Mom’s Red Flag Call: “Rest and Inhale”–in style of Garrison Keillor’s series of “Mom” phone calls.
Over more than ten years I have had a relationship with my mom based solely on our weekly long distance, oversees, phone calls. These are the types of the long distance calls monitored–by the “spies” who love us–and are the biggest priority of all calls meta-data collected as we have learned throughout the last two years. I feel pity for anybody whose job might be to go over such meta-data. The calls may sound absurd, but I have bad news, for there is no cure for small talks between mothers and daughters and this will never change. For those who possibly listen; you can just quit the job, because no mom’s call will ever change. I know this from my personal experience, and I know how it is to talk with mom on the phone.
No matter how old you are, mom always sees you as a toddler, still needing her finger to hold on to cross the road. Moms on the phone regresses into the immediate stage of amnesia. It is as if they cannot see you, they naturally forget that you are now a fully grown person, with some gray hair, who makes decisions autonomously and sails free through life holding destiny in your own hands.
Last week while suffering with pneumonia I called my mom and I couldn’t cover up the terrible coughing. When I experienced a long lasting pause after coughing with whooping and whizzing sounds, I began feeling guilty for calling Mom! The monologue followed. First mom expressed her worry with a dramatic tone that I will die in that America and she will never see me to say goodbye. “But mom, I just have a bad cold that moved to my chest, colds happen. It’s a bitchy, cold winter here! Kim and Archie are building a solar furnace not to burn all money for a heating bill!”
After we moved from the existential crisis talks, soon Mom came up with the list of things I do wrong and why I am sick now: “Not taking enough rest, not taking care of yourself, working too much, writing too much, publishing nothing, and focusing on unimportant stuff……” and soon the list grew so it was over five minutes long. Trust me, no one wants to read the whole list.
Once when we sorted out what I had done wrong, another list of suggestions piled up. Mom suggested ten home/family remedy recipes with a ton of ingredients that can help a healing process of pneumonia.
The first home remedy direction sounded odd, “Rest and inhale, inhale a lot! Inhale all the time!” I couldn’t stop laughing and coughing at the same time feeling pains in my ribs while imagining the super-computer sorting the call through the meta-data of oversees calls, identifying translated words, running them through the “High Risk” algorithm, and raising not only the red, but purple flag. What then?
No winning situations continued. The laughter really hurt my mom, and she continued, “Well you laugh, but if you do not rest and inhale vapor made of our old family home remedy mixture you will be sick for one more month! Do not laugh, it’s serious to have pneumonia! Mix chamomile, pine needles, camphor, mint, sage, lavender oil, and bee balm–it’s better than “Vicks,” cover your had above the boiling pot steaming vapor with the towel, and inhale! You cannot tell me that there is no a herbal store where you can find all of the stuff. Certainly you have water and an old pot!”
Suddenly, she remembered, “Don’t you have a big pine tree in front of the house? I remember the picture when you guys bought the house. You have the big pine tree!”
I paused and tried not to laugh again, “You forgot mom. We lost the big pine tree the second day after we moved to the house when the tornado hit.” With frustration mom said that there must be some pines around the area. I promised I would find a pine tree as soon as the temperature rose from minus ten to at least 10 F, and I also guaranteed to go to the specialized herbal store, to make the old remedy, rest, and inhale.
Later, I decided that there is some wisdom in mom’s talk and her “inhale” advice. I visited the closest store and simply bought a Vicks vaporizer with fancy little pads soaked in a mentholy substance and I inhaled misty vapor. Soon, my bedroom sunk into memory and everything surrendered to a long and resting sleep tiptoeing on a high emotion. I caught myself again coughing, but this time everything seemed so familiar–the smell of camphor and turpentine soothing the congestion and I felt again mom’s soft touch and late-night kiss on my forehead.