I go in to work today, my day off, and the phone rings. Who would be calling me at work on my day off?
“Quality, this is Becky.” “Becky, this is your mother.” Oh god!
“Hi mom” I respond cheerfully. The Sales Manager laughs while pointing and walks out of my office. Even strangers fear the wrath of Jeri and he, too, has a mother that is aging.
“I am sick of this fucking Delco battery and I want a new one.”
My siblings and I have always joked about “The wrath of Jeri” which is when Mother gets on a kick like a dog with a bone and won’t give up on it no matter what. And this time it’s a battery. A fucking Delco battery! Her car is seven years old “with less that six thousand miles, don’t forget” I can hear her in my head and she cannot understand why her first battery lasted six years and the second only one.
Last Friday I called to check on her. I try to call my mother every day and yes, I’m a glutton for punishment. She is my mother after all. Last week she told me her anti-locking device quit working. “Why do you think that mom?” “Well, I went out to unlock the car and it wouldn’t unlock with that thing on my key ring, the transmitter, so I had to use the key and the car won’t start. I think there is something wrong with my receiver. Receivers? Transmitters? Uh oh! Mother has been reading the owners manual. She goes on to tell me how she tried to put it in gear and it wouldn’t go into neutral. “That can’t be right mom. Let me come over.” So I drive to Port Hueneme, she greets me with “I hate that fucking car!” “Hello Mother.” I get her keys, listen patiently as she reads to me from the Saturn Manual about synchronizing the anti-locking device, go out to the car and unlock it and the first thing I notice is the dome light is out. “You’re battery is dead mom.” “No,” she is quick to correct me. “I drove it home last night and it was just fine. There is something wrong with the Anti-locking device.” So I read the paragraph from the book where you hold two buttons down, stand on one leg while howling at the full moon until the horn honks and the horn never honks.
So, after I convince her not to call AAA to have that “piece of crap car” towed away we go back inside and I give Saturn a call, explain the situation, the service guy places me on hold thinking I’m an idiot, comes back and tells me “sounds like the battery is dead”. I tell mom “the Service Guy says the battery is probably dead”. “Well,” she says and she is miraculously satisfied. What the fuck? I tell her I will call my husband John and he can come charge it up for her the next day or get her a new one. So we go to the store so she can stock up on food in case I don’t return for days. I go home and the phone rings. “Hello?” “Becky this is your mother. I forgot to buy lottery tickets and if I don’t play my numbers I would just die it they get called tomorrow.” Okay mom, do we need to go now?” “No, tomorrow will be fine. What time is John coming over?” “Early” I say. “How early is early?” she asks. “Somewhere between 5:30 AM and 6:00 AM. Is that okay?” “Alright, you’re sure he’s coming?” “He’ll be there mother.” Suddenly, I need a nap.
Next morning, bright and early the phone rings, “Hello?” “I’ve been thinking.” Mother starts out. Oh god no! “I need a new car” What? “Well, now, just think about it. Your brother always says I think the worst, but listen. The car won’t go into gear with a dead battery. What if there were a fire in the building and I had to push my car out of the garage. It won’t go into gear. Why I couldn’t even get AAA to tow it because how would they fit into the garage? Then we decide (together) that perhaps she didn’t put her foot on the brake while attempting to put the car into gear.
Well, maybe that’s it.
So now a week after my husband has had the battery charged up and she now understand that before she had a maintenance free battery and this time she didn’t so the battery needed water she wants a new battery that doesn’t need water. And she wants to go to Saturn to buy it and she wants me to take her. “You don’t need to go to Saturn to buy a battery, mother. They sell them everywhere.” Well, I know that,” she says, “but, the button on the radio fell off and I want a new one. So I need you to drive me to Saturn to get a new one.” Somehow I manage to convince her that John should go along as he is mechanical. And she is appeased for a while.
I call her later to let her know that John will be by tomorrow and she sounds upset over the phone. “Are you alright mom?” “I guess.” She says. “What’s the matter?” “Do you know what happened to me today?” “No mother, what happened today?” “Well, I went to the mailbox and got my mail and I opened a letter before I realized it wasn’t addressed to me, but it had my address on it (like that somehow makes it legal) and it’s a letter from the library with a check for $19.00 to a young man (how she knows this I have no idea) to reimburse him for a book they said he lost, but apparently they found it now. I called the library. Have you ever called the library?” “No mom, I don’t think I have”. “Well, let me tell you they have one of those machines where you don’t get to talk to a real live person and the first selection is English! Well, that’s ridiculous. All the books in the library are in English. So, I selected English and I had to push about ten buttons before I got some woman’s answering machine, you know, and of course she’s not in due to a family emergency. On a Friday! Well, for Pete’s sake. It said so right on her machine. I left a message and I told her they need to get their act together down there. I have lived here for 12 years and this man does not live here and now I have to spend .39 cents on a fucking stamp. I have a good mind to tear this letter up, but that poor man is out $19.00.” “Mom, why don’t you give the letter and the check to John tomorrow and I can mail it for you?” “Well, I can mail a letter, for Pete’s sake, but why should I be inconvenienced when they screwed up?”
“I don’t know mom.” I sigh.
Nor will my children when it is my turn. And it will be my turn, it’s just a matter of time. Mother isn’t going down without a fight and nor will I so they better start fucking napping now.