Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Contrary to my usual statements, my late mother-in-law was not born 600 years ago, was never the target of a Puritan witch hunt, and did not have a large wart on her nose.  Instead, she was a pretty nice person who had a lot of trauma in her life.  Orphaned at nine, she was raised by a loving uncle and aunt in a rather financially unstable home during the Depression.  He first fiance was killed in World War II, and somewhere along the line a vibrant young woman became a sociophobe.

Despite all that, she had a kind heart behind her rough exterior and her true personality emerged more and more during her later life.  She had three sons and a daughter and I am partial to her if only for the daughter.  Anyone who could bring someone like Kitty into the world must be pretty good in my book.

To Eileen, I was always "that damned South Chelmsford farmer that Kitty married," although in late life she would admit that I was a pretty good guy.  She lived with us for the last three years of her life and we tried to keep her as independent and as comfortable as possible.  It was heart-warming to see her interact with her young great-grandchildren.  More people than she could have realized were saddened by her passing.

One time, she decided to treat Kitty and me to a Chinese restaurant.  She had found a coupon in the local paper and really wanted to use it.  Unfortunately, the restaurant she took us to was not the same restaurant that issued the coupon.  In fact, the item on the coupon was not even offered by this restaurant.  That really didn't matter to Eileen, who felt that a coupon was a coupon.  As Kitty and I slunk down into our seats, she confused the waiter enough so that the dish she wanted was prepared and given to her at the coupon price.  Thus, in honor of Eileen, every Bastille Day -- her birthday -- the family goes out for Chinese food, although we do not try to use a random coupon.

How do you celebrate the birthdays of departed loved one?

UPDATE:  So we decided to get the Chinese food to go.  Since we're new to the area, we were not sure where to get decent Chinese food.  Somebody suggested one place, but checking online, we found it was mainly Thai and Japanese food.  Then someone else said that there was a decent place by the Wal-Mart parking lot.  Great.  What's the name?  I don't know.  Then someone said, I think the place by Wal-Mart is called Shang Hai.  I looked it up online and the menu seemed pretty decent.  Christina said she would pick up the food when she picked Mark up from the high school if we would call the order in.  So I called in the order.  Turns out there are two Wal-Marts in town, about fifteen miles apart -- each with a Chinese food restaurant by the Wal-Mart parking lot.  So Christina picks up Mark at the high school and travels the fifteen miles to the Wal-Mart nearest us and the lady at the Chinese restaurant there tells her that no one called in an order but she'd be glad to make one up for her PDQ.  In the meantime, the lady from the other Chinese restaurant has telephoned me three times wondering when somebody was going to pick up the food.  It urns out that the Shang Hai restaurant is by the Wal-Mart across from the high school where Christina had picked up Mark.  So Christina had to reverse herself and drive the fifteen miles back to where she had picked up Mark.  When she got there, there was one customer ahead of her, dithering about how he wanted his order and taking up about four of the longest minutes Christina had endured.  All ended up well, but we ate over an hour later than we had planned.  It did seem like a fitting tribute to Eileen that we ordered from one restaurant and went to another to pick up the food.

After she got here, I did ask Christina if she tried to use a Domino's coupon at the register.  She just glared at me.


  1. So you got Chines at two restaurants. Wow, what a feast. I guess if I want Chinese I go to Panda Express.