So, the great parental hosting of 2016 is over. For twelve days I hosted my mom and dad in my home, that I bought with my own money, and drove them around and played tourist. Here are a few observations.
My dad hates traveling. Hates it. Fortunately, the TSA was not malevolent to them in either direction; then again two elderly people, one with two metal knees and one hobbling due to a stroke are not going to raise alarms. They even got sent through the express lane, so that was nice on them. They love the new car much more than the old car and this approval was stated many times as we were putting around town. He's ecstatic to be back home, but my dad enjoyed being out here with me that he is going to try to come out here again next year. This made me happy.
I cleaned the house knowing that my mom does nothing but watch the home improvement shows. I ordered new bedding, bought some towels that matched and then did something I need to share with you adults who plan on hosting parents like mine. My mom grew up dirt poor, the oldest of seven kids. Middle Class people lived in clean houses, so they cleaned the house nearly religiously while she was growing up. As such, my mom needs to clean. It's annoying and adorable and frustrating. So rather than risking a cleaning of the nerd depository, I left a glaring dirty bathroom to stand out for her to obsess over. And boy, did she. That bathroom is cleaner than it was when I had it put in when I bought the house. I almost don't want to use it for fear of turning it dirty again. If you get nothing out of this remember: 2 parts Blue Dawn Concentrate, 10 parts vinegar, 12 parts water, 2 parts lemon juice (to make it smell pretty, can be skipped). Three applications of this removed every bit of soap-scum and also cleaned the sump pump. So, score one point for the home and garden network shows.
We did do a ton of tourist stuff, sightseeing and history tours. We did, of course, go to a bourbon distiller and get souvenirs. And we did two "short" day long drives to see a bit of the green Kentucky and Ohio countryside.
The eating out took its toll on me and I've gained every single pound I lost when I started getting active again after the accident, and now the gym is going to kick my ass. I'm going to do a bit of fasting and hard-core Keto to get the body back on the program. But we did eat at some neat places. I had a great hamburger and fries and soda near the Duke Campus, and I highly recommend Bull City Burgers. My dad, a diehard shitty beer lover, had a craft beer, AND HE LIKED IT!! The burgers were not bad either, and we even had a fried lemon pound cake with ice-cream and a spicy chocolate sauce. But the thing I really need to share with Hubski is Bob Evans.
We stopped on the ride to Duke to see the uncle at a Bob Evans, a place I had never eaten at before. The parents wanted to sit down at a table and eat something quick and simple and this seemed to fit the bill. Think Denny's but fewer drunks, more rednecks and the median customer age as 70. I've never had food so bland and tasteless at a chain. The food served its purpose in keeping us going on the drive, but the place was depressing and that goes with the people and the area we stopped for food and gas. The restaurant was in West Virginia, and the whole place felt beaten down. There are whole parts of the USA where the world is passing by and whole populations that are being left behind. Even from coming here in Kentucky seeing how run down this part of West Virginia, that was unsettling. The toll roads were well maintained, and the drive itself was beautiful looking at the green, the trees, the mountains. But listening to the waitresses talking you get a hint of despair because the world is passing by places like this in the middle of nowhere Beckley, WV. On the way back I suggested something else and we ended up at a Shoneys, a place I used to eat at when I was driving cross country in the late 80's. I had a mushroom-swiss cheese burger that had no flavor, but at least the onion rings were good. I'm not a food snob at all but it was odd to go to a chain restaurant that makes me long for the horror of Applebees. At both restaurants, other than the staff, I was the youngest person in the place.
The turnpike was well maintained, the tunnels were neat going through Virginia and the countryside was beautiful. Say what ever you want about America, but man there are same damn gorgeous places to go and visit. I was not a big fan of North Carolina (hot muggy, too flat and too may trees to see anything other than canopy) but West Virginia and that small stretch of Virginia we went though both ways made me wish I could have stopped and took the whole site in a bit more. Car travel is cheap in the US, the whole trip cost less than $60 in gas, and the adventurous among you can sleep at rest areas and camp sites as there were tons of them in that part of the Appalachians. The Uncle lives in the Smokeys so I am planning on going to see him next year and need to plot a trip to get more pretty areas on the journey.
Speaking of the reason for this trip, since I sat down to get this together, the uncle got his new heart. While we where there, we got to spend a ton of time in the transplant ward. I cannot say enough good things about the staff there; they were awesome. But for those who have to deal with something like this, the best advice? Shut the fuck up and listen. Laugh at jokes, let the person in the hospital talk, share experiences from the outside. Your visit is not a memorial service; its a moral-boosting healing spell. I saw some other visitors dressed in black and all mopey and sad, and yea, heart ward and some people are not going to make it and all, but at least put up a fight. The uncle is home with a 100% capacity heart after dealing with a 10% or so function for a year or two. He's got 20+ years in him now and is talking about getting well enough to start riding bikes again. Staring death at the face and coming out with a second chance is something not to be messed with. But with him being only 10 years older than I am, I did schedule my physical and am struggling to get back into a gym routine. Hopefully by the time I get the family curse they can grab my stem cells and print me a new heart. But I'd rather not go through this particular set of health care.
Either the second or third day we were at Duke, my mom requested we stop at the store to get cleaning stuffs, laundry soap etc. (see, I told you!) I helped her do laundry and clean the bedding, wipe down the bathroom and make the place neater than we found it. At the store we separated, and as I can back around looking for them, out of the corner of my eye I saw a cute elderly couple hanging on each other. Yea, it was my mom and dad. I sort of creeped around out of sight to watch them for a few moments. 50+ years together and they still like each other. It also hit me a bit harder than I'd like to admit that my mom and dad are both now elderly. They are healthy, and I hope to have them hanging around for another few decades, but still it's sort of glaring to see the people who raised you in that sort of frail, old people context. Though this was only a few seconds, it was the best memory of the whole adventure.
A while back kleinbl00 wrote "I am not my mother.", a post worth reading in this context. I, however, am more like my mother than I really am comfortable with. We both get frustrated when things don't go our way. We are both control freaks, her more than I. We are both particular about our like and dislikes to the point where we clash significantly in that I need four walls and roof, she needs the whole Martha Stewart treatment. She needs to be constantly doing something which is great as it keeps her moving and active, but my hobbies and interests are a bit more sedentary. I got my dad's geek mental set, but I got my mom's personality. And I'm cool with that.
I said it before and I will say it again until you all understand this: There is only one advantage, one privilege you get in this world, and that is the ticket you punch in the birth lottery. You get two parents that stick together, push you as a kid to learn and grow, teach you a moral center and demand excellence? You are probably going to turn out OK. Don't get the good parents? I've seen what that has done to some of the people in my life, and all I can say to you is that friends are the family you choose to be with. Find a good circle of friends and march through hell with them.
And if you got that lucky ticket, tell your parents "thank you" and that you love them; you never know when you will get another chance.