Last week, Momma Bone shared a little anecdote with me about dialing directory assistance. First of all, I'm pretty sure my mother keeps 411 in business. She dials it more than anyone I know. Come to think of it, she's the only person I know who ever uses it. Anyway, she had gotten some automated message that the system could not process her request.
"So I called back and went Mummummumm," she continued, putting her hand over her mouth as she mumbled the last few syllables.
"Mummummumm?" I asked.
"Yeah, if you do that, a real person will pick up."
I laughed, wondering to myself how Mom figured this out. How long it took her. And what other little tips and tricks she has devised and discovered that I don't know about yet.
I decided that from Mom, I learn the practical things in life, to get me through everyday situations. Things like where's the best public restroom in town; how to bypass the automated system on 411; and maybe most importantly, if a restaurant undercooks your steak, always eat your baked potato before sending it back because they'll bring you a whole new potato after they recook your steak. She'll kill me if she finds out I told that last one.
Meanwhile from Dad, I have learned things about how to survive and preserve myself during times of natural disasters and other dire situations. Things like don't shower during a thunderstorm; the best place to be in a tornado is driving around in the car, despite what every weather person and tornado safety manual ever printed says; and of course, eating more fish will help fight off radiation poisoning in case of a nuclear attack.
Will it? I have no idea, but I probably eat more fish than most land lovers. Also, it wasn't until the last couple of years that I would dare get into a bathtub if it was thundering outside. And I'm still not crazy about the idea.
As he is wont to do, Dad was imparting even more infallible wisdom when he took me out for birthday lunch recently. "Son, I still have the mind of a 16-year-old. It's just the body doesn't want to cooperate anymore."
The mind of a 16-year-old? Really, Dad? Well, at least I come by that honest.
Do you ever wonder how your parents even got this far in life? Sometimes I just shake my head in amazement. Mom still refuses to learn to set a digital watch or the clock in her car. She's never had a mozzarella stick in her life, ever. And she thought Warren Sapp was "The Refrigerator" the whole time he was on Dancing With The Stars, and still does.
Dad called me just tonight to tell me they'd ordered the Bible on mp3, then went on to ask, "How much would an mp3 player cost?" And the whole VCR fad completely came and went without either of them ever learning to program one, I think.
If I asked Dad how he got this far in life, his answer would in all likelihood begin with the phrase, "Well son, when you're this good-looking..."
Both my parents turn 59 this year. For so long, they appeared invincible and always just kinda seemed the same age. Then one day, something happens. Probably not even anything major. Just some little something occurs and it smacks you in the face that suddenly they're twenty years older.
I want them to always be 35. Mom riding her bicycle for miles every Saturday afternoon, taking my sister and me to pick up Mamaw and carry her to town on summer mornings. Dad doing his woodwork out in his shop, reading his encyclopedias and watching the Discovery Channel to learn about thunderstorms and fish and the like. Keeping every sort of harm and danger away from our door. And there never being a problem they couldn't take care of.
When I think about my childhood, that's what I miss the most.
Seeing my parents get older is one of the hardest things about life. Few things get to me like that does. It's one of those things that if it creeps into my mind, I try and push it out immediately. I don't want to think about it.
Some lessons you don't ever want to learn.
"Wish change would just leave well enough alone. Those days are gone now, when Daddy was a strong man and Momma was a blonde..."