Monday, July 12, 2004

The Past Few Days Part I: Family Visit (Long Post Ahead)

The vast majority of what I did the past few days was visit with family. My cousin Chenelle, Uncle Arthur, and Aunt Tina all visited last week. Although Chenelle and my Uncle Arthur have visited before, this is one of the first times in quite some time (if ever) that my Aunt Tina made the trip to Chicago as well. You might recall that she and Uncle Arthur visited for a couple of days earlier, before the 4th of July weekend. I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 with both of them in addition to my Uncle Calvin and Auntee Debra.

Chenelle got to Chicago last Monday, while my aunt and uncle came in very early Wednesday morning (around 1:30 a.m.). They stayed at my grandmother’s house the whole time they were here. As such, Mom, Dad, Samone, and myself went over nearly every day of their stay. Mom, Dad, and I went over for four days straight (Wednesday through Saturday), while my sister was a little tired and stayed home on Friday.

In addition to Chenelle and my aunt and uncle visiting, on Friday, my cousin Mario visited my grandmother’s house as well. He’s the son of my Uncle Lester. We don’t really see him too often, so it was nice to have him visit. The two of us are very close in age (he’s just a couple of months older than me) and are interested in similar fields. He’s even considering going to Northwestern for graduate school. We exchanged e-mails, so I’ll try to keep in touch with him.

As for everything else that happened...well, it’s time to go into “various comments” mode:

-Meeting and visiting with Aunt Tina, I can tell where Chenelle gets her personality from. Aunt Tina is a lot of fun and just a tad bit goofy, just like Chenelle. It was hilarious when Samone, Dad, Chenelle, Aunt Tina and I all played Uno. Aunt Tina was really into it. She was sitting on the floor with her back next to the couch. When someone put down a card that meant they almost won, she mistook it for them winning, threw down her cards and ended up bumping her head on the couch. She didn’t hurt herself badly when she did it and she was laughing the whole time.

-A valuable lesson to be learned from the visit...make sure to barbecue early. Each day of the four days that I went over to my grandmother’s house, we had barbecue. And each of those four days...we didn’t eat until later than normal. In fact, we didn’t really eat until about 8:00 p.m. a couple of days. My Uncle Arthur did most of the barbecuing and his process takes a little while. For example, him and my dad were outside getting the fire ready to go. That day, we were just cooking burgers, hot dogs, chicken breasts, and brats. No ribs or anything big like that. My dad (who normally gets the fire ready for my mom to grill when we do it) was about to spread out the coals and get the fire ready for us to eat when my Uncle Arthur told him that the fire wasn’t ready. The charcoals were definitely hot, as I saw them myself when I went outside. I guess they weren’t good enough for my uncle’s purposes. Of course, this lead to everyone else complaining that it was taking too long to grill.

However, I will say one thing about my uncle’s’s delicious. I don’t know what exactly he uses for his marinade (it’s probably a trade secret), but it results in some truly flavorful ribs. You don’t really even need sauce to enjoy them, something that can’t be said for most barbecue. The ribs themselves were just a little bit tougher than we’re used to. My mom normally cooks the ribs on the grill and finishes them off in the oven to make them tender. My uncle’s ribs are grilled only, but the flavor makes up for the lack of tenderness.

-Games were definitely popular over this visit. We played a big game of Uno (which included Dad, Samone, Chenelle, Aunt Tina, and myself), Samone and I taught Chenelle how to play Spades, I taught Dad how to play Speed (and refreshed Samone on how to play), and we played Scene It (the DVD movie game) and Jenga. For me, Scene It was a case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” for me. I played and ended up winning a couple of times. We played individual players (with Chenelle, Samone, Auntee, and myself) instead of the teams we usually play. As a result, the game, at times, became “gang up on whoever’s winning.” Honestly, I just got lucky. The first couple of times I played this game, I ended up with some questions that I really didn’t know. This time, they were fairly easy. It’s a fun game, though, and you find out some interesting stuff. I learned that Chevy Chase looked really different when he was younger.

-It’s official...the family likes Chappelle’s Show. I brought my copy of the first season with me last Wednesday and we all laughed like crazy at the first two episodes of the show.

-As usual, there was family gossip and talking during the visit. My cousin Phillip was supposed to visit while Chenelle, Uncle Arthur and Aunt Tina were here, but called and said he couldn’t make it. This is the second time in a row that he said he was coming but ended up not being able to. This, of course, lead to talk about him and his current...girlfriend. I won’t elaborate any further, but the talk got old real quick.

Another topic of conversation was good ole’ Grandmother Hattie. She is a character indeed. She’s nice and loves everybody, but she has her quirks. The main one is that she can talk anyone to death if you let her. Conversations with her tend to be pretty long. On Saturday, my Aunt Tina and Uncle Arthur went out with some friends to eat. One of the friends brought her elderly mother with her. The woman stayed and was company for my grandmother. My aunt and uncle were gone for about two hours or so. My grandmother talked to the older woman virtually nonstop for the entire time they were gone.

Another little quirk about my grandmother is her fondness for contradictory statements. When she says one thing, a completely opposite statement often balances it out. For example, when she had some ribs she commented on how they were good but they needed to cook a little longer. She scolded me and Samone for not seeing her but then loved us up moments later. On another day last week, she had eaten some food, but told a person on the phone that “she was waiting to get her food.” She’s a sly old woman who is far from losing mental capacity even at close to 80 years old. Since my Auntee Debra lives with her, it’s especially frustrating for her at times. However, we all love her...strange little quirks and all.

-The digital age has made family visits a bit more interesting. My Auntee Debra has a digital camera, scanner, and photo-quality printer. This means that we get family pictures that are ready in a short time, and family members can get copies of older pictures really easily. On Saturday, the four of us took a family picture outside my grandmother’s house. Auntee used her digital camera and we got a picture to take home with us that day. Also, we had fun as Auntee combined a picture of Chenelle as a little girl dancing with her father, Uncle Arthur, playing the drums.

In addition to the pictures, CD burning was on overdrive. Between Friday night and Saturday afternoon with the use of both my computer and my sister’s computer, I burned nearly 20 CDs worth of music for Chenelle and my Aunt Tina. It ran the gamut from old-school R&B to Hip-Hop and even some Radiohead. I also printed layouts for all but one of the CDs (since I didn’t have any info about it nor could I find any).

-A couple of times during the visit, the family found out firsthand about what it’s like when my mom has low blood sugar. I’ve mentioned before that my mother is a diabetic, and Dad, Samone and I all have experience with dealing with Mom when her blood sugar gets low. Most of the time, her behavior gets strange as she can’t really respond to questions or she gets really goofy. On Wednesday, while we were all watching Chappelle’s Show, my mom’s blood sugar got a little low. It didn’t get real bad, though. She ate some cashews and Auntee got her some orange juice. As always, when she came out of it, she didn’t remember anything of what she did while her blood sugar was low. It wasn’t entirely her fault, however. Her insulin pump gives her small, extra doses of insulin during dinner/snack time hours between 7:00 p.m. and midnight. She has to eat a snack after dinner or otherwise, her blood sugar will get a little low. Since we were having so much fun on Wednesday, it slipped her mind.

Very early Sunday morning was an interesting and slightly worse experience. I went to bed by about 2:00 a.m. as I had to get up to give my speech for church. I told mom good night and went off to sleep. At about 4-something in the morning, my cell phone rings. It was my Aunt Tina calling from my grandmother’s house. The return flight for my relatives was Sunday at 8:00 a.m. and my dad was going to drop them off at the airport after he got off from work. Mom told me before I went to sleep to make sure that I was offline before 3:00 a.m. as Dad was going to call home. When I got the phone, my Aunt Tina informed me that my dad had called, and that there was something wrong with Mom. I got up and found her sitting up on the couch, phone in hand, and with very low blood sugar. Fortunately, she was still conscious enough to be able to speak and I tried to take her blood sugar (and get some sugar in her via a cup of Kool-Aid). In another twist, while I was trying to help Mom, the doorbell rang. It turned out to be the ambulance (which I later found out my dad called while he was on his way back home). This had me rushing to get pants on and open the door. They took over from there as my dad got home. All the while, I was on the phone with my grandmother trying to reassure her that everything was okay. The paramedics got Mom back to normal and Samone and I made sure she got something to eat so that her blood sugar wouldn’t drop. It’s always strange how we deal with Mom when her blood sugar gets really low. This wasn’t the first time the ambulance had to come to get her blood sugar back to normal (and it wasn’t even the worst time). Dad, Samone, and I normally can keep our cool when this happens, but people like my grandmother (who we try keep this from whenever it happens) are a bit more frightened and flustered.

-In the end, these past few days have been tiring (as I didn’t get much sleep a couple of nights), busy, and a whole lot of fun. My Aunt Tina, Uncle Arthur, and cousin Chenelle left early Sunday morning for Seattle and got there safely. It’s a little sad when they leave as they live so far away, but we definitely enjoy the time we have with them. I can’t wait until they visit again...or even getting the chance to actually visit them.

No comments:

Post a Comment