Biographical Non-Fiction posted November 27, 2016 Chapters:  ...106 107 -108- 109... 

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Just how much has Jeff changed?

A chapter in the book When Blood Collides

The Interview

by Spitfire

In my senior years, I cope with family issues.

Chapter 108

Previously: Much to our surprise, we had a good time with Jeff as well as Nichole on the first day of their visit. Frank went so far as to comment later that he liked him better than his own daughter.

Chapter 108 ends:

"What are you saying!" Further proof that hubby was losing his marbles.

"I think she’s snooty. All that fancy business at the restaurant.

"I didn’t see it that way," I retorted. Later on, I phoned Chris to get his take on it.

After our company left, I called my son at work on his lunch hour.

"Yo, Parental Unit, how’d it go with Albino Chick?" my son's voice boomed over the wire.

I heard someone laugh.

"It went well as far as I was concerned. What did you think of your big sister?"

"Why?" Suspicious. Then, "What does it matter?"

"Your dad thought she had turned into a snob. I didn’t get that impression."

"Mom, he’s remembering his sixteen-year-old daughter. She’s very sophisticated now. Nichole would easily fit into a place like New York City. Dad has a picture in his mind of my sister years ago. I didn’t get the impression she was stuck up."

When did my son get so wise? He realized Frank’s dementia kept him more in the past than in the present.

Nichole called at ten the next morning. "We’ve had breakfast and are leaving the hotel now. Just wanted to make sure you were up."

Frank moaned after I hung up. "I’m still exhausted from yesterday. My legs are too weak to go anywhere. Would you mind if I stay home, Shari?"

I wasn’t surprised. His constant fatigue was an issue the doctors couldn’t fix since Frank refused to help himself through exercise. At least, that's my theory. Hubby blamed old age.

The two "youngsters" arrived, breathing enthusiasm into the stale air of our lives. Nichole, wearing white capris and a black shirt, held a good-sized camera in her hand. I, too, wore black again, a fancy short sleeved shirt with a silver design embedded into the front. One of my favorites, but no comments did I get.

"Before we head out," Nichole announced, "Jeff wants to tape an interview with you two. Is there a place where the cat dander might not be too bad?"
(I might add here that Jeff's a video freak. He's made several independent movies that never went anywhere.)

"Don’t worry. Rosie hides in the master closet whenever we have company. She doesn’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen/dining area. She likes to be around me, and I avoid cooking as much as I can. Hooray for frozen dinners."

"Oh, Honey." Jeff turned toward his wife "You should have gotten that on tape." He sat down on one side of the rectangular table and repositioned two chairs on the opposite side. "Frank, you sit next to Shari."

Nichole remained standing and aimed the lens at us.

The questions were innocuous at the start.

JEFF: So what do you guys do for fun?

FRANK: Watch Criminal Minds.

ME: Work on the computer.

JEFF: Franny (I hated when he calls my daughter by her middle name--Frances) tells me you’re writing about life with your mother and aunt and sister and then meeting me. I’d like to read it when you’re finished.

ME: Sure. After I’m dead.

JEFF: So, Frank, you used to work with troubled teenagers. Do you miss it?

FRANK: I’m thinking of going back.

ME: Yes, dear. Over my dead body.

The questions continued. Then to my first shock of the morning, an impending thunderstorm. Jeff dared to ask hubby: "Do you know that you’ve told me the same thing three times?"

I shot my daughter a look. She ignored it. Jeff knew darn well he had memory loss. Then again, maybe he had forgotten.

I thought it cruel, but hubby took no offense. Chances are he didn’t process it. Jeff turned to me and changed the subject. "So, Ma, do you think I’ve ruined your daughter?"

My second shock—now a Tsunami. That’s exactly what I thought, but I couldn’t say it. Later, I thought of a witty response: "Let me count the ways." Had I been on my toes, I would have turned it into a joke.

Instead a long pause ensued, my brain a blank. Was he that much of a narcissist, he didn’t realize how close to my truth he came? Finally, I found my voice.

ME: Not any more than another man would have. Good one, Shari. I patted myself on the back.

Jeff’s response surprised me. "Actually, Nichole has changed me. I’m turning into an introvert."

ME: I’ve noticed you’re more laid back. (More socially acceptable, I wanted to say.)

Nichole piped up, "I’ve been working on that." She grinned, knowing what I really meant. Several years ago, she mentioned that when her boss gave private parties,  she picked a table with people who would not be offended by Jeff’s buffoon behavior. He really hit it off with comedienne Phyllis Diller, the CEO’s neighbor.

This reunion was turning out to be spectacular. Nichole had come to grips with her husband’s shortcomings and instead of saying "It is what it is," she had thought "It is what you make it."

Five minutes later, I brought up the first time we met Jeff. Big mistake. Nichole still can’t forgive Frank and me for something we did over twenty years ago.

To be continued.


Photo: the Nichole that Frank remembers.
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