Sunday, May 20, 2012

It's all in the name and mother botheration

I have a double barrelled surname. While it hasn't been used for three generations, it is officially recorded at each stage.  My full name is so totally Scottish, yet I am about one quarter Scot, if that.

Mother received a phone call from one of Father's cousins, wanting to know a bit about the dropped part of the double barrelled name. Mother gave her recollection and also referred to some notes I had sent her.

Ok Mother, I will write to the cousin, and write I did with a brief family history of what I understood about the name.

He called Mother back after the receipt of the letter. Mother didn't answer and he left a message. Mother chopped off the message and did not record his number, yet she commanded me to call him. He must have called again, as Mother left a message for me, for goodness sake, call him and stop him calling me.

Well, I wrote to him. It is like the email thing with a friend that I wrote about recently. Why didn't he just write back to me? If I wanted to speak on the phone to my late father's cousin, then I would have rang him.

I was prepared to let it drift, until Mother's rate notice arrived by mail. Her children have agreed to pay her council rates. The rate notice arrives quarterly and in order of birth, each of us pay our share. We received our own rate notice, so I knew Mother's was coming. I forewarned her, it is Sister's turn. Post it directly to her please. What did she do? Post it to me, to pass on to Sister. Aww, your sister was so generous on Mother's Day with her hundred dollar cash gift. She will get cross with me asking for more money. Mother apparently forgets that I also gave her one hundred dollars.

All quite unnecessary as we children agreed to pay her private health insurance, a major appliance that breaks down and needs replacing and her council rates. It is not a matter of Mother asking us. All she needs to do is send the rate notice to the appropriate person. That Sister forgets about Mother's rates arrangement and moans to me is irrelevant.  I have it in writing.

So, I posted on Mother's rate notice to Sister with a bitchy note. I called Father's cousin and an interesting conversation we had.

Meanwhile, Mother has been popped into the freezer for a bit. Petty? Yes. Satisfying? Yes. As R says to me, your mother is terribly naughty.

Look, here is mother a week ago on Mother's Day in her old lady cardy. Butter wouldn't melt in her mouth would it? The poor old pensioner who's children have to supplement her income while we wait for her to decide that she can no longer afford the upkeep on her house or the luxury of feeding stray cats milk that costs more than human milk, for the consumption of.

I feel better now.


  1. What a happy, nice looking mother you have. She looks nothing like I imagined she would from my years of reading your blog.

    Naughty boy!


  2. Oh Victor. Maybe you were travelling.

  3. Wow. I didn't know you had floor to ceiling windows. Nice.
    Speaking of nice, your mother looks very nice also. She is quite pretty really.

    It's funny how some people won't respond to an email but feel the need to call instead. I never answer the phone and so when I receive a phone message I reply with an email. Go figure.

  4. Find out all you can about labyrinthine family history while they're still on deck, HR. Many's the time I've found myself musing "I must ask mum if..." but alas, she's gone.

  5. It sounds like your mother is still doing well and for now you are simply being civilised, caring and grateful and/or loyal children, honouring good values that tell you to do the right thing while sharing the burden. I assume the rates notices are still addressed to her out of respect for her ongoing independence.
    Your mother is a very lucky lady.

    But I sympathise. Half baked messages with bits missing, incorrect phone numbers and so on, especially about things that don't overly interest you all just add to the stress of daily living. Gosh, even junk mail we can ignore adds to the stress. Some days it seems everybody wants something from us.

    It sounds to me like you are in the middle between things your mother wants done and the doing because you are the kind and patient and approachable and possibly efficient child. Let's add to that - no insult intended - the fact you are not what your mother thinks of as the must-be-busy-because-parent child.

    You mother hasn't forgotten the hundred dollars you gave her. She's just aware of what you all do for her and reluctant to sound as though she has expectations of you.

    Not petty, not bitchy, just a human being, and a good one at that. Give yourself a break.

  6. Supporting elderly, dementing parents isn't easy. But worse still, as Leonard Cohen wrote, is:
    "I've seen the future, brother:
    it is murder.

    Things are going to slide ...
    There'll be the breaking of the ancient western code
    Your private life will suddenly explode
    There'll be phantoms".

    In 20 years, that will be us :(

  7. Your mum looks like she'd be a nice person, but then so did my mum....
    One of my kids pays private health insurance for me too, because she knows I can't afford it. My brother helps out too, with offers to pay if I ever need a major appliance replaced, like the fridge or washer.
    You're a good family.

  8. Mother needs new clothes. Her current attire is from an amateur production of Mame.

    You're not a good son.

  9. Well Rubye, not much point having views if you don't have big windows to take advantage of them.

    Lad, I have pretty well, but whether I can remember it all, I am not sure. I should do some writing.

    FC, yes, her bills all go to her. At times I have to remind myself that she never stinted on anything for us when we were kids. Actually, she never stinted for herself either, which is why she has no money now. Thanks.

    Hels, stop scaring me. At least she isn't demented yet, but is inclined to drive others to such a place.

    River, your mum wasn't nice? I recall you writing about your father, but not your mother. Your family sound ok.

    RH, you are such a charmer. You may well be right about my mother, but it is hurtful to hear criticism like that.

  10. You think I was serious?

    Wake up to yourself!

  11. Anonymous8:20 pm

    I empathise, seniors can be so frustrating at times! I have to bite my tongue a lot around my Nan, even around my Dad as he gets older. Though sometimes the biting does not work!

    Our surname was changed from a French one to a Danish one and no one is really sure why. I think it was my great great Grandfather that changed it. Odd.


  12. Fen, sometimes you do have to call them to account when they are being silly. Old people do lose perspective on things, especially if they live alone.

  13. Andrew your Mum looks gorgeous, we used to do the same for my Mum after Dad passed away and I can honestly say with all my heart that I wish she were here and we were still doing it now. Treasure her, she may be frustrating at times, but believe me when she's gone you'll miss her like crazy. All done haha!

  14. Your place is over-furnished.

    So is mine.

  15. She looks pretty spunky for someone her age, but yes, I do know that elderly women in pink can be very dangerous.....

  16. Kath, pinks and mauves, she has always liked them.

  17. Yes Grace, I am sure we will miss her. Sometimes I find it difficult to understand how she can have so many medical problems, yet she is actually quite healthy.

  18. Jesus - your mothers sounds lovely!!! I have five sisters only two of us gave her money and paid bills - the rest didn't give a fig and I have trouble with that even now - she suffered because she hid costs from us. Don was the son in law who made sure she was okay as much as we could and these kindnesses are what made him so special - Keep her in her home as long as she is able to be there - I can't imagine a worse fate than having to leave the place you know just when everything else is leaving you...such as health...
    wish I still had a Mum although when i did there were times as with you!

  19. It is very difficult MC. We can see she needs to move but she won't. She is hopeless with money and always has been. The sale of her house could bring her a better life, but she is very used to her present life and quite likes it.