Monday, September 15, 2008


My parents have been retired and living in Florida for 19 years. My sister lives in Chicago. The burbs actually, but it sounds cooler if I say Chicago. My sister makes me look bad all the time because she talks to my parents fairly regularly. A couple times per week on the phone and also a few emails. I try for one time per week on the phone and tend to respond to my mom’s email rather than being proactive.

My dad and I get along great, but he isn’t much of a phone talker. If he answers my call, the conversation usually goes like this:

“Hi Dad, how are you?”


“Yes. How are you doing?”

“Fine. Your mom isn’t home. She is out spending money.”

“Ahh, well tell her I called and have her call me back if she wants.”

“Ok, is everything alright with everyone?”

“Yep, all is well.”

“Ok, I’ll tell her you called. Bye.”

If my mom is home and my dad picks up, it usually goes like this:

“Hi Dad, how are you?”


There is a muffled sound as my dad puts his hand over the mouthpiece and yells, “Ellie! Ellllllllie!! ELLIE! It’s Brett. Pick up the phone!!”

I can hear my dad breathing heavier from yelling at my mom. But he doesn’t say anything. Another phone gets picked up.


“Hi Mom!”

My dad interrupts and says, “Everything okay, everyone alright?”

My mom snips at my dad, “Bill, don’t interrupt.” She pronounces ‘Bill’ as ‘beal.’

“Ok Brett, bye.”

“Bye dad, nice talk.”

And then my mom and I will talk for ten minutes.

Once in awhile my dad will talk for a couple minutes or so. That conversation tends to include Cubs talk, maybe Bears and sometimes he will ask me about work. He always sounds like he is in a hurry to get off the phone. As far as I know, all he does these days is crossword puzzles, some reading, and the bare minimum amount of chores and errands my mom makes him do.

My mom usually fills me in on my sister since I don’t talk to her as much as we should either. And then she tells me about all the social engagements they have going on. Retired people in Florida only have a calendar so they know where the next happy hour and early bird dinner is located. The actual name of the day of the week is utterly unimportant.

Our once per week call is satisfactory for all of us. But if it goes over a week, I usually catch some flack. And I do feel guilty. I love the old folks, but I often think about calling them when it is like midnight their time.

My dad is 79 years old and has been in pretty good health. He had been having a lot of leg and joint pain and finally went in for a hip replacement. They are routine procedures and supposedly safer than knee surgery. My dad has been home for about five days now and is busy rehabbing. My mom has been serving him endlessly, but I’m not sure how different that is from normal operating procedure. I guess the biggest difference is that he isn’t sleeping well.

My sis and I have been worried about both of them, despite the routine nature of the operation and rehab. So we have both been calling. Here is an excerpt from my mom’s email today:

And.....we both appreciate the phone calls but to call every day isn't really necessary. There isn't anything really new going on and you are both so busy, a call once or twice a week is good.

My parents are tired of hearing from us. Cracks me up. And then she adds this gem about my dad:

After I get him settled in tomorrow early afternoon, will make a run to the medical supply store to pick up different stockings for him - no matter how hard I try, cannot get the ones he has on his legs. Have to get a temporary grab bar too. The ladies say it is fine to leave him for a short while if I have him in bed with the phone, water, pee pot and remote.

Stockings? Do you think she means socks? Or does my old man have some weird fetish that I really didn’t want to know about? No matter how hard she tries, she can’t get them on him? Has she tried ropes and pulleys? What about recruiting some neighbors?

And I love how the essentials of mankind’s existence comes down to four things: phone, water, pee pot and remote. Especially while in bed. And who in the world are ‘the ladies?’ Is the pee pot for my dad or the ladies? I don’t know what the grab bar is for either. I’m speculating that has something to do with the bathroom, but if he has a pee pot, why bother?

In an informal survey (I asked about three people), I found that most dads don’t talk on the phone to their adult children much at all. Is this the case for you? And does anyone have a dad that wears stockings? And does anyone recommend a good therapist?


  1. Amusing post. Enjoy the old folk, mine both passed on already. One in 97 and one three years ago. I would give anything to chat to them weekly.
    Enough somberness though (is that a word?) I call my inlaws but all I get is nascar talk and a bunch of coughing from my MIL who smokes more than she speaks.
    Anywho... my mom used to wear "stockings" they were support hose just for the lower leg, helped with circulation. I would guess thats what they are. Grab bar is prolly for the pot, and the bed pot or whatever you called it? Maybe is for when he can't make it to the bathroom? What a good son you are doing research!!! hehe.

  2. The stockings are so that your dad's circulation is being taken care of. So he does not develop a blood clot. Trust me, I'm sure he hates them. He sounds like a normal man in his seventies. All man. And the grab bar is for the bathroom, because a pee pot is not for tuesies. Ever. In no way shape or form.

    I hope all goes well for the family, and I laughed my butt off at the part where your parents did not want to hear from you so often. LOL. They sound like Seinfeld's parents.

  3. Pee Pot. I can't say that word without giggling.
    You're parents sound like they are pretty great.

  4. My Dad was one heck of a talker, but didn't care for phone conversations. He always handed the phone to Mom.

    The stockings are a special (sometimes custom made)kind to aid in circulation.

  5. Well you all are quite the little doctors! Circulation eh? Okay, I should have figured that out. I think I was still laughing with shock that my mom doesn't want us to call so much!

  6. Compression stockings are pretty much like those ace bandages only in tube-sock form if that helps any. Yes, they prevent clots from forming. They make them for the arms as well. Long gloves and the hand portion looks like a sock cast type of deal.

    Dad and I don't do the phone thing. Well, he does now that he's older and retired. I was just never one for the phone. State your business and then end the call. If I could only get him to text it would be even easier. Women have to yammer on and on about details, men have the inane ability to extrapolate an entire conversation from "yup".

  7. Cunning::
    Ok, it's on. Battle of the sexes, huh? Get ready to run crying home to mommy. In one word or less. LOL.

  8. You're lucky. My father – a digital age moron – refuses to get email, much less a computer. Instead, he ringy dingys the old fashioned way. And talks on and on and on. He better leave me boocoo bucks when he passes on because I'll need it to get this crick in my neck fixed.

  9. @cunning: I can hang out with guys at a party for hours and not think of one interesting new tidbit to report back to the wife. She will hang with the gals for twenty minutes and there will be news of some scandal or great debate.

    @karen: Typical woman, picking a fight...

    @moi: My dad doesn't touch the computer either. He is pretty much incommunicado. He has my mom represent him I guess.

    Hey - do you see a color when you think of me?

  10. Yes. You are green – like a Midori cocktail.

  11. Well I was gonna point out the stockings, but I'll shush since most have already mentioned it :p You just wait--you'll get those soon enough. hehe

    My dad was good on the phone. Just because he was always a good talker.

    I was cracking up pretty good that your mom actually had to tell you NOT to call so much. She's too adorable :)

  12. Your dad is probably a perv just like you. Stockings are def for the fetish.

    Call those people anyway. They dont last forever. Better yet, go see them every chance you get. Im not even kidding on this.

    My dad didnt talk, when he did he had a lot to say with few words. Read between the lines.

    Im going to pout now....

  13. looks like someone already told u what the stockings are for

    so, no fetish for your pops

    your mom prolly has to call 'em socks so your dad doesn't get offended.

    they're super important, i hope someone in town helps her find them.

    im so impressed your mom knows how to email.

    my mom is only 51 and she can't even text

    my dad passed, so i can't comment on your question.

    but in general i find dads to be less talkative and more physical than moms.

    what about u, dear B

    ure a stocking wearing, phone screaming, 80 yr old in the making.

    do u talk to your sons often?


  14. Very funny, Brett... Very (un)funny... You are quite the comedian aren't you? LOL.

  15. @bewitching: My mom must have felt guilty. She sent another email to us saying we can call every day if we want. She just thought we are too busy. I am going to call her twice a day now.

    @gargantuan in japan: Takes a perv to know a perv. Although you are a sweet perv. I know - need to never take those old folks for granted.

    @-1-: Don't remind me that I may turn into my dad someday. He is a great guy, but I hope to learn and avoid rather than become.

    One of my favorite things in the world is to talk to my sons. We have amazing conversations. They are my little buddies. I'm enjoying it cuz I know someday they will become surly teens and likely ignore me. Except for when they need money or stockings.

    @karen: *taking a bow, while keeping an eye on you just in case

  16. Once a week is plenty. I've been making more of an effort lately because I usually neglect my parents and don't call them back.

    My dad talks my ear off. My late stepfather, Murph, had IDENTICAL conversations with me that you have with your dad. It made me laugh and remember him fondly to read your blog.

    My mother usually sighs a lot when I call her.


    My dad talks about how he's pissed off the board at work and laughs, and then asks me for the billionth time if the baby daddy will ever move out of Michigan so I can move someplace warm.

  17. My dad does the EXACT same thing. I get a hard time if I don't call or visit (they're 10 mins from me), yet when I call he doesn't want to chit chat more than a few minutes. So funny...

  18. When I call my parents, if my mom answers she immediately says, "Oh, I'll go get your dad." And she'll hand the phone off to him, never to get back on. If my dad answers, we can talk for hours, and he'll never hand the phone off to mom.

    My dad, also in his 70's, a had hip replacement a couple of years ago. After he was pretty much recovered, one of our phone conversations involved him asking me how to use the internet to look up what sexual positions were safe for people with hip replacements!

    I'm glad he's getting into the internet, but that was sort of not the conversation you want to have with your parent! Oy!


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