Saturday, July 31, 2010

Call Margaret

A couple of years ago a woman was stuck on her boyfriend’s toilet for two years. Stories vary, so I can not say for sure if her ass actually grafted to the seat. Her boyfriend claims she had a phobia about leaving the bathroom, so he brought her food, clothing, and I assume, plenty of toilet paper.
I had, or so I thought, deleted this tid-bit of information from my brain. Until this morning.
My father, who is 84, (You know how old I am? Fuckin, that’s how old, I’m fuckin’ old.) was sitting on the toilet.
It took me about thirty minutes to get him there. He moaned, and groaned with every step he took. The walker clunked, my father moaned. Almost rhythmic, ka-clunk, step, moan, ka-clunk, step, moan. We got stuck at the bathroom doorway. He was insisting he wasn’t going to make the last three steps to the toilet, and to go get the wheelchair. (Which would never, ever be maneuverable in the hallway, much less in the tiny bathroom.) So then he told me I should go call Margaret. Because he was too weak to take another step, and was about to fall/faint backwards. So I should release the Depends wedgie I am giving him to keep him in the upright position, and call my sister on the phone? Now he is beginning to make himself comfortable on my knees – which are beginning to buckle.
“I am NOT about to call Margaret to get your theatrical ass three more baby steps over to the toilet! Cindy!”
Cindy lives here too, and is a huge fan of Hermon’s acting abilities when Margaret isn’t within shouting distance.
Cindy came to my rescue, and told Daddy-o he should lean forward a little more (meaning get the hell off of Liz’s knees) and take those last few steps to the toilet.
Cindy always uses her nice voice. I should try that.
Okay, heavy sigh, he has made it to the toilet and is sitting. While he sits, I take the opportunity to tidy the sink area, and hand him the electric toothbrush.
“Where’s my lap towel? Don’t I have a lap towel?” (And now I know that he has been draping my shower towel on his lap – tucking it under the flap of stomach skin just above the hairline, lest it slip onto the floor, -- while he sits on the toilet brushing his teeth)
I tell him to honk when he is done. His walker is equipped with a bike horn. I throw in a bleach load of laundry. Go back, check dad.
“I missed the Korean war. But I was in the army. Everybody was in the army. I was in the same unit with Dick Clark’s piano player. He wasn’t in there long. Did you ever see that picture of me with my father standing on the veranda in Owego? They sent me away to school when I was ten. And the school put me on a bus, and sent me over to confession. They thought I was Roman Catholic. And I was in this booth, and I told the priest I didn’t know what I was doing there. So he told me to say ten Hail Mary’s, and then asked me if I was Catholic. I told him I thought I was Episcopalian, but I had never been to church.
I never told anyone this before, but I was scared for years that I was going to hell because I wasn’t Catholic. Scared for years. “
He reminisced until about 1960. I would periodically ask if he was ready. Finally, after the story of him and Charlie stealing the church wine (which was cream sherry) he was ready to get off the toilet. He positioned his left hand on the towel rack, and his right hand on the sink. I wrapped my arm up under his armpit, and gave the count of three.
He did the dead weight thing. You know like toddlers do when you go to pick them up, and carry them into bed, and they don’t want to go to bed.
Loud moan. (From Dad, not me.) “Wait a minute, let me just get my feet back an inch.”
I did the count again, and he did the dead weight thing again. He moaned louder, and said he couldn’t do it. He just couldn’t.
I told him he could, and that he needed to use his legs. Another countdown.
“Ahhh God! You can’t lift me. You better call Margaret.”
“Dad, you do not need to be LIFTED off the toilet. Margaret doesn’t LIFT you off the toilet.”
“Where’s Cindy. You better go get Cindy.”
“No. Cindy isn’t here.”
“I know for a fact she is in the backyard with her computer.”
This is where the toilet lady story popped back into my head. And before I could stop myself, I was ranting…
“If you do not use your legs to stand up,… I AM NOT calling Margaret! I will leave you here, and bring food, and changes of clothes. Then I’ll know for sure if the skin of your ass actually grows around the toilet seat!” And then I released my arm from around his pit, and had to sit on the edge of the tub because it struck me as so funny. And I was laughing. Then I said he better get off the toilet because I was about to pee myself.
He stood up, with hardly any help from me and bowed down for a wipe. Had he actually taken a poop after 48 minutes on the toilet? No.
So we’ll do this all over again later. Actually, I think I’ll just call Margaret.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Where in the World is Liz Gaiser?

I’ll be the first to admidt that I am geographically challenged. In other words, I usually don’t know where the hell I am. In my defense, I believe that if Uwe wasn’t so language impaired, I might have a better idea of where I am going. Take, for example, the time Uwe and I were driving up through Italy on our way back to Germany. He asks me if I would like to stop and see Venedig. I ask him where it is. Is it nice?
“Well,” he says, “I suppose it is okay. Perhaps a little bit smelly, but people like to go there. I do not have to see it again. I have seen it. You must take a boat to see it.”
“So, it’s an island, this Venedig?” I ask, not wanting to see a boat EVER again after spending hours on a rocking ferry throwing up.
“No, it is a town, or city, and the busses are boats.”
I am confused. And he doesn’t seem at all interested in stopping, but we do anyways.
And we take the boat/bus into “town”. And he is pointing, and telling me, “And that is a nice bridge people like to take photos of. It has been in movies.”
And I STILL don’t really know where I am until we get off the boat-bus and go past a post card stand with post cards that read Venice. And I stopped and yelled, “Oh My God, I’m in Venice! We are in VENICE? You didn’t tell me this was VENICE!”

And over the years, unless you are talking about the technical aspects of gear grinding. Uwe’s communication skills haven’t improved - He was very excited to be taking us all to Nee-A-Gara Felle. My limited German translated “Felle” to mean either animal skins, or trapping. And Nee-A-Gara, well it sounds a bit Indian. Perhaps we are going to see something in Letchworth State Park. Maybe up near the Mary Jemison Indian cabins. Or, Maybe when I get to Niagara Falls, I will figure it out by myself - without the help of a post card.

Now, the next one happened just a few days ago. Uwe was in India on a business trip. And after a certain number of years of marriage (I don’t know how many) you kind of stop listening. Oh, not all together, you kind-a-sorta listen. Like when the kids come in and out of the room while your on the computer to tell you things.
-Mom, Paddy hit me. --- Ah huh. Okay.
-Mom, lunch is burning ---Okay, that’s nice.
So when Uwe calls and tells me he’s going to see a nice building on the last day of his trip, I say. “Oh, that will be nice.“ (I like to give him complete sentences rather than the standard Ah huh.. Makes it seem like I‘m paying attention.)
And he comes home with souvenir T-shirts for all the kids from the Taj Mahal.
The Taj-F’en-Mahal!
And I’m like - “You said you were going to a castle or something…” And then he says, “You know this Taj Mahal?”
What does he think, I’m stupid or something?
The he tells me that he did mention it was supposed to be one of the “Welt Wunder”.
That must have been one of my shorter “aahh” replies.

I suppose his next trip to China he will stop to see that long stone hedge people make such a fuss about. And him being German, He’ll “wander” the damn thing all the way to the end.