Thursday, November 13, 2008

welcome to my evil twin

Yes, I'm barely back and already I'm neglecting this blog almost as much as my scrotal beard. Anyway, the goodies keep coming from the fabulous cesspool that is Deven Green's mind:

I'm on a deadline but back soon, I hope.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

speed dial

I forgot one aspect that kept us laughing through the utterly traumatic experience of losing mum. For about thirty years some man, a co-worker of hers from way back in the 70s, rang her every day. As far as we know, there was nothing untoward going on; mum was this poor guy's only outlet, we presume. The little we know about him is that he's wheelchair-bound, a prisoner in his apartment. So why do we dislike him? If anyone but mum answered the phone, he'd slam it down. No 'Could I speak to your mum, please?', no 'Sorry, I got the wrong number'. Just a click and he'd be gone.

See our problem here? The phone calls continued when mum had already passed away while we were cleaning the apartment. We very much wanted to inform him of the circumstances so he could stop his daily calls, but how? By answering with 'Mum's dead!'? Or 'Mrs X's estate'? The risk of shocking someone else was just too great.

We got a breakthrough a few days after the funeral. I was carrying mum's mobile phone when it rang; someone saved as 'Mr' was calling. I answered; click, he was gone. Finally we had a contact number - mum had saved it after all (we hadn't found it in her many, many address books).

Despite our dislike for him, we wrote a civil text message informing him of the circumstances, and sent it just before my flight back home. My sister later emailed to tell he replied with four empty texts, just before mum's mobile was disconnected. We also disconnected the landline.

I guess he has to find someone else to hang up on now. We're done.

Oh, and for my dear American friends, here is a darling little website with Barracuda recipes. I suspect they'll come in handy from, oh, about tomorrow.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Yes, like your herpes, I'm back.

Where to start? So, mum died. My greatest fear in life happened, it was horrible, but I survived and keep surviving. Dying from the results of two decades of alcoholism is a violent way to die, make no mistake about that. Living with an alcoholic for that long generates a lot of anger, too, which one really needs to let go of at this point in time. I did, even before she passed away. The last few days of her life were full of love - almost a return to to that child-like love for a mother.

(Since this post will be about mum, I have to save my brief stint in jail for another post. Ditto Stickie. Remember all that masturbating I did on that other blog? Stickie is due in March. Kudos me, I made my friend pregnant.)

This really is a long story which I want to keep as short as possible. While mum was in hospital, slowly swelling up from fluid build-up caused by failing heart, liver and kidneys, her breathing sounding more and more like an industrial steam iron from advanced emphysema, her husband was up to something entirely different. His drinking has had somewhat different results. His brain may well be potato mash as dealing with him now is like dealing with a five-year-old. So, five days before mum died, he drove to the local supermarket (despite losing his license some years back) and despite having the cash to pay for it, tried to steal a case of beer. When caught (by the security guard, my niece's beau), he offered not cash but car keys - and the car is very much mum's, not his. While waiting for the police to arrive, he went into insulin shock and was taken to hospital. Had my niece's boyfriend not worked that day, we would have been none the wiser to these events. We promptly rang the husband's son to let him know so he could ring the local hospitals. There are four. A week later we discovered he'd rung none.

A few days later, we went into the apartment, as we suspected there were unpaid bills. Nothing prepared us for what we found. At this point mum had been in hospital for three weeks, and we quickly concluded that in those three weeks, the husband had NOT:
  • picked up the mail or paid any bills
  • done the dishes
  • taken his insulin in any regular manner based on blood sugar measurements
  • flushed the toilet
We also worked out that the last time the place got a good clean was for my high school graduation. In 1994.

Two weeks of cleaning followed, including taking the empty beer cans to the local shop for the refund. The refund is 10 cents per can. We got 35 Euro back. You can do the math. The machine jammed twice. When I went to get the staff, I warned them beforehand that we were dealing with a deceased alcoholic's estate. She laughed, clearly thinking I was joking. When she saw the cans, she thought my brother and I had drunk them. Whatever.

Let me be clear, cleaning the apartment while organising a funeral was exhausting beyond words. We coped with some very dark humour; for all the tears, there were hysterical giggles. And a degree of detachment; one simply couldn't dwell on the fact that this filthy mess was where mum had lived. We approached it on an almost abstract level - as some apartment we were simply assigned to clean. Of course the place was full of reminders. We knew mum was a hoarder, but it quickly became clear that hoarding had developed into a form of mental illness. I don't think that hanging onto all the painful paperwork of two acrimonious divorces did mum any favours. She simply couldn't let go of anything. Like supermarket receipts from 1986 (and every year after that; we had bank statements going back to 1980). Or blueberry jam from 1991 (more on the kitchen in a minute).

It might sound cruel of us to have laughed but it was the only way to cope, for us anyhow. So what prompted the giggles? Here's a partial list:
  • In the walk-in wardrobe/linen cupboard, I found a wasp's nest, a dead butterfly and a pupa of a butterfly, possibly of the same species. The pupa was on a sweater. I also found an empty bottle of Finlandia neatly hidden among the manchester.
  • In the same wardrobe, my brother found a full bottle of vodka. Finder's keepers. Damn.
  • Shoes. And more shoes. Mum generally wore the same three pairs depending on occasion so it was a shock to discover she owned well over a 100 pairs. I sorted them into charity and trash, and we ended with five huge boxes for charity. Ditto with handbags, hosiery (most of it still in original boxes, some going back to the 70s), lingerie.
  • A yellow linen suit I bought for myself in 1994.
  • Literally 1000s of photos which took us two days to sort through in teams. The funny part was matching the photos to the clothes in the wardrobe. Starting with mum's first wedding in 1965, we were able to match clothes to photos with frightening regularity. Including photos of me in the yellow linen suit. It is hopefully being eaten by rats at the local tip as I write.
  • The kitchen... In the freezer, the 'freshest' items were from 2005, including a clear zip lock bag labelled 'Green peas 3 July 2004'. Inside, about twenty peas. It looked more like forensic evidence than food. In the pantry, an open cereal box with a spider web at top, with the spider in the middle. In the fridge, pickled field mushrooms (all pre-2003) and various home-made berry jams. When the lids had corroded and let air in, the berries had mummified into a solid mass that was impossible to get out. Absolutely yums. I should note mum ate very little in the last couple of years and weighed less than 40 kilos (88 pounds) when she passed away. In short, the place was full of food, none of it edible based on use-by-dates. Sort of like preparing for the apocalypse, circa 2000.
  • Pot plants that had clearly given up on life some years ago.
  • 15 years of magazines. The mags? On decorating, gardening, cooking. See above for why we found this funny.
  • The husband's bed (and in a second you will understand why we felt relief in the pair not sharing a bed, or a room): Because of a medication he's on, he gets regular nosebleeds and because of the same medication, the blood doesn't clot. The result: a bed covered in blood (and urine, based on stench). The floor and the curtains also had blood all over them. What likes a mattress covered in blood and urine? Maggots:

Needless to say, we disposed of the bed linen, the mattress and the bed itself. I do wonder if the husband will notice his bed missing if/when he eventually is released from hospital, and if/when he returns to live here (I believe he needs 24-hour care in an institution, a view not shared by his son.)

But enough. The funeral was a beautiful tribute to mum, and in my speech I was sincerely thankful to all she gave to us. Despite all, I've never doubted she absolutely adored us and the grandchildren. Yes, she had kept every birthday and Mother's Day card from each of us.

Mum, like I said when you were dying and I was holding your hand, all is well. There is no anger, and nothing more to worry about. We are all fine, and I hope you've found peace after decades of having little. Thank you for being our mum. We miss you terribly.

PS. At the funeral I cried non-stop but twice nearly broke into hysterical giggles. First, when the heavily medicated husband almost fell on the coffin (medicated so he wouldn't escape from hospital and presumably head for the supermarket to steal more beer), and second, when the pastor said a prayer. It's Deven Green's fault:

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

it's that time

It's been fun posting absolute garbage here for six months, but it has come to an end. I shall email you if I start rambling elsewhere. Thank you for the laughs!