearing. In a good way! I think I actually taught my mom some NEW swear words as we were navigating the Boston-to-Cambridge bridge detours on our way to get her a second (in 2013!) emergency passport from the British Consular, with whom we’d already canceled three appointments and where we were now destined to be late for our appointment, which the consular had obviously had to squeeze in during her lunchtime. Ultimately, we did get there before the proper time, only to have the security guard not allow us up into the building BECAUSE I’D PRINTED THE EMAIL WITH ONE OF THE PREVIOUS APPOINTMENTS ON IT and the British Consular was not picking up her phone to tell the guard it was okay to admit us. Ha. Hahaha. Hahaahahah. haahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahhaha.

My mom taught me how to be incredibly organized. Not because SHE was organized, but because I spent my entire childhood never knowing WHERE THE FUCK THE SCISSOR OR TAPE WERE. If you came to my house right now, my tape and scissors would — and will forever — be in the exact same drawers. These organizational skills served me QUITE well when I had to get the appropriate documentation together for my mom’s cat to travel. Oh, did I not mention the cat was going with her to England? Whoops!

So, yeah, my mom was taking the cat to England and my organizational skills helped me 1. find the necessary documentation that was required for a pet’s entry into England (Annex II, for fewer than 5 domestic pets not for sale); 2. have those papers filled out by a USDA-approved veterinarian within 10 days before travel; 3. get the documentation TO the USDA for embossing and then back to us; 4. find out all of the requirements for the cat’s crate; 5. fill out the proper forms for the agency responsible for allowing the cat to enter the UK at the airport in Manchester and then email those forms to England; and 6. get the cat on the same flight as my mom, which required a “pet safe” plane (they travel with cargo) and at LEAST a 3 hour layover (if there was a layover, which there was, because she could only fly out of Boston, because that’s where her rental car had to be returned lest she pay some abhorrent penalty fee). What the fuck was I telling you all this for? OH! Do you get it now? Do you see the organizational skills that were required?

Also from my mom I get my love of driving, a great sense of direction and a love for discovering new places by car. Unfortunately, my mom now gets easily lost. So, I chose to lead her up to Boston. Have you ever led an elder on a highway? Let me tell you the secret: set your cruise control because you’ll never be able to naturally go that slow.

We drove to the hotel first, unpacked the cat, then took the rental car to the airport. Logan. At night. Ha. Hahaha. Hahaahahah. haahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahhaha. On a more positive note, I don’t know the last time YOU returned a rental car, but I had never experienced the return-to-a-parking garage where a the rental car representative has a small hand-held device that he uses to check-in the car, compute the rental fees and then process your payment. Or, as I said to the man, “Wow! I’ve never returned a rental car in the future!”

If you are thinking that we took the shuttle back to the hotel, had a lovely authentic Mexican dinner together, I took a hot tub and a sauna and then we watched a great movie together, I would have to stop you at “lovely authentic Mexican dinner together” (go, Revere!). After that it was continued organizing of luggage, cat’s stuff/food, ohmygawdIdon’tknowwhatelse. Let’s just leave it at “not relaxing.”

I, like the mom, am incredibly cheap. So, it should be no surprise to you that my mother balked when her luggage was going to cost $200 to fly because it was so heavy, even AFTER she’d bought a bathroom scale at CVS to weigh her luggage in the hotel room, and was packing it and weighing it to see if it was too heavy ahead of time and knew it MIGHT be but didn’t think it would be $200-too-heavy. Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, the Very Nice Man at the ticket counter said if she wanted to, she could buy a new piece of luggage, take 20 pounds out of her suitcase, put it in the new bag, and the heavy bag could fly for free while the SECOND bag would cost $100.

Now, my mom was a math major in college. I, too, am good at math and aced three years of college calculus. This was my mom’s math: Having a second bag would be half the cost! This was my math: The place where we have to BUY the new bag IS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TERMINAL. We are already short on time! The second bag is going to cost $30 (what the Very Nice Man told us). $30 + $100 = $130 is only a $70 savings AND WE HAVE TO WALK ALL THE WAY TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TERMINAL AND BACK. Mom’s math won.

So, we walked. All. The way. To the other end. Of the terminal. Found that any decent-sized bag would cost $40, which would only be a $60 savings (told you we were good at math!) and would also mean that once in England, my mother would be lugging around TWO bags, plus the cat’s supplies (Oh! I didn’t mention! The cat had a “bag.” It flew free!) AND the cat’s CRATE (with the cat in it). So then we walked. All. The way. Back. To the other end of  the terminal, where Nice Man ushered us to the front of the line, checked my mom in and took her $200.

Those of you who know air travel would probably know that if you wanted to accompany your mom to the gate, you should ask The Nice Man. I didn’t know this. Instead, at the end of the serpentining security line, I asked The Nice Lady, who apologized and said she could not let me in, but Nice Man would.

My mom’s flight was at 2pm. It’s now about 1:30 (Ha. Hahaha. Hahaahahah. haahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahhaha! I forgot the whole part of the story in which we get lost finding the cargo building where you drop off the cat and where we got stuck behind some wife-abusing ASSHOLE who was shipping 3 puppies to their new owners and had inadvertently put two of the puppies in the wrong crates and had to switch them out, along with all their paperwork and who was being serviced by another Total Dick of a guy, who was actually  — while we were waiting — getting chewed out by his boss, who was THERE, but maybe was on a break, because she was not helping us, but then finally DID help us, and ushered the cat into the cargo area, much like I used to usher the 3-5 year olds into the child care center I was director of in the late 1980s at Bolton Valley ski resort and knew that the kids were Going To Be Just Fine and Having Fun as soon as their parents just LEFT and went skiing, so “Buh-bye, kid!” “Buh-bye, Latte!” and all this bullshit made us kinda late for my mom’s flight.)

So, it’s 1:30pm and I’m worried about time, so I send my mom through security, say “good-bye” in case I miss her at the gate, go back to the ticket counter, get my Special Pass from Very Nice Man, who Leads Me To The Front Of the Serpentining Security line, which would have been great, except I was then stuck in Very Slow Going Through Full Body Scan Security Line, with POWER-TRIPPING CSA agent, who is Making His Security Speech, and when I think is done, begin to Ask Him a Question, to which he responds, “Maybe your question would be answered if you didn’t interrupt me.” To which the boy in front of me says to his sister, “He sounds like a teacher,” to which I look at him and say, “A BAD teacher!” and we smile and all enjoy a “OHMYGAWD we all HATE the bad-teacher-like CSA dickwad” moment, although I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who has the word DICKWAD in my head.

So, the guy finishes his “speech” and I say, because I’m stressed out after 5 weeks of this organizing, good math, slow driving, swearing and cheapness, “CAN I ASK A QUESTION NOW BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T COVER IT IN YOUR SPEECH?!” And the question is actually immaterial now, because mostly I just want you to know How On The Verge I was at this point and — this — I will say, is also a great trait I get from my mom: Saying borderline inappropriate things out loud to people when I am stressed. (The security guard at the British Consulate also took it on the chin when I said, “I DON’T MEAN TO BE A BITCH, BUT YOU NEED TO LET ME UP INTO THAT FRICKIN’ OFFICE!!!”)

I put back on my shoes, my belt, my underwear, whatever it is the FUCK I’ve had to remove for security and run to the gate, where there is no mom, and I’m literally fearing that mom has not been able to find her way to the correct gate. Panic ensues, because — YOU GOT IT! — anxiety and Going to the Worst Possible Outcome are also traits…I GOT FROM MY MOM! Then I hear her voice. Never a happier feeling had been felt (in the last 48 hours).

They call boarding for her flight and my mom says, “Wow! That was fast! We didn’t really have much time.” God love her. We get in line and I ask her what magazines she bought for the flight (which is what she’d been doing when I couldn’t find her) and she says, “I can’t remember,” then she goes to unpack her backpack for probably THE ONE GAGILLIONTH time in the last 2 days and I yell, “NO! NEVERMIND! IT DOESN’T MATTER!!!!” because I’m definitely at the end of being able to watch the unpacking chaos ever again.

My mom hands her ticket to the woman at the gate and before she goes down the walkway, I yell out to all the remaining passengers, “Watch out people! That woman’s trouble!” Everyone laughs, my mom smiles and heads down the jet bridge. I continue to wave her off until I can’t see her anymore and the woman at the gate door says, “Go! You’re going to make me cry!” And I well up a little, because it is my mom. And she’s getting old and showing signs of getting old. And that’s hard. But, in the end, it’s one of the best visits I’ve ever had with her. There was a lot of chaos, but a lot of LOVE too. And that’s awesome.

11 replies »

  1. Cath. Great blog. Based on everything, highly unlikely that your mom would ever see the blog. Anyway..very sweet blog!!! Love dad. today is “hump day” ..second half of our trip starts this afternoon. Kelly has managed to face time the girls a couple of times,which was very cool. Too bad we did not have that technology when you guts were growing up! Anyway..yesterday was museum day..Butterfly museum..and Museum of Music…next time you are in Arizona, plan on a whole day at music museum with the kids. Best museum ever! Love dad

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. i thought this was going to be my favorite part: “after 5 weeks of this organizing, good math, slow driving, swearing and cheapness”

    but it was instead “And I well up a little, because it is my mom. And she’s getting old and showing signs of getting old. And that’s hard.” <—to which i say

    <3 <3 <3

    your family–and all of us–are lucky to have you in our lives!

  3. What Katy said. Awww. You wrapped up 5 weeks of lunacy up with a kiss.

    Did mum and kitty make it to the other side of the pond???

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