By Janet Payne-Downs
I usually visit Michael and company one, maybe two times a year. On my fourth day of visiting, a recurrent phenomenon occurs: We pick a fight. Invariably it is regarding miscommunication, usually because I’m giving him unsolicited, yet well-intentioned advice. After several hours of side-eyeing each other across the room, we eventually let it go, which is difficult for me. Sounds doable, right? Right. Because it’s just a visit. I don’t live there yet.
About a year ago we had all agreed to have a “round table discussion” about expectations when I move to Texas. I think I will call this move My Final Debut. I perched myself on their couch with pen and paper at the ready. Michael and Najla looked at one another as if they would rather set their hair on fire than participate in this discussion with me.
“Just come! We will figure things out as we go,” they said.
I grimaced. “But,” said I, “Surely you guys have opinions. Let’s at least talk about some possibilities that will irk you.”
They look at each other. Nothing.
“We just don’t like these types of conversations,” they pleaded.
I tried to point out some potential situations when I will totally aggravate them. But instead of having a conversation with me about what had just happened, they will wait to discuss it with each other later. I don’t want these resentments to fester so we should discuss them together.
Here is a perfect example of me butting in. Remember their two golden retrievers? Well, the month was July in Texas, and it was easily 175 degrees out, not including the humidity factor. Michael, eldest grandchild, Lura, and myself were going to run several errands.
Before we left, Michael put the dogs outside where there was water and a shaded area for them.
Even so, I said to him in the most diplomatic and non-judgmental voice ever…
“Michael, it’s too hot for them out there.”
“MUTH-ER, they will be ok.”
I felt so sure I was right so I repeated again that it was too hot and they would probably expire. Not only that, I was sure that if I were to call any local animal shelter, they would agree with me.
More daggers and some eye rolling.
We got in the truck. Halfway down the street I said to Michael that I was dizzy, incontinent and coming down with a touch of Ebola and needed to return to the house.
I would call this the last straw.
Screech went the tires, and within no time I jumped out of the truck to rescue Einstein and Chewy from the terrible Texas heat.
I can assure you that this was no small incident. Later that afternoon, after conferring with nine friends and Michael’s half-sister Sheila, it was unanimously pointed out to me that I had insulted my son. As he told me, he has been taking care of these dogs for ten years and they hadn’t died yet.
I sincerely apologized.
Lesson learned … at least this time.
This means that Mrs. Buttinsky will have to go into retirement (or at least take a break) to make this move work.
My next column, “The Weather in Texas!”