Saturday, February 02, 2008

Be Careful of that 75th year!

I am typically not one to warn people of impending birthday doom; however, if your 75th birthday is even remotely comparable to my mother’s 75th birthday… you are going to want to plan ahead.

1) Plan ahead to "fake out" your true age.
As my maternal unit approached her 75th birthday, it appeared she wanted to make sure the world didn't "realize" she had reached such a milestone. So, two weeks prior to the birthday she felt she needed to move a microwave and a stand-alone freezer. By. Herself. She did pretty well until she twisted the wrong way on the knee she'd had surgery on. This found her propped up in the bed with a large amount of pillows under her knee and ice packs over her knee. She hobbled along for a few days with a goodly amount of determination that she was "better" and had no need for a physician.

Having finally achieved her walking status, the week prior to her 75th day found her moving a large space heater from one room to another. With. No. Help. This became problematic when she dropped said space heater On. Her. Bad. Knee.

Strike Two. Back to the bed for a few days. Alternating between ice packs and heating pads and swallowing Advil, as if it were the finest chocolate. No plans for medical treatment in her future.

Never let them see you age.

2) Plan ahead to receive pornography on your computer.
Considering that she has recently retired, the maternal unit made a decision to cash in her 401K plan. About two days prior to her 75th birthday, she made an online request for the necessary forms from her 401K provider. So, when she received an email with the subject line "Here's What You Requested" she logically assumed she was receiving her requested forms.

Never assume.

What she received instead is nothing that she has ever requested online before. Namely still photographs of writhing bodies in various stages of ecstasy and completely unclothed. Those artistic works also attached a virus to her computer and now she cannot seem to get away from said writhing bodies. Nor can we seem to remove them from the hard drive. (Attach tacky comment here)

This wasn't the most disturbing of developments for me; rather, my father's interest in said writhing bodies. My father, who is only eight months younger than my mother, never comes near the computer.

"What kind of porn did you get?"

"What do you mean, what kind? It was porn."

"What did it look like?"

"Nekkid people."

"What were they doing?"


"Were they still pictures or was it moving pictures?"

"Still pictures. It was pictures of (_______)"


Thankfully the discussion ended there before I had to intervene with a lecture to my very adult parents. Some things I remain grateful for.

3) Plan ahead for Home Repairs
A 75th milestone is not one to move about with stealth or guile. It will smack you in the head with the reminder that you are not invincible... and neither is your 40 year old home. Gremlins will attack and they may head for the electrical system.

I have warned my parents of the inevitability of our failing electrical system at Casa De Bell for some time now. I said this because we have replaced the roof (thanks to a hail storm), replaced the plumbing (thanks to some frozen pipes), and replaced the heating and cooling system (thanks to the age and condition of the old unit). It only stood to reason that the next phase would be the electrical wiring.

Our home is very old. I believe it was originally built in the 50s. Then, the owner built onto the original structure two more times. We are powered with fuseboxes. Five of them. When we first moved into the house, we went through and mapped out which fuses went to which lines and we keep a piece of paper with notes telling us which fuses operate which rooms, etc.

We replace fuses all the time. We could probably take the amount of money we have spent on fuses for the past twenty years and build another addition on to our home. Or a swimming pool in the back yard. One was never certain what caused the fuse to blow. Perhaps you were running a load of laundry and decided to make a pot of coffee. Or you were watching TV and turned on a lamp. The fuse would blow. There was no rhyme or reason.

So, when the lights in the living room started flickering recently I said that all encompassing phrase: uh-oh. (It stinks to be a prophet, when you know said prophecy is going to cost a lot of money!) We lived with flickering lights for a couple of weeks before we actually lost all power to the living room and kitchen.

On. The. 75th. Birthday.

The maternal unit did not take this latest blow very well. But, she was able to do an internet search (beyond the porn) to find an electrician.

Mr. Sparky.

(Insert bad attempt at humor over the name in light of the recent pornographic material here)
Mr. Sparky is a company that does work on electrical problems for the home. The representative we had was a wonderfully nice fellow who braved hurricane conditions to travel to our home and see what he could do. We had a number of problems, all of which were fixed in a goodly amount of time, and Mr. Sparky left with the intention of returning the next day to give us an estimate on what it would take to bring our electrical system into the 21st century.

It will take a lot. It is taking place even as I type. It will take an electrical crew an entire day to complete. But then we will love life and everyone in and around our circles of influence as the gremlins will have been exorcised back to the pits of hell.

The youngest of the siblings took the 75th celebrant and his two older siblings out to dinner to celebrate. He took us to a Sushi bar/Hibachi grill for good food and relaxation for the maternal unit who was inundated with emotions from having received porn and a large estimate for electrical work. But, all was well with the world as our Grill Master sliced and diced before us.

Until the cell phone rang.

The power was back off at Casa De Bell and Mr. Sparky was nowhere to be found.

But, we have held the gremlins at bay for the past two days. Our freezer was emptied and foodstuffs were taken to the church for storage, and we figured out how to keep the power on in the two affected rooms.

Turn on the stove.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. When the lights and power go out in the living room and kitchen, simply turn the knob of any stove eye and the power will return. For approximately 15 minutes.

Gremlins. You gotta love 'em.

Happy Birthday Mom.


Mary said...

I smile so much in reading about your family adventures. 75 is a milestone when you're as strong as your mama. She's a trooper!

I hope you can publish some of these stories somehow. It's just good reading.

Thad Bentley said...

Hello! I think I was in line with you tonight at the PW book signing. I was the crazy guy there getting a book for my sister in North Carolina. If you get a chance, check out her blog at

If you have any good pictures, I'm sure she would apprecaite them. Me email is