My Week and More True Stories from the “Hood


“So,” you ask, “How is your week going, your time away from husband Mike, the traveling businessman, who is “stuck” in sunny Phoenix this week?” Well, let me tell you about my week.……

Mike left on Monday morning around 7:30 a.m. That is late leaving the house for him; he is usually long gone before 7 a.m. He was really dawdling around because he had an 8 a.m. breakfast meeting at the Marriott.

By 7:30 I was up, dressed and had the upper floor of the house marginally straightened. Two kids had been fed; two sack lunches had been made. The other child was sitting on the bathroom floor with her legs wrapped around the base of the toilet. Her tummy hurt. Mike was going off to a full breakfast served to him at the hotel and I got the crumbs of the box of Froot Loops cereal and the warm drizzles of milk that were left in the milk bottle which had been sitting on the counter for an hour after somebody forgot to put it away. I ate those crumbs, a few taco chips that were going in a school lunch and drank a swig of the juice that somebody left on the breakfast table and forgot to finish. I should have known better, I’m not a novice at this motherhood thing. There were large floating junks of toast that I slurped down before I knew what I was doing.

I asked Mike to take Emily to school on the way to his meeting to which he rolled his eyes and promptly replied, “I suppose so if she can be ready in two minutes. I’ve really got to get going.” “Yes, I bet you do,” I said with a smile and a lilt in my voice.

The day passed with a lot of groaning and complaining from Abby and a few phone calls from Mike which one would suppose would be like, “I just called to tell you that I love you before I go. I was on my way to the airport and was thinking of you.” Instead, the conversation went like this, “I need you to pay the bills. I forgot.” And, “Did you remember to pack my hemorrhoid cream? You know how I need that when I travel!” Yeah, yeah whatever…

Abby spent the day with a low grade fever and was very whiny and in a miserable grump. Soon she began to swell up with a nasty case of hives. Sure she did, of course!!! Daddy’s gone, so now we are going to give Mommy a cerebral hemorrhage! What to do??? I called the physician on call and she recommended I dose her with liquid children’s Benadryl and Zantac. Should I have them both here at my easy disposal??? Thus began the dismantling of the house…I was flying through cupboards digging in my secret hoards of medicines…found a Zantac in the bottom of my purse next to a mint that had been sucked on and discarded and which was now collecting the fuzzies of my purse. What about the Benadryl???

BINGO! I found it in my mondo first aid kit that I had almost forgotten in the car. This is the same first aid kit that many have taunted me about because it is such a behemoth. They will all be left laughing when I pull out the Jaws of Life to save them or the cardiac paddles to shock them back into a normal heart rhythm.

After the dose of Benadryl came the calm. That is, the calm before the proverbial storm. The first thing I knew Abby was barfing her head off…my least favorite thing to help a child with. Where in the hell was her damn father??? I knew I had to go in the bathroom and act like a grownup, but I DIDN’T WANT TO!!!! Doesn’t anybody understand? I never promised to be the head-holder of the barfer.

Well, at least the hives were gone and after a couple of hours of her heaving violently (and me trying not to!) I was able to remove the bar of Zest soap that I had duct taped to my face/nose so I wouldn’t have to smell the vomit. Just as I was escorting her to my bed (which was encased in an old shower curtain lest it be barfed upon) Will came running into my bedroom and said, “Emily is sleep walking down the stairs!” He helped me round her up and put her in bed and then began what can only be described as the night from hell that started from a small armchair in my bedroom. After Abby rolled and rolled for several hours in my bed, making sure to make large crinkling sounds on the shower curtain which I was sure was heralding a hive induced seizure, I finally moved to the love seat in the family room where I remained bent like a pretzel until 5:45 a.m. the next day, when it was time to start the whole motherhood thing over again.

That day involved taking Abby to the doctor and having the doctor run every test known to man only to tell me that she had a virus. “She has a WHAT? I had to hold this child down with my legs wrapped around her waist and my left hand plastered across her forehead in order to get a sample from her nose for influenza and swab from her throat for strep and now you have the nerve to tell me it is a VIRUS! I beg your pardon!!!” I have been to that office four times since February 1. The nurses all know me by name; we exchange recipes for goodness sakes! There is a parking spot up front with my name painted in large yellow letters stating, “Reserved for GRIES: Our Patient of the Month.” Why can’t they just give you some sort of frequent visitor punch card? Like four visits and the fifth strep swab is free? At least I’d feel like I got something out of the deal!

Today’s trauma was one that I had never suspected or anticipated. I must admit here and now that I cannot read manuals. Can’t read them and understand how to use whatever appliance. You want me to try to work that new microwave? Well, don’t expect me to be able to read the directions and understand how it works. My “brain” is not wired that way. I have to experiment with the appliance first and then perhaps, if I am lucky, figure out how to run the thing. I also cannot fix things that are broken. Anyway, they have people you can pay for things like that!

So when I realized that the liquid fabric softener dispenser on my washing machine was clogged, I thought of reading the manual, but instead hit the speed dial number for our local appliance store. Soon I was instructed by a very manly woman named “Pat” how to dismantle the dispenser. “She” kindly said, “We recommend that you dismantle this piece and clean it every two weeks or so,” to which I not so kindly replied, “You have got to be kidding me! How come nobody told me this when I bought this washing machine from you six years ago??” No reply from Pat’s end. Go figure.

So after attempting for twenty minutes with two butter knives to pry apart the dispenser, (steak knives would have been too sharp and dangerous! Duh! I do know that!!!) I managed to pry it off and was greeted with six years worth of black grime. To have a good idea what I was dealing with, pull out that drain thingy that is in your bathroom sink…you know that black gooey, stinky stuff that accumulates on the drain thingy after you forget to clean the sink for a couple of weeks??? That is what I mean; only this time it was six years of accumulated black slime.

It took me almost three hours to clean it and one telephone call to my best friend to say, “You have got to get over here to see the slick that I found.” You really can only call your best friend and invite her over to look at your filth. Other people wouldn’t come; a best friend always will. And she’ll tell you how she really wants to clean under her dishwasher but her husband tells her that if they move it, it’ll never work again (you don’t want that to happen, do you???) and better to let the next people who buy the house clean under there. Yeah, he obviously is a member of the Friends-of-Mike-Club.

So, in case any of you are wondering how I am doing here in Marion, Iowa…now you know for sure. Just another day in the life of Korky Gries: mom, plumber, doctor and wife extraordinaire. All of the above is true and I will swear by it. Or swear through it.

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