My parents have two house dogs. A seven year-old West Highland Terrier and a two year-old Yorkie. Ever since my sister moved out of the house, these dogs have served as my parents’ surrogate children. It is quite adorable, but also rather pathetic.
My mother has found it necessary to “teach” the dogs how to count, the alphabet, the order of the planets, and the months of the year. I came home this week to find her teaching them how to count in Spanish.
“Uno, dos, tres, quatro, cinco, seis, siete, nueve . . . .” she says, emphasizing each syllable. The dogs sit side by side in the kitchen, looking up at her with blank stares. She pretends they are listening carefully to their latest lesson. In reality, they are patiently waiting for a piece of food to fall from the countertop where she is cooking.
“You forgot ocho,” I chime in. I really shouldn’t encourage her.
“That’s right, listen to your Uncle Ben!” she instructs them. “Can you say ocho?”
This is usually where I draw the line. Before they got the Yorkie, my mother referred to me as the “brother” of the Westie. But, with the Yorkie (which is really my sister’s dog that lives with my parents), she insists on referring to my sister as the Yorkie’s “mother”, me as her “uncle”, my dad as “papaw”, and herself as “mamaw.”. Of course, this is a not too subtle hint that she is anxious for grandchildren, which at least for my part, is not happening anytime soon, if ever.
“I’m not their uncle,” I say rather firmly, “I’m still their brother.” I pause to reflect on the ridiculousness of what just came out of my mouth. My parents also have two labradors, who fortunately, are not subjected to such humiliation.
Most people would get strange looks if they did these sorts of things. But not Mom. Humor is her art form. She is the only person who can make me laugh until my sides hurt, until I stumble into the next room and fall on my knees, gasping for air. I try to get away so I can’t hear her laughing hysterically in the other room. It just makes it that much harder to stop. Few people can truly appreciate our sense of humor. You might say we are an acquired taste. : P
So the trip to Arkansas has been wonderful, and long overdue. It has been great to see family and friends. I hope everyone else had a Happy Thanksgiving with their loved ones as well.