The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Vicki Sternfeld-Rossi
The Times 

I didn't become my mother... (it's worse)

 

February 11, 2021



When I was in my teens, I was adamant that I would not become my mother. Of course, as I matured, I realized that I would be lucky to be more like her. However, I think life played a joke on me and skipped a generation; instead of my mother, unfortunately, I may have become my grandfather.

I weighed myself this morning and noticed I gained three pounds. I decided to move the scale an inch to one side, and I lost one pound, so then another side, a little in front, and boom! Three pounds down. I shuddered as I realized I am becoming my grandfather. That was his system every Sunday morning.

My grandfather was one of nine siblings who were the most rigid, disciplined, persnickety, organized, neat, stubborn, opinionated, and argumentative people EVER! They were intelligent, and well-read, and musical savants.

My sister and I inherited a mix of their traits. She was the neat, organized, and disciplined one, while I was the stubborn, opinionated music lover. My side of our bedroom was messy, and hers was always neat. Needless to say, we had our disagreements, which were amplified when my grandfather moved in with us after my grandmother’s death. I now had another person appalled at my messy lifestyle and not silent about his opinions.

Initially, we were excited to have our grandfather move in with us. Lesson learned; living with people is different from visiting them. He suffered a stroke and was paralyzed on his left side, needing assistance with most daily activities. My parents were his support system, and it took years and a lot of maturity to understand just how dependent he was.

My father helped with most of his physical needs; my mother did the rest. His lifelong rigidity demanded he have breakfast at 8 a.m. sharp, or he would complain of a headache. Lunch was always 12 p.m. sharp, five minutes late, and he complained of nausea from hunger. Dinner had to be at 6 p.m., and he never had anything to eat between meals. After my mother cleared the table and scraped up crumbs, he would point to the one crumb she missed to make sure she cleared that one too.

He would weigh himself every Sunday morning. He enlisted my sister and me to assist him, and we were happy to help initially. But soon, it became a dreaded chore. He would wake us up early by coming into our room while we pretended to be asleep. He would pull on our big toes, and we eventually surrendered and got up. Our job was to move the scale to different places on the floor until he would choose the lowest weight to announce at breakfast.

Besides choosing my best weight by dancing the scale around the floor, I have also become a neat nick. Where Daniel’s philosophy is ‘why make a bed that is just going to be messed up later.’ Every evening he moves the ottoman off-center on the floor while we watch TV, and the first thing in the morning, I move it back. I’m scaring myself.

My sister even commented on my new neat persona. Last week, she called me from her car, extremely stressed. “Rick is teaching himself to cook, and he’s starting with Boeuf Bourguignon,” she vented. ‘The kitchen is a disaster! He’s searing the meat, and there’s grease all over.”

When I sympathized and assured her that I hate messiness too, there was silence, and then “you?” I didn’t dare tell her about my scale dance.

 

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