“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree”
As I sat to write this post, my telephone rang. I chose to ignore it. It rang again. I ignored it. My husband always likes to say that the phone is there for his convenience and I tend to agree. Well, what he really says is, "I'll blow that f-ing phone up if it doesn't stop ringing." If I don't want to answer it when it rings, I won't. Today, it kept ringing. At this point, I asked Duke, "who the hell is dead?" He couldn't give me an answer. After this caller's fourth consecutive attempt to get someone to answer the phone, I picked up. It was my father in law, Mr. Larger Than Life. He said, "hello son." I said, "no, this is Rudee." I was laughing to myself that he thought I was his son who has a very masculine voice. I wondered if I sounded manly to him or if he was particularly deaf today. I settled on deaf. I also wondered what he wanted since he wasn't going to give up calling until someone answered. He wanted to know if I needed anything from the market. Nah. He goes to the same Italian market that I do, but he shops from the discounted rotten vegetable cart and I'm not really in the mood for moldy food today. I thanked him anyways. He then proceeded to tell me about last week's head to toe physical, stopping just short of the description of the prostate exam and why his distaste for that proves he could never be gay. I've heard all about that digital rectal exam from my son and then my husband who have both repeated it for humorous reasons for a week. Mr. Larger Than Life did mention his exam was "from top to bottom," and "everything looks just great."
I am not the only person in this house who hides from my father in law. In fact, I'm not the only one in the entire metro Detroit area who hides from him. Some people in my family have gone to the extreme by moving hundreds of miles away in an attempt to hide from him. Remember, this is the man who shows up, uninvited, to many relative's and friend's homes for breakfast. Usually, Sunday breakfast. He does stalk some of his friends on a daily basis. I feel for them but mostly, I feel relief that it isn't my house he comes to everyday. That's because of Duke. For some reason, he hates my beasty boy dog. Dukealicious, impervious to my father in law's distaste for him, has made it his mission to make this man love him. It hasn't worked in 8 years and it's not likely to, but that doesn't stop Duke from sticking his giant nose in Mr. Larger Than Life's ass every chance he gets. When Duke dies, I'm not telling my father in law. I'll have my dog stuffed and placed on the porch to ward off uninvited visitors.
My husband, who has the patience of Job, tends to his father and his father's home on a daily basis. Except when fall comes. He hates fall. Oh I'm sure he likes the weather and the color of the leaves on the trees, but when those leaves start to fall, he begins to hate this season. His father has a personal vendetta in respect to the leaves. It's all he talks about. He knows which leaves are his and which have been deposited by a neighbor's tree. He may even hate the neighbor for allowing it to happen. His problem, as I see it, is that everyone around must be dragged into this leaf drama. He can't keep it to himself and he is incredibly particular in how this annual assault of the leaves must be managed. There is no right way or wrong way to tackle the monumental problem of the leaves. There is only Mr. Larger Than Life's way and it always involves all of the men in the family doing the grunt work while he tells them how to do it. He's like the conductor of an orchestra of rakers. If the leaves aren't gathered just so, there will be screaming and a very public display of temper resulting in humiliations galore and lots of swearing by the orchestra. Every year, I hear the current and past stories of the gathering of leaves. The best one involves my college aged husband hiding under his bed in order to get out of leaf duties. His mother found him because he couldn't hide all of his 6'4" frame under the bed without something cramping up. At the time, he could hear his father bellowing from outdoors to come and help him with the yard work.
Mr. Larger Than Life has squandered a fortune on yard implements including rakes, vacuums and special mowers to tackle the leaf issues. For what he's spent on those tools, he could have hired a lawn service for the entire neighborhood for a lifetime. Instead, he chooses to torture everyone around him with his annual gatherings which consume hours of their days off and cuts into watching weekend sports. For Father's Day this year, the boys bought him a new leaf blower. It wasn't really a gift for him, it was what they wanted in anticipation of what was coming. In short, they bought a gift for themselves. I wonder, how's that working out?
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