Can’t Live Without Them

by Valerie Nusbaum

We can pick our friends, our seats, and, well, our noses, but we can’t pick our families (other than our spouses, of course). Randy and I have had some amusing family encounters recently, and I thought I’d share some of them with you.

There’s a bit of Irish in my family on my dad’s side; but even if there weren’t, we’d still enjoy celebrating St. Patrick’s Day—green shamrock-shaped pancakes and all. It’s been a tradition for years that Mom and I have lunch on St. Patrick’s Day at the Shamrock Restaurant. We love the decorations, the music, and the food, and it doesn’t hurt that everyone is there with the intention of having a good time. Last year, Mom and I invited our cousin, Pat, to join us; and, this year, we gained Pat’s husband, Keith, and Randy.  My hubby had never participated in the celebration because he was always working, but he took some time off to be with us this year and was glad he did. He particularly enjoyed the corned beef, and he even wore his two-foot-tall beer-mug hat.

After lunch, we all came back to our house for dessert. I had made a green coffee cake and shamrock brownies, and served them with green mint chip ice cream. We had a good time and shared lots of memories and laughs.

About a week after that celebration, I was in the kitchen getting things ready for dinner. I’d decided to have baked potatoes, and when I went to my potato bin to get them, I discovered that the bin was full of trash. Huh? Then I recognized some of the wrapping paper from a gift that Mom had given to Pat. Cousin Pat evidently thought my potato bin was a trash can. I’m just glad there was nothing stinky in there!

Not long after that, our nephew, Andrew, came up from Florida for a long weekend. The only thing more entertaining than a Nusbaum man is TWO Nusbaum men. Andrew was here to help his Uncle Randy clean out the garage at Randy’s parents’ house. That small, delicate little boy with the big glasses has grown into a 6’5” strapping linebacker-of-a-man, and we were glad to have his help with all the lifting and carrying. I don’t mean to imply that Andrew ever played football, or even basketball. The athletic prowess of the Nusbaum men runs in other directions. They are outdoorsmen and excel at fishing, hunting, and picnicking.

I went over to the house at lunchtime on Saturday. I’d been assured that the two of them had been hard at work for hours. When I called Randy to ask if Andrew liked sloppy Joes, there was an awful lot of giggling going on; I was happy that they were finding some fun in a rather dismal task. The men were at the landfill when I got to the house, so I went inside and got things ready for lunch. I saw Randy’s truck come up the driveway, and I walked out to the garage to tell them that lunch was ready. I found the pair of them in the garage, each wearing a huge sombrero, playing with toy trucks.

Andrew headed back to Florida with a truckload of stuff and two sombreros. Actually, he was wearing one of them as he waved goodbye.

My husband is the only family member I actually chose. Mostly, I’m glad I married him, but there are some times when all I can do is sigh and get on with it. Randy had to return to the eye doctor’s office three times to repeat one of his tests. His results were always inconclusive, but bordering on something serious.  The technician was thoroughly perturbed with Randy, because he had so much trouble clicking the button when certain lights came into view. It was finally determined that there was nothing seriously wrong with Randy’s eyes. His hand/eye coordination could use some work, though. He also needs to work on concentrating and not letting his mind wander during important life-saving tests.

That leaves my mother. Mom’s landline was out of order. I had been calling her for hours and kept getting a busy signal. This didn’t alarm or surprise me, as Mom has a lot of friends, and she talks on the phone often with her next-door neighbor, even though they live twenty feet apart. When we finally realized that Mom’s phone wasn’t working, Randy called the phone company and reported it. The next morning, I still wasn’t able to reach my mother. She has a cell phone, but doesn’t turn it on unless she’s going to make a long-distance call. I knew that eventually Mom would think it was odd that she hadn’t heard from me, since I check on her several times each day. I hoped that Mom would use her cell phone to call me, so I went and got my own cell phone. I knew that my dear mother would assume that she couldn’t call my landline with her cell. I was right. My cell phone rang shortly after that.

It could be worse.

I’m sending a big shout out to Susan Storer this month. “Susan, thanks so much for your kind words about my columns and for all your help.”

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