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Gill took off for a few days to visit with old friends in Toronto, the big city. After all, her week here in Small City ON could only be tolerated when interspersed by such breaks in the real world. It was old times again: the early morning rush to the train station, the last minute emergency Crohn’s dash to the nearest bathroom, her frenzied cries of “Stop the car here, Ma. Right now! I really need to use the washroom” as she ran off. It all brought back such fond memories of our time together, the summers (and more) of our discontent, when she was my boomerang-in-residence.

But I had nothing to fear…certainly not the prospect of returning home to an empty, quiet house.  Chaos greeted me as soon as I returned home. Mr. Pants (still in residence for his ‘Christmas Spring Break’) was barking at the intruder(me) daring to enter HIS house. It is amazing how quickly dogs pick up on the rituals and habits of a family. He was right there to jump up on me, do his little dance of delight and crowd The Pig out of her rightful position as Head Guard Dog and Receiver of All Grandma’s Attention. She was seen sulking, her nose way out of joint at her recent demotion in status. I could see her thinking:”Who is this young whipper snapper and who let him in here to steal MY Grandma and share MY chicken soup?”

I realized, as I went about my daily chores, that it hadn’t taken Gill long to re-establish herself in the house.  There was the stash of coffee and tea mugs everywhere (although a bit more difficult to establish ownership with Crazy D and L’il Sis also leaving drinking utensils in their own personal hideaways). When she was the only one here, the culprit was obvious. Now, they’ve returned to their childhood dynamic with each one blaming and pointing the finger at the other. And once again, Gill’s Birkenstocks (known hereabouts as her ‘winter boots’)  clog the space near the exit doors. Although, to be fair, her contribution to the pile pales in comparison to the mountain of boots, running shoes, sandals, detachable cleats and knapsacks that cover the floor.

When I called her out for her Birks, she pointed out testily:”Ma! How can you even SEE my Birks with all this shit lining the floor? What are these piles of clothes? I don’t see how you live like this! Those other two are slobs. It wasn’t this bad when WE lived here together!”

“Hmm,”I retorted. “Pot calling kettle…your memory seems a tad bit selective.”

It was at this point that I conceded,  as much as Gill needed a break from us, we needed a break from her as well. Yup, nothing like a few days ‘getting pished’ with old friends to make us all appreciate each other again. Now, speaking of getting pished, where did I put that wine bottle?