Here’s a typical conversation between Bud and Jan:
Bud: I saw Dorothy at the store and she says Hi!
Jan: You know I can’t eat that.
Bud: What do you want to eat?
Jan: Why did you buy pie?
Bud: You want some pie?!? You can’t eat that!
Jan: I don’t want that!
Bud: Well then, why did you say you did?
A variation on this is where I sit in the middle chair and they each sit on a sofa on either side of the 10 foot wide living room and they are each talking to me.
Bud: Your mother doesn’t like it when I go to town. She doesn’t like being left alone anymore.
Jan: I wish Bud would go get some of those summer squash at the farm.
Bud: It makes me nervous thinking about how I’m going to go get groceries this winter. (A trip to the store is a minimum of 2 hours. Usually 3 because Bud plays the lottery and he always hand picks the numbers and laboriously fills out each slip.)
Jan: It makes me nervous when Bud drives after dark and it gets dark so early in the winter.
Me: You both sound like you make each other nervous sometimes…
Jan: She said, "She would be nervous if you were driving, too."
Me: I didn’t say that.
Jan: That’s what I heard.
Bud: (whispering, with humor) Your mother makes stuff up.
Jan: I do not.
There’s a fair amount of yelling that goes on up at Lost Loon Lodge, not because they’re fighting, but because they can’t hear each other. Sometimes it’s clearly selective deafness. Same with my mother’s vision. She complains a lot about losing her vision and worries constantly about when she "will be blind." She has macular degeneration but there is a narrow tunnel in which she sees very well because she says things such as: "Anderson Cooper looks like he got a haircut since yesterday" and, "Bud, there’s a fuzzy over there on the floor."
Bud: "What? You want me to rub your feet some more?" (and a whispered aside to me: "Your mother and her damn fuzzies.")
Jan: "I heard that. Yes, rub my feet."
Recently there was one big bone of contention. This is part of the ongoing saga entitled, "If I go first…" A few weeks ago I wrote about how my mother was chipper during a phone call because she and the neighbors had gone to town to Affordable Funerals, paid their 1,000.00 and made arrangements for cremation within 48 hours of dying. But she was feeling her ongoing irritation with Bud who has long had plans to turn the land into a private cemetery and be buried there at Gratiot Lake. Bud has some really visceral negative response to cremation and although he’s been agreeable with my mother’s wishes he’s been adamant about his plans. My mother has had no spirit of compromise on this, on the grounds that if Bud goes first she’ll be left with the hard task of picking out a casket and making funeral arrangements alone. Which, of course, wouldn’t happen since we would all be there just as fast as Mesaba Airlink can fly.
She badgered and wheedled and fussed and finally Bud caved in, drove to Affordable Funerals and plunked down his 1,000.00 for cremation. While I was up there they both showed me their papers plus my mother had me proof read her obituary. Shades of Six Feet Under.
Then we watched the The McLoughlin Group, Anderson Cooper, Frontline, Hardball and my mother’s new favorite: Iron Chef America. I knit two pairs of socks and a baby sweater, took over the cooking for a couple days and moved summer and winter clothing around in the closets.
Bud and I went out and looked for the eagles and we also found that the snow buntings had arrived en masse. We don’t get these darling birds down here so I was delighted but my mother and Bud point out that for inexplicable reasons they fly into cars and they are, of course, harbingers of winter.
My mother barely gets from room to room without running out of gas and Bud manages to seal the decks, both upstairs and down, repair the chimney all the way and hoist the dock for the winter. He does all the cooking and cleaning and bathing and he is almost always in good and humorous spirits with my mother. His patience knows no bounds.
And so it goes. They love each other. They love their cats, their loons and eagles, their lake and their home.
At the airport he waited until my plane taxied off the runway, watching through the window and waving but before that, while waiting in the tiny terminal he talked about how much he loved my mother and his children and how much he thought it was good for my mother that I came up and kept her company. And he said, "You know, I’m damn sure going to outlive your mother. I paid that thousand dollars just to make her happy. But I’m damn sure not going to be cremated." I said, "I hear you, Bud."