Thursday, June 20, 2013

I remember my mother repeating to me something her Jewish boss once said to her: "A mother can take care of ten children but ten children can't take care of one mother."

I always thought that was a sad commentary on the dysfunction of family life in America. I say sad because as a mother myself, I can't imagine anything more heartbreaking than to spend your life taking care of an ungrateful child. True, that child didn't ask to be born...and many who are crappy people to begin with will throw that up to their parents. Those are the children who will one day have bratty offspring of their own.

Mothers give up a lot for their children. Maybe their careers, their dreams. They do without things they want so Johnny can have a new skateboard he doesn't need. They put aside what they'd like to do to cart Susie to ballet practice or cheerleader camp. They put their life on hold until Johnny and Susie go off to college and even then the chances of those brats dragging home tons of laundry for Mom to do is a good bet.

What brought all this to mind is the plight of a very dear friend of mine. She was born on June 17th a year before me. Since we met at McCoy AFB in 1967 we have religiously sent one another birthday cards and Christmas cards and anniversary cards. She was at St. Joseph's hospital in Tampa when my first son was born and I was at Orange Memorial in Orlando when her first daughter was born. We left Orlando when Tom was sent to Vietnam and her husband was sent to Korea. It would be ten years before we saw one another again and that was in San Diego. By then I had two sons and she had two daughters and four sons. 

Many years later, we wound up together again at Chanute AFB in Rantoul, Illinois and it was as though we'd never spent time apart. We are as close as sisters and if I wasn't at her house, she was at mine. I preferred she come to mine because I couldn't stand being around her crappy children. Truth be told, I disliked every one of them then and I loathe them now that they are grown.

In 1982 Tom was sent to Diego Garcia and her husband retired after thirty years in the Air Force. I moved to Milton, Florida because that was where the Navy was sending Tom when he rotated back to the States. She and her husband moved down to Orlando. Though we were miles and miles apart, we kept in touch through monthly phone calls and the occasional visit. When we moved to Iowa in 1991, the phone calls got longer and longer and our phone bills higher and higher but that was okay. We had a lot of catching up to do.

Her husband passed away in 2006 and mine died in 2009. Tom and I attended her husband's funeral in Florida and she came to Iowa to attend Tommy's. In order to do that, she had to take out a loan against her house to pay for the airplane ticket. I didn't know that until two years later when one of her snotty, crappy brats threw it in my face. He took exception to her 'wasting money on a stupid trip for a silly reason'.

Okay so I will admit to you I used some very unladylike language that day. Those who know me well know I have a vicious temper when truly riled. It takes a lot to anger me but once anger arrives, it don't come in on little cat feet. But at least her youngest son now knows exactly how I feel about him and his siblings and that felt--God forgive me--very good. Did I mention this boy is an orthodontist? That two of his siblings are also doctors? That one is a lawyer? Another is an architect? And the twin boys own their own car dealership?  Yet none of them could loan Mom the money to come to Iowa?

Yes, she did ask and each of them turned her down because they thought it was a 'waste of money on a stupid trip for a silly reason'. Calling my beloved husband's funeral a silly reason makes me want to get on a plane and apply some much needed whupass on those crappy brats.

"Mother could have lost the house because of you," her son had snarled.

She didn't lose the house from that money she borrowed to attend Tommy's funeral. She paid it back. Every last cent. No thanks to her crappy children. Her house has a leaky roof...which isn't being repaired by her crappy children. She has a car that barely runs but she doesn't have the money to fix it and it sure as heck won't be fixed by her crappy children. Buy mom a new car? No, there's no money for that but there was money to buy a condo in Cancun and timeshares in Hawaii.

All of this is leading up the latest thing her six crappy children have--or rather have not--done.

She lost her job when she turned 65 so she's been struggling to make ends meet on just her husband's social security and military pension. Orlando is an expensive place to live and like all of us, she has bills. Thankfully she has military health care because she is diabetic and has been diagnosed with A-fib like me. I've sent her money a couple of times because she needs it more than I do.


Here's why....

Monday was her 66th birthday. I sent her a card with a gift card from Walmart tucked inside and I called her, settling down for at least a good hour's chat. The moment she picked up the phone I could tell she'd been crying. I asked what was wrong and what she told me made me so angry I wanted to put my fist through a wall.  Not a single one of her six kids had called to wish her happy birthday. Not a single one of them sent a card or flowers or a present.  There had been no Mother's Day presents or cards or flowers, eithers. All six of her crappy children live within twenty miles of her but not a one dropped by on Mother's Day or on Monday. As a matter of fact, she hasn't seen any of them since Easter when her youngest grandchild turned 16.

Before you ask if maybe she deserves such treatment, let me assure she does not. This is a woman who never worked a day of her life until her husband died. She was a stay at home mom who went to every piano and dance recital, attended every football, softball, basketball and soccer game. A woman who carted her kids from place to place without a single complaint. In all the years I've known her, I've never heard her use a vulgar word, heard  her curse, or raise her voice. If she has missed a single day of Church in all this time, it's news to me. Though she brought her kids up in the Catholic faith and made sure they went to Mass and CCD, they cut all ties to the religion as soon as they went off to college. Every moral, decent thing she ever tried to teach them vanished at Vanderbilt and Auburn and FSU to be replaced by abortions, drug addiction, drunk driving arrests, and three counts of shoplifting. Nice kids, huh?

BTW: the grandchildren...all nine of them...are no better than their crappy parents. I'd be sincerely surprised if a single one of them ever thanked gramma for THEIR birthday cards and presents. 

No, she has never failed to send cards to her children, children-in-law or grandkids. She might not can afford much in the way of presents but at least she gives them something every year and at Christmas.

I just got off the phone with my dear old friend. She'd called to wish me a happy birthday. As of today, there has still been no cards, flowers, or presents from her children. I look at the hundreds of birthday wishes I've gotten in e-mails and on Facebook and I want to cry. Only one birthday wish went to my friend who does not have the Internet. If she did, I'm sure she'd have received dozens upon dozens of birthday wishes. The folks on Facebook are very good about extending such greetings.

(To all of you who sent birthday wishes to me, thank you from the bottom of my heart.)

And if one of you crappy,  shitty, godforsaken kids is reading this...and I hope you are..Shame on you, you ungrateful, hateful brat and may your crotch get infested with red ants. 

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