‘’I’m going to Beijing,’’ said Mammy, about a month ago.
‘’Why?’’ I said
‘’It’s in China,’’ she said, and continued with her tea.
And now that Mammy is scaling the Great Wall, Papabear is scaling the equally challenging situation of feeding himself, perhaps for the first time in his life. What makes everything worse is that all the nice people – Lilsister, Sisinlaw and possibly Babybro – are all on their jollidays too – leaving me, the Tough Love (that being, tough without the love) Queen left, to assist him in all his queries, but not actually do anything, because it is my belief that a 64 year old man should be able to feed HIMSELF and then clean up his own mess afterwards.
Prior to The Departure, I contacted both Mammy and Papabear to discuss menus, costings and allergies/fussiness. Both sighed heavily and proclaimed that all was lost, as Papabear is useless. I asked him how he went at peeling potatoes, because in my eyes, should you possess a potato, and nothing else (except possibly a functioning onion), you can create a feast. Papabear explained that he could not peel a potato and my heart sank.
‘’At all?’’ I cried, wondering how this man calls himself Proud to be Irish.
‘’Can you light the oven?’’
They call it a deafening silence for a reason.
So after what was described to me by Lilsister as an evening fraught with despair, Mammy (at my insistence) carefully instructed Papabear how to turn on the oven, and grill, and how to peel a potato. Papa now had the makings of a meal, and was therefore entering the world of adulthood, and not quickly enough in my humble opinion.
It was decided that I should visit Papabear after work, so we could make our dinners together. This gets me out of the house and away from my tenants, who are very nice, but people, so I don’t really want to deal with them. Papabear’s job is to peel potatoes so I don’t have to, then get the oven heated for any meat products that I am making that night.
‘’How many potatoes should I peel?’’ he asked.
‘’Depends on the size and what we’re having.’’ I replied, thinking no more of it.
‘’I’ll peel four potatoes each time you’re coming down,’’ he enthused.
‘’Grand but if we’re making mash you could peel extra so you have some left over to make potato cakes with the next day,’’ I offered.
‘’I’ll peel six potatoes every day,’’ he cried.
‘’No not every day, just on the days we decide to have mash for example. Or if you want to have some left over to fry the next day.’’
‘’If we’re making potato cakes and frying them then I’ll peel eight potatoes every day till you tell me to stop.’’
With images of my father slowly making his way through a sack of roosters at the sink, like some slightly old and male version of Cinderella, I became the sighee and told Papa to do whatever made him comfortable.