Ask Auntie Linda, Straight Talk from a Straight Shooter

Auntie LindaDear Auntie Linda, I retired a couple of years ago.  My elderly mother lives near me. she visits often is way too involved in my life. Every morning she calls to see what I am up.  If I have shopping to do, she often says she’d like to ride along it I don’t object.  If I don’t want to include her, I have to make an excuse.  She comes over several times a week and stays till I tell her I have to get busy.  If I spend time with other family members, she expects to be included.  She throws out broad hints to be included when I plan vacations, but I refuse to invite her if my husband is going, since he’d rather not travel with her.  She wants to stop every couple of hours for a bathroom break and gets another drink so we are always looking for a bathroom.  She wants to stop for a long lunch restaurant.  Needless to say, he doesn’t want to make “old lady” trips.  When I do travel with Mother, I usually bear the total expense since she foster the illusion that I am well-off.  I wish I had maintained more distance since I retired since I don’t want to live and breathe my mother.  She is intrusive and points out outrageously obvious things before I have time to attend to them.  “You forgot to open your mail.” “Your tea-kettle is whistling.”  “The buzzer on you stove just went off.” She is offended when I point out that ” I don’t open the bills since Joe pays them.  That’s his business. “, “I’m on the way to take the kettle(buzzer)off.”  Mother’s mind is not bad.  She’s just too much at home in my business.  She frequently tells me, “I never talked back to my mother, and I am glad now I didn’t” to try to make me feel guilty.  I have to point out my grandmother lived 800 miles away and didn’t get much chance to butt in.  How in the world do I make the message clear?  Harassed Daughter

Dear Harrassed,  Be frank.  When your mom calls, tell her you don’t know what your plans are.  If you don’t have time or interest in having a visit, tell her you don’t have time today, or tell her exactly how long you want company.  When she is intrusive, be frank. Make it clear you’ll invite her when the time is right.  She will be offended, but she probably won’t die from the shock.  If she wants to go to lunch, let her know if you don’t want to pay for hers.  It’s better to set limits than avoid her.  Auntie Linda

Dear Auntie Linda, I have six sisters and one brother.  Our father was a very difficult man.  When we gather at holiday dinners and discuss our lives, as adult children do, my brother insists we are exaggerating in our stories of our lives with Dad.  He tells a much different tale, glorifying my father and ignoring any flaws.  Indeed, my brother was my Dad’s Golden Boy, but Daddy didn’t spare him totally.  Several times my dad became enraged and beat him badly.  Why on earth would he defend him?  Mystified

Dear Mystified, Obviously, your brother created a better past for himself.  There is no point in arguing.   It won’t change anything.  You know the truth.  Auntie Linda

Great Things About Growing Older

Games to Play When We Are Older
Sag, You’re It
Pin the Toupee on the Bald Guy
20 Questions Shouted into Your Good Ear
Kick the Bucket
Red Rover, Red Rover, the Nurse Says Bend Over
Doc Goose
Simon Says Something Incoherent
Hide and Go Pee
Spin the Bottle of Mylanta
Musical Recliners

Wrinkled was not one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up.

The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.

Lying about my age is easier now that I often forget what it is.

I don’t know how I got over the hill without getting to the top.

I don’t do drugs. At my age I get the same effect just standing up fast.

There’s one good thing about growing old. If you watch a movie that you have seen before but you do not remember it, you can watch it like its the first time again!


Fleas Go Home for Christmas, Willie Tharpe, Part 2

imageEven Daddy, determined to be the “Man of the House,” found it hard to defend Willie Tharpe after Willie set the bed on fire, sneaked the dogs in the house, and left us with a maddening infestation of fleas that Christmas. Though he never acknowledged his embarrassment, Daddy never invited Willie to sleep in the house again. Periodically, Willie would drop by for a visit or to see if Daddy had any work for him. Daddy usually scrapped up a job that earned him a few dollars and didn’t qualify as a handout. Willie was way past ninety when I knew him. A Choctaw Indian born in Florida, he told a story of shooting his step-daddy with a shotgun when he was only nine to stop him from beating his mother. The pair hurriedly buried the body. His mama helped him pack a few things in a goat-cart, for his escape. Willie fled Florida, making his way west till he reached Dorcheat Bayou in Northwest Louisiana. Dorcheat looked so much like home, he settled.

He made his living as a mule-skinner, working a team of mules in the timber. He was known for his expertise with a bullwhip. The object of the whip was never to hit animals, just to direct them by cracking it near their heads. Willie Tharpe had made occasional appearances during all during Daddy’s hardscrabble childhood his gifts of game and food earning the family’s everlasting gratitude. Sometimes he’d hang around a few days to fix the roof, butcher a pig, or help put in a crop. Willie Tharpe, with his gifts, fascinating stories, must have been a God-send to Daddy’s family enduring grinding poverty, near-starvation, and hopelessness after his mother was left a widow with seven young children.

Willie lived in the pre-cursor of the RV, a shack he could hoist onto his 1949 Ford Truck and move whenever he chose. The next December, during an ice-storm just before Christmas Daddy decided that he and Billy needed to check on Willie. They found his ancient truck/shack parked on the banks of Dorcheat Bayou. Knowing there wouldn’t be any heat in the shack, he feared finding Willie dead in the twenty degree weather. He strode up and banged on the door of the shack. No answer. He opened the door, a bit and called out, “Hey! Uncle Willie! Are you okay in there?”

“Uhhhh! Come on in!” About a dozen dogs lunged at him from beneath a mass of covers, desperate to get at Daddy and Billy. A naked Willie, waving his trusty shotgun followed them, cursing and swatting the dogs intent of killing the intruder.

Willie struggled into his “overhalls” and other rancid clothes while Daddy made a campfire and coffee. They visited a while. Willie planned to spend Christmas that year with Uncle Albert and Aunt Jewel. Satisfied that Willie hadn’t frozen and had expectations of shelter and hospitality for Christmas, Daddy complacently went on his way. I don’t believe he could have said the same had he tried bringing Willie home for Christmas a second time.

Uncle Albert lived in what would now be called a rustic cabin. Back then, it looked like conglomeration of two old houses it actually was. The front part was log, the back still unfinished graying lumber. The front room was a bed-sitting room with a fireplace whose hearth extended out into the floor. A large bedroom and kitchen completed the house, with the obligatory porch stretching across the front. They drew their water from a well and enjoyed an outdoor toilet. They’d lately upgraded and gotten electrical power, which greatly enhanced their lives. Someone had given them an old TV. It was now the center of their lives.

Willie was ensconced in the living room. He was “down in his back” and chose to sleep sitting up in a rocking chair in front of the dying fire. The dogs specifically invited not to sleep in the house, were unhappily sleeping without Willie, a very upsetting situation for them. They set up a ruckus a few times, requiring Willie to curse loudly at them and pound on the shack.

Hopefully, settled for Christmas Eve, Willie wrapped in his quilt and dozed restlessly in front of the fire, uneasy without the protection of his dogs. Not a great believer in “Peace on Earth,” he’d concealed his pistol handily beneath the quilts. After some time, Uncle Albert and Aunt Jewel, snoring away in their bedroom, were awakened by a hail of blasts. “POW! POW! POW!” Willie was firing at the walls and cursing furiously! His hosts dropped to the floor in their bedroom. Uncle Albert shouted through the door, afraid to come out till the gun was empty.

“Willie! Willie! Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot! You’re in the house! Don’t shoot!” Satisfied Willie was awake, he finally ventured out. The room was a shambles! Bullet peppered the walls and blown out the screen of their precious TV. “What in the hell happened in here, Willie?”

Willie didn’t have a politically bone in his body. “Oh, them G—- Damned %^#$%&*s was a’stealin’ my gas an’ I blowed ‘em to Hell!”