If you're like most people you have -- or have had -- parents. They're those people who keep you awake at night wondering, "Do I really have proof they're mine?"
My Mom is the kind of person who knows everything that's going on in the world, why it's happening and where it's ultimately going to lead us...which, by the way, isn't a good place. When she's not feeding turkeys or other critters in her yard, she's glued to the news channels, the Internet news providers and several investment forums where rich guys go to plan what they'll do after the Apocalypse. Her hobby is macro-economics. For fun she reads about the IMF. She can tell you which country has how much debt, who owns the IOUs and what's going to happen when the country defaults on the loan. You'd think that with a direct line to information like that from my Mom I'd be in far better financial shape.
I assure her that if I ever get beyond the micro-economic question of whether to buy my clothes at TJ Maxx or Filene's Basement, I'll pay more attention to the global economy.
My Step-Father is a saint. He buys turkey food, gives my Mom the sudoko from the newspaper every morning, and has never once looked her straight in the eye and said, "All of your children are insane." He's a nice, quiet guy...the kind of guy neighbors will tell reporters was "friendly and unassuming" when he climbs to the top of the water tower and demands an end to the Fed. Or just a really good corned beef sandwich.
My Dad, on the other hand, is one of those people who keeps your brain limber by being cagey and clever and completely insane. I have to be intellectually revved up when he calls me every Sunday evening precisely at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time to say, "Hi. Did you read my last email?"
"Uhhh...no. How 'bout you tell me what you wrote?"
And then the fun begins. He lobs a soft one at me. I lob it back. He corrects my French. I tell him he was wrong and that Dame Catherine Jenkins is not really a Dame. He tries to dazzle me with an intricate point of law. I counter immediately with, "Oh, look! A chicken!"
To be honest, my poor ol' Dad has been a little mopey lately because his doctors took an MRI of his heart and they won't tell him what the results are. On the day he had it they said, "You'll have the results on Tuesday."
On Tuesday they said, "You'll have the results tomorrow."
And then on Wednesday they said, "You'll have the results on Thursday."
You get the picture. He's in Canada so I'm thinking they probably ran out of money two weeks ago and need to wait until January to look at the scans and write their report. (The funny thing is that you think I'm kidding!)
So my poor old Dad, who seems to have no symptoms whatsoever, is worried that he's so sick a team of doctors is now sequestered in a Toronto hospital exploring ways of treating his rare and fatal disease.
I've been insisting, "Dad, if you don't have any symptoms, maybe you aren't even sick."
He's offended by the concept. "If I weren't sick, why'd they take the MRI?"
"They said you have a thickening on your heart and they told you they wanted a baseline. Remember?"
"They didn't tell me I wasn't sick."
"But they said if you were, they'd call you right away."
"They don't want to ruin my Christmas."
(My niece who works for Emergency Services very cheerfully told me, "Oh, no...we've got no problem telling people they're dying. We do it all the time." Well, that's a relief...in a sick and twisted sort of way.)
When I realized I couldn't cheer my Dad up with my own Google diagnosis of his condition -- it's on the north side of his heart, so it must be moss -- I tried talking about the holidays.
"So, we'll see you on Boxing Day. Okay? We'll come over to your place."
"No," he said. "You can't do that."
"I'll tell you when I see you."
This is my Dad's way of being mysterious. He does it all the time...and it's a pretty neat way to avoid a topic because I will immediately forget about it. But this time I persisted.
"Geez...we can't come to your place for some mysterious reason and you'll tell me about it later?"
"Yes. I can't talk about it now," he says as if the CIA or Julian Assange were listening to the call and taking notes.
"Okay," I gave in. "But when you're thinking of an excuse why I can't visit, try to think of something selfless and noble...and perhaps even heroic."
He laughed -- ha! ha! -- as he tried very hard to think of something selfless, noble and heroic.
I ended the call with, "See you next week," and, "Mom claims you're not my real father."
Ahhh...parents...ya can't live without 'em! But maybe thanks to the miracle of science, future generations will be able to do so.