"It's just beyond me why you would engage yourself in a conversation, pretending you knew what she was talking about, when you really didn't have the slightest idea." My mother continued on in her chastising monologue towards me.
"I didn't know what to even respond to Mary when she told me of your conversation." Mom said, slowly winding down. "She probably thinks you are on 'the drugs' or something, although she didn't come right out and say it, but I could see she was certainly thinking it about you."
I continued to stare down at the table as my mother had been ranting at me for the past five minutes in regards to a very brief chat I had in passing with one of her prehistoric friends that I ran into at the mall the day before.
The whole stupid story actually started a couple of weeks ago when I was at my folks place for our usual Sunday family dinner.
As we were all enjoying the evening meal, my mother was telling us about one of the old codgers down at the nursing home where she goes each week as a volunteer to read & chat to them. As per usual, I was only half listening (as you can well imagine these stories are so damn boring), but it is a necessary evil to listen to them politely in order to avoid any needless arguments.
Anyway, Mom was rambling on about this old man in his eighties, a Mr. Perez from the Philippines, who has no family left here in Canada and was going to transfer to another old folks home back in his native city of Manila, where he could live out his final few years.
"He has been living in Canada for 25 years now." Mom explained. "And now he has decided he wants to move back to Manila. We are all really going to miss him as he is a true gentlemen and extremely intelligent. He was a school teacher his entire life and even now in his "golden years" he keeps current with all the news and is just a fantastic wealth of information."
"He really brightens up the place and we will all be sad when the paperwork goes through and he moves back down there." Mom continued. "I know it will be good for him to go since he does have friends and family down in the Philippines, but still it will be a sad day for all of us."
That was pretty much all I could recall of that 'riveting conversation'. I am sure there was a great deal more said however, I really could care less so that was pretty much all I am able to remember.
So anyway two days ago I was over at the mall picking up a few things when I ran into one of my mothers friends, Mary Thompson. I was kind of in a bit of a rush and therefore had very little to say to her other than 'hello' however this old biddy seemed to want to talk to me and if it's one thing I have realized in life is you cannot rush the elderly.
"I was just over at your parents house." Mary Thompson advised. "I went to give your mother the news about Mr. Perez."
"Oh is he gone now?" I asked, pretending to sound both knowledgeable on the topic and not completely bored (which btw, I already was & the conversation had barely begun!)
"Unfortunately yes, last night." Mary responded, looking like she was going to cry. "It is a sad time for all of the staff and us volunteers down at the home."
I wanted to just leave the store and get out of there however I knew I needed to pretend I was actually interested in continuing this conversation, otherwise my Mom would hear about it.
"Well I know Mom had mixed emotions when she heard he was going." I responded. "But I think deep down she will be glad knowing he is now finally gone. It's the waiting around that is difficult. Get it over with & go, I say."
Old Mary Thompson just dabbed her eyes with a Kleenex that she had removed from the sleeve of her sweater, similar to that of a magicians trick. She continued to say nothing but would emit the odd sniffle every few seconds.
The silence was extremely uncomfortable, so I continued on trying to comfort this over-emotional old crone.
"Really though he didn't have any friends or family up here from what Mom had mentioned." I continued. "So it is good he is finally gone. No point sticking around here, no use to anyone."
"I imagine that is one way of looking at things." Mary responded in a rather curt tone. "But let me tell you one thing, he was a very nice man and all of us are really going to miss him dearly."
She continued to stand there in silence, not moving. She was looking at me rather strangely now.
"How much longer is this completely pointless conversation going to go on for?" Was all I could think to myself about as I quickly eyed the mall exit and tried to calculate how close I was to being free.
"Well one thing is for sure" I began, trying to lighten up the mood. "Where he's now gone is going to be a lot hotter for him than it is up here - hot as Hell, as they say. HAHA!"
Mary Thompson stared at me for a moment and then suddenly and abruptly turned on her heel and walked away. Not a good bye, not a good day or anything - I mean how rude is that? I could have sworn I heard her call me an 'imbecile' under her breath as she left, but I just attributed the whole thing to her either not liking my racy language (I did say Hell after all, HAHA) or she is half senile. Actually both of these options are plausible in my mind anyway.
So that brings us to today when I was greeted at the front door of my folks place by my mother who was furious, her face like a thundercloud.
She informed me that Mary Thompson had telephoned her about the 'cold, heartless and callous' conversation that I had with her over at the shopping mall in regards to Mr. Perez.
I sat myself down at the kitchen table where Dad was absorbed in reading his newspaper and Mom then demanded me to repeat the conversation I had with Mary, which I have just outlined for you above.
As I finished re-telling the conversation, I looked up and Mom had a horrified look on her face. "Oh my God, you didn't say all that did you?" Was all Mom could respond.
For the first time Dad poked his head up from behind his newspaper to pay attention to what Mom and me had been discussing.
"Of course I said that, Mom." I responded. "I mean I cannot be sure 'word for word' as it was an incredibly dull conversation however that was basically it. What's the problem anyway? Did Mary Thompson object to me using the word "Hell" or something?"
Dad finally interjected muttering "I think that old woman is half loopy anyway. All she does is hang out at the church and that nursing home, bothering people. That would make anyone half loopy, if you ask me."
"Simon" Mom responded harshly. "There is nothing wrong with Mary Thompson. She is as clear headed and active as you or me. It's your son that's made the mistake here."
Mom then went on to explain that it was Mr. LOPEZ who was returning to the Philippines and the person she had been telling us about. Mr. PEREZ was a different gentlemen entirely. He was from Mexico and had been diagnosed with terminal cancer only a short while ago. He passed away during the evening and Mary had kindly come over to my parents place to tell Mom this sad news.
"So you can well imagine how poor Mary felt when she heard you say that I was 'glad that he was finally gone' and 'there was no point in him sticking around here'." Mom explained.
I then realized why Mom appeared to be so angry - especially as I also had said 'Where he's now gone for sure its going to be a lot hotter for him than it is up here - hot as Hell' and then even laughed about it.
In my defence however, I really wasn't listening to the story to begin with. Of course I could not admit to that at this stage. That would only make matters worse, if that was even possible.
"Well the names do sound rather similar." I protested, rather feebly. "Lopez and Perez - they are both very foreign names to me, almost identical to the untrained ear."
"Had you been listening properly, you would know these names are not identical in the least." Mom snapped back, still sounding quite upset.
Dad then unwisely chose this exact moment to pass on some of his own personal advice to me.
"Y'know, boy." Dad began. "Your biggest problem isn't that you weren't listening, it's that you started talking to that 'old crow' Mary Thompson to begin with. Whenever I see her or any other members of the 'God Squad' I high-tail it out of there. Don't need them to get their claws in me. Nothing good can come of it as you are now finding out.
"Simon!" Mom once again said in her same scolding tone. "You're insensitive comments are not welcome here today. You know I volunteer in a lot of groups with Mary, and see her almost every week. How ever should I explain this whole situation to her when I see her tomorrow?"
"Tell her we dropped the boy here on his head when he was a baby." Dad suggested, chuckling a little to himself as he gestured towards me. "Explain to her he has never been the same since - HAHA!"
"Hey Dad" I spoke up in my own defence. "I thought you were on my side over this little misunderstanding?"
"No way boy" Dad replied quickly. "After all these years of marriage, the only side I'm on is my own. A lot safer that way!"
With that statement, Dad tucked his beloved newspaper under his arm and headed towards the front room, now wisely choosing to avoid this conversation any further.
Once Dad left the room I felt it best that I apologize to my Mother for the misunderstanding and causing her all this grief.
"I understand Son." Mom replied softly, no longer sounding upset. "I'll explain everything honestly to Mary and that will be the end of it. Just please in future be a little more careful and either listen more or talk less. Otherwise you are going to be more like your father, who they all think is rather peculiar since he literally runs away whenever they come over or he sees one of them."
That last line of my mothers really hit home for me. Becoming more like my father in that manner is not a good thing. I will definitely make it a point to listen more closely in future.
Mom always knows the right things to say to get my attention when required!