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.
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?