Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day and Night

My mother and father-could two people be more different or have anything less in common? Yes they were both oxygen breathers and drank water but can that be a basis for a happy marriage. My God, my mother would get sick eating Italian food! I think of them and I shake my head. But in their own way they were hilarious. Speaking of water (go back two sentences and pay closer attention). My mother was sitting in the living room eating her supper and watching tv when she asked my brother Richie for "a nice cold glass of water". Big mistake mom. Richie scooped out some stagnant dishwater in a dirty glass and gave it to my mother. She reacted with a display of horrific shock. That's why she was so funny. She had a vast assortment of shocked expressions. There was embarrassed shock when Dr. Mary was driving down main street in Beacon and Richie would hang out the back window trying to grab people on the sidewalk pretending to be severely retarded. She would yell "What are you doing. I'm a respected doctor in this town!" There was "I'm afraid for my life shock" when she decided to give Richie his first driving lesson. She was scared to death in the back seat (back seat?) as we barely moved down South Chestnut street. She screamed, "Help! I'm being bounced around like a ball back here!" I still picture this 250 pound woman holding on to the door handle for dear life contemplating bailing out if the speedometer hit twenty. My personal favorite was angry shock and I had just the right touch to bring this on. If mom asked for a spoon or a napkin I would bring it and hand it to her but only close enough to brush her fingertips. She would grab and lean and at first she would not realize that I was pulling that awful trick again. Maybe you had to be there or know this woman.

My father was just funny-all kinds of funny. He told me my first joke while holding his hand walking to church. "Later on I have to cut our toilet seat in half" dad said. I was stunned. "Why you doing that dad?" and he answered "Because my half ass brother is coming to town." Years later I would love to observe his interactions with the regular customers who frequented his 24 hour restaurant in downtown Danbury, Cn. This massive man would come out of the kitchen to socialize. An old customer totally disgusted with his dripping wet smelly, gross apron the size of a bed sheet said "Sam, why don't you change that apron? and my father answered with a serious face "How am I suppose to keep the soup pot full if I do that?" My favorite was this guy at the counter who was bending his ear to the floor going on and on about ground hogs chewing up his lawn. I kept thinking why was this man bothering my father-the guy is a cook not a landscaper. Dad leaned over and said to him "Why, I can help with that. Get a sign and write on it "No ground hogs allowed" and pound it into the ground. The guy did not know what to think, but I bet he never asked him pest control questions again. I have one memory that stands out-it was our wedding day and sitting side by side at the head table were my parents looking terribly uncomfortable. The death blow was administered by my Aunt Fran, who my mother couldn't stand until she was dying of Alzheimers. She walked by with a sly smile and said, "Look at the two little love birds" . My parents are gone to that promised mansion in heaven and I am sure that their rooms are as far apart as possible, but they left behind a bunch of brothers and sisters and I thank them for that. We are going to have a reunion in the spring and my parents and step mother will be there in the smiles, sarcastic remarks, the shocked expressions, the laughter and the tears. We will sit at the long dining room table and share a bowl of soup along with a nice cold glass of water.

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