Je Suis Mira Mesa


The Grandfather


I wanted to tell you a bit about my Mom… I’m not sure where to start.

My Mom was born in 1910, several years before the start of World War One… a much different time. There are so many stories… here’s one that happened in the early 1990’s, it’s bitter sweet, humorous and Oooh so true.

Mom spent the last several years of her life in a nursing home in the Albany Park area of Chicago. A large three story concrete structure that housed perhaps 200 plus folks. Mom’s room was on the second floor with several large windows overlooking the neighboring community. The windows didn’t open, but they had large concrete sills that the local pigeons put to good use. Mom gave several of them names and got concerned if they were late showing up on any given day.

Her room had a telephone, but all the calls went through the home’s switchboard so we had Illinois Bell Telephone install a private line with a push button Princess Phone for her (How many of you remember Princess Phones?). One of the smarter things we did cuz… almost a year later in the early morning hours she fell out of bed and couldn’t get up. She called out for help to no avail as staffing was very slim overnight. She was able to reach the cord to her Princess phone and pulled until it fell to the floor. She kept pulling the cord until she could reach the phone and called Dad at home. She woke him out of a sound sleep, told him what happened, and he replied “what do you expect me to do about it”. Wrong, very wrong thing to say under the circumstances!  Mom was mad, no, she was really pissed, she hung up, called 911 and all hell broke loose… the city responded en mass… the Fire Dept. responded with a Battalion Chief, several engines including a ladder truck and a couple of ambulances, the Police Dept. had patrol cars on scene in a few minutes. They were all terrified of what might be happening in a building filled with infirm old folks so… better safe than sorry!  Wish I knew exactly what Mom said to the 911 operator.

When the paramedics got to Mom’s room, they picked her up, checked her out and tucked her back into bed, thankfully she wasn’t hurt.

One stayed and talked to her while the others were talking to staff. The following morning, things got REALLY interesting!  The Asst. Fire Chief for the entire City of Chicago showed up at Mom’s room to check in on her before he held a “Come to Jesus” meeting with the home’s management. Mom made sure to tell him how handsome those big strong firemen were who picked her up and put her back in bed.

After he finished his “Come to Jesus” meeting, he proceeded to our house to talk to Dad… Dad invited him in for a beer!  They talked for a while and he gave Dad a few suggestions of better things he could have said the previous night. Dad thought of him as a new friend, told him to stop in any time he was in the area… things were really different back then!

Here’s one more quick story about Mom.

On an early May 1st afternoon, 1980ish, our house phone rang here in Mira Mesa. When I answered it all I heard was “Hooray, Hooray, the first of May, outdoor screwing starts today” and the caller hung up!  After my wife and I finished laughing I realized that it was Mom, I called her back so we could talk. Well, it seems she deemed it important that all three of her boys hear that joke promptly but she didn’t want to pay for the week day long distance calls… this was her way of getting us all to call her… it worked!

Je Suis Mira Mesa

 March 2019