Grandma decided to put a jigsaw puzzle together, so she grabbed the box and poured the pieces out on the table. After a while, she began to get frustrated and called Grandpa.
“George, can you come in here and give me a hand.”
“Honey, what’s wrong?”
“I’m trying to put this puzzle together, but none of the pieces fit.”
“Well, look at the picture on the box and tell me what it looks like.”
“Okay. The background is blue, and there’s a tiger on it.”
“Right. Now let’s put the cornflakes back in the box.”
Mom was not a fan of jigsaw puzzles, so we never had this problem, but she did have problems with her cereal as time went on. I’ve never been one to stand over a hot stove early in the morning, so my family usually starts the day with cereal, coffee and, if I get fancy, a banana or some strawberries. Mom and Dad got up later than we did, so I left the cereal, bowls, spoons and sweetener on the table and let them take care of themselves.
This worked out well for a while, but even that simple task soon became too much for Mom. She sometimes forgot to pour milk into her bowl, and I’d find her crunching on really dry cereal or see her scraping her bowl, trying to get the dry sweetener off the bottom. I encouraged Dad to oversee her breakfast preparation, but I guess he was doing well to see to his own meal.
One day I came in to clean up their post-breakfast mess and found 15 or so empty pink packages lying on the table. She had emptied every package of sweetener into her bowl. Yes, it was time for me to get involved in yet another aspect of her life and help her “put the cornflakes back in the box.”
Returning home from work, the elderly lady was shocked to find her house ransacked and burglarized. She telephoned the police at once and reported the crime. The police dispatcher broadcast the call, and a K-9 unit patrolling nearby was the first to respond. As the officer approached the house with his dog on a leash, the lady ran out on the porch, shuddered at the sight of the cop and his dog, and sat down on the steps. Putting her face in her hands, she burst into tears.
“I come home to find all my possessions stolen. I call the police for help, and what do they do? They send me a BLIND policeman!”
I’ve never experienced a burglary, but Mom and I had a close call when I was in my early teens. Dad worked nights and my older brother Jim was away at college, so Mom and I were home alone. One night she woke me, saying she heard someone scratching on the window screen in her bedroom. We clung to each other, staring at the window, and suddenly a shadow pass across the shade. I called Dad at work, and he called the police. Within minutes we heard a car pull up in front of the house and saw the beams of flashlights as Mesquite’s finest investigated. Then we heard a knock on the door.
“We didn’t find anything, Ma’am, but we’ll have a car drive by here frequently for the rest of the night.”
When Dad got home the next morning, he found us still huddled together under the covers. He immediately went out to investigate and came back in laughing.
“I didn’t find any footprints or anything, but I did find some evidence. There were rat droppings on the window sill.”
A young boy surprised his grandma one morning with a cup of coffee. It definitely wasn’t gourmet quality, but she dutifully smiled and drank it. As she forced down the last sip, she noticed three little green army men in the bottom of the cup.
“What’s this?” she said.
“You know, Grandma,” said the boy. “It’s like on TV. The best part of waking up is soldiers in your cup.”
I’ve never found soldiers in my coffee cup, but when Mom and Dad came to live with us, they were still drinking regular coffee, and David and I drank decaf. That’s how we became a two-pot family and how the coffee wars began. It’s a long story, and I tell it in full in my book, but let me just hit the high points for you.
The first cups of the day were safe, but both men liked to drink coffee all day long, and that’s where the problems started. David had a system where he used the same grounds, adding water throughout the day to keep the pot at least half full. Our pot didn’t have an automatic shut-off, so the coffee continued to “cook” and get stronger as the day went on. Disgusting, right? But it worked for him, except…
Dad’s pot had an automatic shut-off, so after 10 AM, his leftover coffee was cold. Instead of warming it in the microwave, he poured a cup out of David’s pot. Then when David came to get coffee, his pot had dropped below the acceptable level, and my usually low key husband got a little hot under the collar.
There were other issues involved like neatness, but thankfully the war remained a cold one with no shots fired. I used my best peacekeeping skills to make both sides happy, but the skirmish eventually resolved itself when I started making decaf in both pots and both combatants started drinking less coffee.
A young man wanted to do something special for his grandmother, so he decided to take her to a football game. She had never been to one before, but he thought she would enjoy all the noise and excitement. They had great seats on the 50 yard line, and their team won. After the game, he asked how she liked it.
“Oh, it was great,” she said, “especially the tight pants and all the big muscles. But I just don’t understand why they were killing each other over such a trivial thing.”
“What do you mean, Grandma?”
“Well, they flipped a coin, one team got it and then for the rest of the game they kept screaming, ‘Get the quarterback! Get the quarterback!’ I mean, after all, it was only 25 cents.”
On Sunday afternoons, after church and lunch, you could always find Mom and Dad in front of the TV, rooting for the Cowboys. They thought Roger Staubach hung the moon, and they agreed with Don Meredith that Texas Stadium was built with a hole in the roof so God could watch His team.
Mom was never athletic and never cared about any other sport, but she could name the Cowboy players and follow the action on the gridiron. Dad was hard to shop for when it came to gift-giving, but you could always get a smile out of him with a cap or T-shirt decorated with the Cowboy star.
A lot of things changed through the years, but until they moved into assisted living and lost interest in television altogether, they could still be found on Sunday afternoons in front of the TV, rooting for the ‘Boys. They didn’t remember the names of the players, and they fall asleep between touchdowns, but they were always Cowboy fans.