; Cwyn's Death By Tea: Mother ;

Thursday, June 18, 2015


I didn't get my tea review done this week.

But I have excuses! Lately I've been sleeping out on the porch with my sheng crocks. Young people think sleeping outside is a swell idea but the truth is, it's a lot of work. I have never understood the thrill unless the whole point is to pee anywhere you want and give up on bathing. No, I'm in a forced situation at the moment living on my porch because my Former mother-in-law Hildegarde has come to stay for at least a month. Yeppers, Former is past tense and Come to Stay is, alas, present tense.

Facts first. The time period I spent living together with Hildegarde's son was:

A. Limited, and
B. more than 20 years ago. And then we have
C. She has multiple real and actual children to go stay with, including a set of Twins, but
D. She is here at my house instead, and finally
E. She's older than me. By a lot. Which means she's really really old. And she pees even more often than I do which hardly seems possible, but I can assure you it's true. And that means I had to give up my room and sleep on the porch.

Hildegarde lives with my Ex, in a city over 75 miles away which is where she is supposed to be right now. But Dear Ex has decided to head off to the Philippines to meet up with some floozy he met online. He likes Asian girls. I found this out once when he was broke and I let him use my graduate school free ISP addy, and saw the Meet Asian Girls websites pop up under the search bar.

"You can't do that, I could get fired from the university," I told him.

Back in those days the school started cracking down on the "porn at work" types. I wonder if they even bother nowadays.

"Get your own Internet," I said.

So he stopped for awhile in order to continue using my internet. But his interest in Asian Girls persisted. I developed a theory that I made the honorary cut onto the Asian Girl Meter when I was fresh out of the convent, but once with child I got disqualified from the virginal shojo by graduating into the well-seasoned Tiger Mom through very little fault of my own. And now you know what-all went down in that relationship. So it is that over 20 years later I'm required to look after his mother when he's meeting the latest online crush halfway across the world, all the while I'm sleeping out on the porch and re-reading David Hwang's "M. Butterfly."

My Ex and I are actually good friends. Mostly. We met a quarter century ago in an orchestra, where I was playing viola semi-professionally, and he played cello. Divinely. So there you have it. The relationship cost me the viola, no way my screechy weedy musical talent could survive next to a massive and lush magnolia cello talent. And even if mine had barely scraped on by, the final trampling underfoot would have trooped in later with our son's must-be-illegal-it's-beyond-unfair bassoon prodigy, and his scholarships to Aspen and Brevard. By then I was making a career in the theatre instead, and either I had a show, or the Ex had a concert, and one of us always had something going on. He and his mother still come over for holidays. I get to cook and wait on everyone.

The first thing Hildegarde says when she arrives: "I'll be drinking my own instant coffee and heating the water on the stove," which is code for "I'm not drinking that moldy basement tea you drink and I won't be using that Japanese water heater." I had to move out of my room since the spare rooms are upstairs and she can't climb up there. I can't climb up there either so that leaves me with the porch futon. And also huge worries for the tea budget. Now, Hildegarde has other children she could go stay with who have brilliant jobs, large houses and money. So why did she need to come stay with me, an old lady whose two nickels go to tea instead of food when possible?

"I can't carry on a conversation with my other children, " she says. "Half of them are Republicans."

None of this answers the issues around my tea budget after I am required to buy and install a shower bar over the tub.

"I'll take care of everything," my Ex said. He didn't.

Luckily I manage to barge into the Senior Center to successfully coerce a borrowed clip-on tub handle so that defrayed my costs somewhat. But that still leaves the question of where I'm going to get all that food she needs.

"I don't have any money until the end of the month," Hilde states firmly.

I double-check with my Ex.

"It's wrong," he tells me. "She doesn't have any money until the beginning of next month."

Swell, and she uses a lot of toilet paper too. Two days later we've also gone through 2 1/2 rolls of paper towels. My career as a Tea Speaker and Writer is getting more flimsy by the hour and I'm afraid to go and smell my mattress. Her idea of bladder control pads is to steal the blue squares from the doctor's office examination table and cut them up into pieces which fall out on the floor when she walks.

"I drink soy milk, not almond milk," is a typical response to queries about toilet-ing and a dig at what's in the fridge too in the very same sentence. "And I don't think that chair you put in the bathtub is going to work."

Had to move my teaware to the living room.
Even worse, she doesn't get around too good. Arthritis, bad feet, pacemaker, the list is long but after comparing medications I note with satisfaction that my list of meds is longer, hence I outdo her on one thing at least. Another thing, she needs a cane and preferably a rolling walker with a seat but she refuses to use any of these. I've tried explaining all the perks you get with using a cane or an even more obvious walker and what I get for my time on this issue is a change of subject. But so far I've tricked her into using the cane by bringing it along and then when I have to carry the shopping bags I make her take the cane, so we've worked that bit out for the moment.

Hildegarde doesn't entirely disapprove of my tea hoarding but she doesn't approve either.

"What do you need all that tea for," she remarks when another 2 kilos of tea samples arrive in the mail. "Where are you going to put it?"

Good question. Luckily I manage to find a couple of stoneware vases I've appropriated for tea but which aren't currently occupied.

"I don't drink much tea," she says. But she will drink it once in awhile. "I like tea bags," she notes pointedly when I'm crocking up my new acquisitions. Of course.

Aside from all this, we don't have much more to talk about that we haven't talked about a gazillion times over the past twenty years. I've made sure she's heard all my grievances on her son and she makes sure I've heard hers. My Ex is tired of both of us but with him in the Philippines, his vote no longer counts.

"I can't stand dirty dishes," she says. She wants the dishes done three times a day.

"The dish soap makes my hands break out," I counter.

"Not me," she replies. And proceeds to do the dishes anyway and then doesn't know where to put the half dry ones from earlier.

"I'll put them away later, once a day," I have better things to do like playing my Xbox. I'm not going to sit in front of the TV the rest of the day like she does.

"You should do these Word Search puzzles," yet more advice. These are "find and circle the word" puzzle books. I had to walk nearly 3 blocks in blazing heat to get her one of those books, since she couldn't be bothered to bring any from home.

Okay I think I've griped enough. A year ago my own Jewish mother passed away, a good 10 years younger than my German mother-in-law. I loved my mother deeply, but she didn't have much more than a passing interest in my life and wasn't around for the entire time my son was growing up. Whereas my mother-in-law helped raise him, and takes the time to carp at me about my health, when my own mother was too busy looking for young men to go out with. Yes, I am fond of my mother-in-law. I just need to remember that a million times a day for the next three weeks and hope my back holds out.

Requiescat in Pace.

1 comment:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUUnnRqOHkc

    It can always be worse ;)