Keep the parents happy, pick up the phone

by Jack Sawyers

I should have known something was up when my mother said nothing was wrong.

However, as simple as recognizing that it should have been, I failed miserably.

I mean, there are third-graders who realize “nothing” pretty much always means “something,” and anyone who hasn’t grasped this concept by the age of 22 either grew up in a monastery or is lying.

Or, as in my case, is about as intellectually gifted as the neighborhood paste-eater when he first wakes up.

So, when Mom denied an issue, I believed her. It only took about an hour for the phone to ring again, this time with my father on the line.

“Your mother is really upset,” he said.

“But nothing’s wrong,” I said – again with the brilliance I previously mentioned.

Apparently, dear old mammy was feeling a little ignored by her oldest son. Apparently I hadn’t been putting enough effort into letting her know how exactly the same my routine was every week.

Apparently, moms want to know this stuff.

This shocking revelation led me to two things: An evening phone call to smooth things over with the woman who gestated me was essential, and two, having parents is, in itself, a duty.

Sure there’s not many, if any, of us who are financially supporting our parents, or even living near them, but there are some undocumented requirements of being an offspring.

For one, there’s the check-up call – the once-a-day, week or month reminder that yes, you are still alive and yes, so are they.

And then there’s the progress reports. These are generally at semester breaks. But, in some cases, as in mine, they’re bi-weekly.

Honestly, if I never get asked how I’m doing in class again, it may actually be too soon. But I suppose I should be glad a parental unit takes an interest in what I do. There are probably a billion people who would trade me spots faster than I could put my foot in my mouth, I have a funny way of finding the manure in the flower patch.

Someday I may actually have some hardships on account of the two people who took into the world.

This possibility has never taken such a prevalent position in my daily worries as it did recently, when another call from my mother let me in on the disheartening knowledge that my father may have glaucoma.

Glaucoma, as you may have heard, is much more than an excuse to smoke medical marijuana. It is, according to Webster’s Dictionary, “A disease of the eye marked by increased pressure within the eyeball that damages the optic disk and results in a gradual loss of vision and ultimate blindness.”

This was a frightening bit of news, and one that left me with all sorts of questions. Questions like, if the worst-case scenario becomes reality, what will I do? Do I put my aspirations aside and do what my father did in taking care of his aging dad? Or do I chase my own dreams and leave the coping to his other support structure?

Can I honestly turn my back on the situation?

Unfortunately, there are no good answers to these questions. There’s only the hope that they won’t need to be answered too soon, before I get a chance to taste life in the flesh.

When it all comes down, there’s really nothing fun in biting the bullet. It tastes like lead.

So, I take the time I have, and do what I can, and hope for the best.

Oh, and I make sure to call mom occasionally with my lack of news.

She really likes hearing that stuff.