14 November 2008

Ghosts and Cookies and Parents, Oh My!

My mother has gone round the bend. Totally.

Seems last night my mom called the cops because she heard "people in the house." Then she called my youngest brother, who called my sister, who wants me to come to Milwaukee right now and get my mother committed to a psych ward. Why any of this is a surprise to anyone I don't know. My mom is a drama queen. But today I thought I'd better call her and ask her what happened.

She tells me that ever since my dad went into the nursing home a couple weeks ago she's been hearing people walking around the house. And some times she sees them. Last night a whole crowd of them came up from the basement and went into my Dad's empty room and ate cookies in there and left crumbs on the bed. So she locked herself in her bedroom and stuck knives in the door frame to keep them from coming in. But then they looked at her through the windows so she called the police. Who (surprise!) found no evidence of people in, around, or near the house.

So I figure 1) she's just lonely and looking for company or 2) she's insecure and overreacting to house noises. So I tell her not to worry, it's just ghosts. She's always been fond of ghost stories. We have a whole family history of people who see ghosts. I suggest that she sprinkle salt on all the window sills and at the base of the doors to keep them out. She asks, "Will that work?" So I tell her it will if she "activates" it by standing in the middle of the house and saying the Lord's Prayer loudly 3 times after spreading the salt. She is relieved and says that she should have called me first and saved all the trouble . . . Because of course, I would know what to do . . . I'm the smart daughter after all.

I'm feeling a bit smug at this point and then she asks . . . Am I really certain this will keep ghosts out? So to cover my bases I say, "Well, only the bad ones. But you want visits from the good ones right? Like Aunt Evie, and Aunt Estelle, and Gramma? Salt won't keep them out. So if you hear any ghosts just remember they are just family ghosts." But, she then tells me, they make so much noise with their talking she can't sleep at night. So I tell her to go in the bathroom and turn on the water . . . just a tiny trickle, because everyone knows that ghosts can't cross running water, and that will keep them away from her bedroom so she won't hear them.

Now I am back to feeling smug, because I have given her a placebo. And some white noise. And with a little luck we will have no more phone calls to the police--at least until I can get out there and see how she is really doing. And, hell, if it is visitations from the spirit world, well, salt and prayers and running water fit in with the folklore of protection and certainly couldn't hurt. Mom's happy, I'm happy. . . and then she asks: "They see you through the screen, too, don't they?"

I'm thinking she's still talking about her ghosts, but, no, she's referring to the TV. Seems it is the weather people. She is certain they can see her. Because they smile at her. And when she smiles at them they smile back. "No, Mama," I tell her. "They smile all the time because they are on camera."

"No. I am sure they really see me," she says. "Watch this!"

I presume she is looking at a TV somewhere in her home in Wisconsin. I, however, am driving in my car in Ohio. "What am I supposed to be watching, Mom?" I ask.

"See that!" she proclaims in her "Ah Ha" voice--the one that she always used when we kids were caught raiding the cookies, or when she caught my dad with women's underwear in the backseat of his car. "I waved at the lady on the screen and she called over the man in the white shirt to look at me!" she announced proudly. "I'm sure they can see me. Do you think that's okay if they look at me?" she asked.

"Do you watch TV in your underwear?" I asked her. "No? Then don't worry about it, Mom."

So. My mother has lost it. Ghosts eat cookies in the other room keeping her up all night with their incessant chatter, and the TV weather people watch her through the TV screen.


I am so not looking forward to Thanksgiving.

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