Till the end of time

 another breakfast
with my mother

To briefly recap: For the past several weeks at our Saturday breakfasts, Mom has repeatedly 'invited' me to see the movie Till with her. 'Invited' is in quotes because when you've extended an invitation and the answer was no, but the same invitation keeps coming, it's not really an invitation, is it? It's simply nagging.

Mom has not seen a movie in a theater at least since my father died, thirty years ago. I've never heard her discuss civil rights, and I'm 95% certain that a month ago she wouldn't have known who Emmett Till was. Yet she's been blizzarding me with invitations to see this movie, Till.

Why? Because it's a Christian-themed movie, and it's being pushed in her church.

End of recap.
Today's story begins here: 

After breakfast last Saturday, Mom and Katrina (my sister) went to see Till, so I thought the nagging was over, but Oh me of little faith, no.

On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday of this week, Mom sent increasingly long text messages telling me that Till was so wonderful she was going to see it again this Saturday (today) with my brother Dick, and she wanted me to come.

Since she'd already asked nine times, I answered each text with simply, "No," and knew I'd hear more about it at our once-weekly breakfast this morning.

And indeed, when my mom and sister came into the restaurant, the very first thing Mom said was, "I'm going to see Till again this afternoon, and you're coming with me. I hope." It was a long pause before "I hope," and I'm guessing she saw the annoyance in my eyes.

"No," I said, each of the first three times she 'asked' this morning. I'd answered with a longer, more cordial "No thanks" plus a conversation about it, each of the first three times she'd asked me to see Till, weeks ago. Since then, I've only had one-word answers: "No."

And please note: Despite Mom's habit of telling the same stories and asking the same questions repeatedly, she does not have dementia or Alzheimer's. She has a different disease: Momitosis or something. She expects her children to obey her always, though we're all in our 60s.

When she asked for the fourth time this morning, 16th time all-time, if I'd see Till with her, I said no again, and she added a plaintive and stretched out, "But whyyy not?"

I've given her this slightly longer answer several times to this and other invitations, so I said again: "I like doing things I like to do, and avoid things I don't like to do."

"But whyyy don't you want to see Till?"

"It's one of the things I don't want to do," I said, "and explaining the reasons why I don't want to do something is another thing I don't want to do."

I said it really nice, because Mom loves it when I lose my temper. She looked like she was going to cry, but she did let us change the subject. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

A few minutes later, though, she came back 'round to Till, telling me again how terrific it was, and that she's planning to see it again NEXT Saturday — that'll be her third time — and maybe I'd come then?

"Did you get season tickets?" I asked, and Katrina thought that was hilarious.

"No, but it's so terrific," she said again. "Will you pleeease come with me today, or next Saturday? Your choice!"

"My choice is not to go," I said, but that's not a choice my mother respects, and again she wanted me to explain why I wouldn't go with her to see Till, and again I didn't. 

It's a Jesus movie, and I will never see another Jesus movie, and it's a crime against humanity to hijack the murder of a teenage boy and turn it into a Jesus movie.

That's why I'm not seeing Till, but saying any of that to Mom would've made Jesus the topic for the rest of breakfast plus a week of text messages, so I only said "No," with a smile.

And a second reason I must say no: Breakfast is only an hour, once weekly, and for my own mental health that's all I can afford to give Mom.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Between the Till invitations, Mom and my sister and I talked about a few other things, and that part of breakfast was a nice time with two old ladies I love. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

And then, gesundheit.

Every Saturday at breakfast, after she's eaten most of her meal, Mom has a sneezing fit. Katrina rolls her eyes when it starts, and we both know there'll be 10-15 sneezes over the next few minutes, and every sneeze will be very, very loud.

I've never said anything about it to Mom except, "Bless you." I've never mentioned the sneezes in these write-ups, because nobody sneezes on purpose, and you can't complain about it without sounding like an ass. It's becoming the elephant at the breakfast table, though, and anyway, I am an ass, so here it is: 

Mom sneezes amazingly loudly. It's a dagger through the conversation at our table, and twenty tables away at the other end of the restaurant people jump in their seats, time after time, sneeze after sneeze.

She used to count her sneezes — "That's 8," "That's 9," etc — but Katrina and I have both asked her to stop counting out loud, so she now only announces the total when the sneezing subsides — today, "That's 14. My record remains 17."

Having a hundred people stare at our table every Saturday is even more annoying than the invitations to Till. Away from the table, Katrina and I have talked about Mom's sneezing fits, like maybe it's a health issue and she should see a doctor, but I don't think it is.

Dunno why, but for several years I've always gotten a runny nose after a restaurant breakfast, at around the same time as Mom's sneezes. Sometimes I sneeze a few times, too. It's an old people's thing, I think.

It's the volume that drives us nuts, but Katrina and I are hesitant to ask Mom to sneeze more quietly. If it's beyond her control, the question might be embarrassing. 

But... I can control the volume of my sneezes. When I want to, I can sneeze loud enough to frighten the cat, and when I want to be quiet, I can sneeze so softly that you might not know I've sneezed unless you were watching.

Tell me please, dear anyone reading this: Can you control the volume of your sneezes? Is it possible that my mother can't?

♦ ♦ ♦ 

As we were starting to say our goodbyes this morning, Mom asked me again to go see Till with her today, or maybe next Saturday, or both. Guess what I said?

And then, out of nowhere, she asked how I'd met my wife. Except she didn't ask, she told me: "You met your wife at your job in San Francisco, right?"

Katrina and I were already standing, ready to leave, so I said, "Ah, that's a long story, Mom. We can talk about it next Saturday if you'd like." Then came the extended goodbyes, three-way hugs, and breakfast was over and I walked to the bus stop.

Mom's last question was bizarre, though. My wife and I didn't meet at work, and Mom knows that. She asks at least twice monthly how my wife and I met, and I've told Mom the story a dozen times — and she's told me the story several times.

That's one of the annoying ways Mom makes conversation, by repeating stories you've told her in the past. And she's a good listener; she gets the details right when she's retelling my stories, so she knows that I didn't meet my wife at work.

Why she said it, who can say? Until I die, Mom will always be a hundred mysteries to me.


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  1. I can control the volume of my sneezes, sometimes I even fully suppress them, for example when I'm attending a lecture.

    1. Thank you, and bless you.

      When I stifle a sneeze it hurts my head a little.

      Unless someone tells me they can't sneeze quietly, I think me and sis have gotta mention it to Mom.

  2. A good robust sneeze is better than sex

    1. Uh, you might be sexing wrong.

    2. He might have discovered a better way to sneeze.

    3. Ha ha!

      Claude, teach us to sneeze the right way!

    4. Did I say "sneeze"?

      Of course I meant "snort"

  3. These stories always get me. You mother is crazy, and sneezing is involuntary but loud sneezing is a choice.

    1. Me and my sister have slowed down a lot on blessing her.

    2. Nice answer.

      Family: You can't hate 'em, you can't divorce 'em, you can't very well piss in their mashed potatoes, but they make you crazy just the same.



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