"Greg, please tell me you're not going to buy your father's car," Mom said on the phone. "Surely you can do better."
"I'll just get rid of its sulfur smell, and then it'll be fine."
"Well, I won't ride to Perkins in it with you, I'm telling you that much now. You won't get me in that thing."
"You're right, Mom. Sinking into Corinthian leather that once touched Dad's ass is deeply offensive. What was I thinking?!"
"You think you're funny, but... Oh! Oh, I just--! Are you working tonight? Oh!..."
The line was dead. I called her back several times, but her phone went to voice mail. Finally, she called me back an hour later. I was pretty busy: pizza rolls.
"Mom, what happened? I was about to go over there (no: pizza rolls)."
"I thought the house was on fire."
"But it was just the sun coming through the bathroom window. Just a spot of red. I thought... But never mind."
"So... uh... are you okay, Mom? Now that Medora is gone?"
"I'm fine. There's a funeral in a week. But I doubt I'll go to it."
"Yes, but how are you doing?"
"I'm fine! I already told you. You and your brothers keep asking me this, and I'll be just fine. Now that I have free time I'm going to volunteer, sing in the church, garden, paint, and play wargames. I'm finally going to live my life!"
"That sounds great, Mom. Good for you!"
"Yes. But I'm just worried about the geranium. There's a geranium outside Medora's house that needs water, and I wonder if anyone will remember to water it."
"It's just a geranium."
"I think I might go tomorrow to make sure it has water."
"Maybe you could start working twelve hours shifts with the geranium?"
The conversation switched to Pat, my transgender philosophy student. So far we've covered Heraclitus, Parmenides and which of the Beatles were gay (hint: Ringo). This week Pat was agitated because he's going to have surgery. He has a tumor the size of Arnold Schwarzenegger's head in his abdomen, and he wondered if he can ask the anaesthelogithsist if he can get a dosage large enough so he won't have to come back. He's still sad about his helper dog dying. And about his sister molesting him when he was two. And his hatred of people in general, and specifically of his parents who won't get him the new dog he wants for his own sanity. Anyway, he'll be laid up for a while recovering from his surgery. And being sad.
Mom listened in silence. Finally, she asked, "Does Pat need a caregiver?"