I have made a lot of friends through blogging, and the concern they have expressed because I have not posted lately has been heartwarming. Several have asked about my health. Some have asked about my mental health – but that may have more to do with what I produce when I am blogging than with the fact that I have not been blogging lately. Several have suspected that I have had a dry spell of events worth writing about (which is entirely the case), and have offered to help me out with material. That is how we are achieving this post today!
Ornesta Fruggenbotham, from Iron Ore, Michigan, e-mailed her concern and volunteered an unusual happening in her life. It was so good, I wished it had happened to me (well, almost, but not quite). Ornesta isn’t much of a writer, so if it sounds like my style, that’s because it is one of those as told to stories. Just keep in mind, this is Ornesta’s story about Ornesta’s relatives, not mine.
My husband Bud and I had to attend a funeral a couple of days ago. It was about as enjoyable as plunking our bottoms down in a hornets’ nest, but it was still tons more fun than what happened when we got home. At the door my teenager greeted me with, “Grandma called. She is really upset. She can’t get hold of Uncle Sid.”
Mom sounded very frightened and weepy when I returned her call. “I’ve been trying to reach Sid all afternoon. He was going to mow my lawn, and he didn’t come, and he won’t answer the phone, and I’m so scared!”
“Mom, he’s probably fine. You know he sleeps so soundly that he can’t hear the phone ring sometimes. Getting him to pick up and answer when he’s sleeping is like trying to raise the dead.”
It was the wrong thing to say. She immediately burst into hysterical tears. “That’s what I’m afraid of, that he’s dead!”
You’d have to understand about my brother. He is fifty years old, lives alone, and has TB — trucker’s belly. He is not a trucker, but if having the belly were a requirement for getting the job, he could haul over the road tomorrow. He has a heart condition — brought on by smoking and the trucker’s belly. He doesn’t exactly live alone. He has a dog as big as a Holstein, which is an important part of the story.
My mother wanted Bud and me to run over to Sid’s house and try to raise him from sleep, or the dead, whichever it was. “Mom, calm down. He’s probably fine, but we’ll go see.”
Sid’s truck was in his driveway. His morning paper was still on the front porch, and the curtains were closed. I would keep the curtains closed too, if my place looked like the Munsters lived there, but he is a bachelor, and we make allowances for such creatures. We pounded on the front door to no avail. We pounded on the back door, also to no avail. We could hear a TV talking inside. It started to bother me that the dog as big as a Holstein did not bark.
“Bud, we’ll have to get the key from Mom and find out what’s going on inside.” While Bud faithfully chauffeured me the ten miles to Mom’s house, I made plans for how to best handle the situation. “Bud, how about if we get the key, you come back and find out what’s what, and I’ll stay with Mom and hold her hand to keep her quiet.” Pushing off the bad possibilities on the husband seemed like a good idea right then. Always agreeable, Bud let himself be volunteered for just about anything, including scooping my brother off the floor in little bitty pieces, if necessary.
But then I remembered the dog as big as a Holstein. “Bud, you can’t go back there alone. If you enter the house, the dog will think you are an intruder and will have you for dinner. It’s a BIG dog!” Yup, being a meter reader by trade, Bud could see the wisdom in that. Don’t go burglarizing the house by himself and end up being hamburger for a huge mutt. Yup, it made good sense to him.
We arrived at Mom’s house and delivered the bad news as unbadly as we could express it. My mom was a total basket case. She had probably been in that shape for hours. We piled her into the car and headed back to Sid’s place, while I tried to comfort her. “Mom, let’s just take it one step at a time and not jump to too many conclusions until we get there.”
She agreed to attempt calm, but I heard her praying out loud in the back seat, “Please God, I’ve never had to deal with anything like this before!”
In the front seat, I was mentally praying a few good lines myself, like, “God, this doesn’t look real awful good. Please don’t let Bud get traumatized if he has to shovel Sid out of the bathtub or something.”
“Mom, this is the plan. When we get there and open the door, you call the dog.” (The dog knows her and would not kill her, like it would have attempted to do with the meter reading guy.) “Don’t go in the house. Let Bud go in. Just call the dog out, but you stay outside, too.”
We got there and pounded loudly on the door, and this time the dog set up a mighty yowling inside. (Good. Worst case scenario #1 had not happened. Sid had not murdered the dog on the way to committing suicide.) My mom did not obey orders. When we got the door unlocked she barreled into the kitchen. A male voice sounding suspiciously like Sid’s growled from behind the door, “What in the world are you doing!?” (Double good. We would not be scraping Sid off the bottom of the bathtub. He was obviously still in the land of the living.) I sneaked a look inside from the safety of the great outdoors. The trucker’s belly was peeking out from behind the door in all its naked hairy beauty. Gross.
My mother is rather deaf and did not hear Sid. Even if she could have heard perfectly, she was too far gone in the certainty of one of the aforesaid worst case scenarios to hear Sid talking. She had waddled into the living room by this time, and then back into the kitchen. “HE’S NOT IN THE LIVING ROOM!”
“MOM! He’s standing right in front of you!” She had been looking right at Sid, and had not even seen him. The fictional horror story going on in her mind had completely overrun her natural senses.
I couldn’t stand the rest of the scene, so I stayed outside. I heard her burst into very loud boohooing, and the thought of all 4′ 11″ of her wrapping her short pudgy arms around the naked trucker’s belly was just a bit too much. Meanwhile, Sid was growling like a grizzly bear, “Mom, what in the WORLD is the matter??!!” She proceeded to explain to him that he had suffered a heart attack and was dead on the floor somewhere.
Bud and I let them have their fun for a few minutes before I called, “Is it safe to come in yet?” (I was hoping that by now the trucker’s belly was clothed.) Sid had been sleeping soundly when we had all arrived, so between him still being groggy and Mom still carrying on hysterically, it took awhile for him to comprehend the whole story. He was mortified that Mom had coerced Bud and me into running around the countryside on his account. I untangled most of the story for him, and then Mom attempted to straighten him out about how he’d better answer his phone from now on when she calls.
“Mom, I was dead-tired. I didn’t care about answering the phone. Besides, I’ve got the bell turned off on the bedroom one.” This unwise admission brought on a fresh onslaught of offended elderly Mom-ness.
Mom said not to tell a soul. She said she would feel foolish if her friends found out. But by now, I think everybody in Upper Michigan probably knows. Her phone has been busy ever since. She must be calling all her neighbors to tell them the story.
Or, maybe I should break into her house to make sure she’s all right. That’s what you do, when you can’t reach someone on the phone, isn’t it?
Thanks, Ornesta. I’m glad it happened to you, not me.
(For more Ornesta-related adventures see Simply Ornesta! in the sidebar, under Archives.)