Posted by: Kathy White | July 18, 2010

Mom, Dad, the fly and other family fun

Everybody has family quirks — it just goes with the territory when you say the word “family.” I’m lucky. My parents are both still alive, very much aware and pretty damn funny.

I broke my ankle and immediately my mother wondered how soon they could come visit. There is just something about needing to see the child that is hurt. She can’t fix it but she wants to see me to be sure she can then assess that I’m ok, being taken care of, and, of course, she can bring food and feed me. She is Italian, after all.

So, they arrive at 10am because they’ve been awake since 5am or some ridiculous time and it already feels like noon to them. They even stop in Tracy at a IHOP for breakfast on the way over — which prompts the story of the $7 waffle. And that was the price off the senior menu. My mom was properly outraged as my Dad chuckled over the whole thing. “We will not be going there again,” she announced. I do not doubt this.

We’re all reading various portions of the Sunday paper when I announce that Nelson Mandel turned 92. My mother promptly announces: “That’s too bad.” “What?” I think I’ve misunderstood her. “He’s a bad man. He’s a troublemaker.” I am too stunned to immediately speak. “Mom, do you know what apartheid is and that this man was imprisoned in his own country for 27 years in a tiny little cell.” Mother’s retort: “He was in prison. He must have been a bad man, otherwise why is he in prison?”

I stop the conversation. Some are not worth even having — let alone getting worked up about. These conversations happen regularly and always turn out the same.

We move on to lunch. Raviolis (my favorite), chicken and salad and garlic bread. Yum. Over lunch one fly continues to bother us we dine al fresco. Turns out this is all my parents fault. Little did they know that, in Tracy, a fly hopped in to their car. I’ll let my mother take over from here:

“So, a couple of blocks from here, we let it out. Told it that the Bay area would be a nice place to live. Your father immediately says that’s not true. He would never live in the Bay area. Too crowded. Anyway, this fly must have followed us here and found we were serving good food.” My mother recites all this as if she’s speaking of a long, lost cousin. Hilarious.

In all, just great to see them. They look good. We come from the same household but have totally different takes on life. But that’s ok. We all still love and respect each other.

To finish this, here’s what my mother brought to cheer me up. She brought me a big bag of gifts and each one is marked by Week 1, Week 2, etc. She brought me a gift for every week that I’m going to be recuperating. My first gift was the ballon: Maxine says Eat, Drink and Be Crabby! My second-week gift is the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff..and it’s all small stuff” and she has bookmarked the chapter that says Allow Yourself to be Bored.

It’s complicated. It’s always complicated. It’s family. But for me, they’ve always got my back and they love me. I’m lucky. And I love them, too.


  1. Those damn Tracy flies! Pesky little buggers. Once again, I’m rolling with laughter. Of course it helps that I can picture your mom and hear her voice in my head. You gotta love her!

  2. She’s a hoot, no doubt. I just look at her sometimes and go “what?”

    • I’m just waiting for the day when my kids give me that same look. I do it to my mom now but my turn can’t be that far away…

  3. I love that story wiht the fly! Was it still around this morning for breakfast?

  4. Wait a second…these sound like MY parents: “We will not be going there again.” Must be generational. And maybe regional?

    My folks are midwesterners (Mom – Michigan, Dad – Ohio) and I thank them almost every day for moving to San Francisco in ’66 so I could claim Native Son of the Golden West status (Walnut Creek, circa ’68).

  5. Hillarious! My mother suspects a conspiracy between Comcast, my brother and I- “why we cant save money by having the cable TV signal come through the telephone line?” Wha, Huh???
    Whadeeya gonna do?

    We should throw a party and invite all parents.
    Then stand back and enjoy the show…
    Great YouTube material.

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