Dysfunctional, But I Love Them

“How can you tell who's calling?”
“Ma, you look on the screen.”
“What screen?”
“The one that is on the receiver of the phone.”
“Do the callers know I can see their number?”
“Not unless you tell them…”
“When will the number display.”

Fancy gadgets and high tech computerized equipment are apart of our lives now. Or is it? For some, they are still living in the dark ages. Most prefer living back in the day where it was just as if you received a wrapped up present from someone, when your phone rang.

“Oh! My phone is ringing! I wonder who could be calling!”

No surprises anymore. We know who’s calling, and if you don’t want to show your number, then we just block your call. Simple as that. The thrill of the phone ringing, has now lost its novelty. We now leave the phone ringing four to five times into our voice mails, because we saw who was calling. It was no surprise, it was just a dreadful thought that we may have picked this phone up, if it weren’t for our caller id.

Do we even utilize the old fashioned phone anymore? We resorted to email communication. No one wants to talk *live* on the phone anymore, they want to just email whenever they get the chance. It’s just easier, and you don’t have to hear them answer you back. And you thought call waiting was rude.

I remember when I got my first laptop years ago. I got sick of the monster PC that was sitting on my very small desk. Wires hanging all over, this huge monitor almost taking up the entire width of the top of the table. Awful. I decided that I needed more room, and I wanted to go anywhere I wanted while I worked. I didn’t want to be chained up to my desk anymore. I would show my mother neat things on the laptop, because I would go downstairs with my new computer and show her movies, let her listen to music and show her how to purchase things online. (That was torture)

“Deb?...Can you bring down your blacktop?”
“You’re blacktop. Bring it down, I want to show your father something.”
“You mean, my laptop??”
I replied, as I uncontrollably laughed at her cute mistake.
“Sure, be right down.”

Don’t even ask me if she uses a VCR---that is now obsolete. I will NOT buy her a DVD. Forget it.

I love the fact that my mother is old fashioned in a sense. She relies on simple things to make her happy. She is not overwhelmed by the amount of emails she gets, or how to reply to them, and she doesn’t get agitated when she can’t find something located on Google’s search engine. Her happiness comes from cooking good food, spending time with family face-to-face, and of course, enjoying a potent cocktail with me.

“Ma, it’s hot in here…Can you put on the a/c?” I ask her, as we’re sitting downstairs talking.
“Yeah, let me get that big stool.”
She walks over to this big stool that sits next to the bar, and climbs on top of it, to reach this fifteen foot high air conditioning unit. Now, I know what you’re thinking...
“WHY don’t YOU do it?”
I am so afraid of heights or climbing up on ladders, I would just faint. Now here’s the tricky part about this scenario. I have asked my mother if I could buy her a new air conditioning unit with a remote control, so that she doesn’t have to climb on this high stool to reach for the stars.

“No. This is a very good air conditioner. I have had this unit for years and it has never let me down.” She says, as she climbs back down from her pedestal.

Now that we have covered our central air controls in the summertime, let’s focus on the winter days. Living in upstate New York can sometimes leave you in the blistering cold of below zero. This is a great opportunity to use your heating sources. We have an oil burner. Red flagged. Yes, an old oil burner that has been red flagged. The repairman came in, and evaluated it for himself.

“I wouldn’t ever use this again, time for a new oil burner.”
“Oh, okay…well thank you for taking a look at it.”
My mother replies.
Off the oil burner repairman goes, and on goes the oil burner as if he had just said it was in perfect condition.

“Did you NOT hear that it was red flagged? We can literally blow up!”

Okay. That’s that. Our other source of heating is the old fashioned and most desirable way to heat your home are the two fireplaces in our home. We usually use the one wood burning stove, so that it can heat the whole house. The problem with this stove is that the smoke blows into the house, not up the chimney. Great. My asthma is also “all in my head”… I fear the smell of wood that originates from downstairs, as they blaze a nice cozy fire. The smoke literally engulfs Madelene and me, as we are trying to relax upstairs. I start coughing like a mule and gasping for air, because my asthma is smoked induced, or sometimes triggered by a simple cold. It gets so bad sometimes that I have to be rushed to the emergency room. Yes, folks know me very well. EMT workers and I go way back.

“Ma! You gotta stop using that stove or get it fixed. Let me get you a new oil burner or have a professional take care of this.”
“There’s nothing wrong with the wood burning stove Debbie. It’s a fireplace, you’re going to smell smoke!”
She says, as if I’m crazy.
“My clothes are literally black from soot!” I said, as I cough my way up the stairs to my apartment.

When all else fails, we have a ton of space heaters to supply us with enough forced air to make you gag. Below zero weather, all sliding glass doors wide open, I try to breath in the crystallized air. Sometimes Mad will run the hot shower for me, so I can breathe in the vapors. Inhalers and piles of steroids for breathing problems are a must in this household; even if you don’t have asthma. Tons of black coffee is prepared for opening up my bronchioles. The summer is a much better time for me. Air conditioning is the best thing. I dread the winter months. I’ve decided that I’m going to live inside a bubble. You can visit me, and use those attached gloves to hand me something, this way I don’t get contaminated air molecules or germs. (For the OCD part)

My parents are my best friends, even though I poke fun at them. I even bring them with me on vacation sometimes. They’re simple people, with big hearts. My mother loves to cook for a large army (our family) and my father is also a great cook. Both of them together spell out, “Anti-Weight Watcher’s”. You cannot be on a diet when you are around them. They won’t have it. “Here Deb, have a meatball.”
“Ma, no thanks, I’m trying to lose a few pounds.”
“But you have to taste this to see if I need to add anything else.”
She says, in this pitiful voice.
“Alright.” I say, as I eat her delicious meatballs that she knows damn well they are incredible.

Meatballs are the heal all. If you have a headache, here, eat a meatball. If you have a pain in your neck, here have a meatball. Even if you have a stomach ache for the love of God—have a meatball! This meatball was touched by Christ! It has to heal! It’s an insult to even decline as she is already serving you one of these puppies.

Sunday afternoons, around 2pm, the whole family still gathers at the dinner table to eat mom’s ‘all day prepared’ food. I try my best to stay upstairs in my apartment when I am trying to be ‘good’. It’s just too tempting! I can’t stay away from my family though, because they’re so much fun to be around. So inevitably, I go down, and spend time with them, which leads into cocktails, which leads into food, which then leads into, “WHY DID I EAT SO MUCH?”

I have to say, that I wouldn’t have it any other way. My mother and father are my best friends, as well as my three older sisters. I’m just grateful I was born into this family, regardless of how many meatballs clog up my arteries. I’ll die happy.