Fam­ily mat­ters:

When she moves into her daugh­ter’s apart­ment, Pat McDer­mott is forced to ask her “crack­ling” knees to step up – lit­er­ally!

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - Contents - To con­nect with Pat on Face­book, visit www.face­book.com/PatMcDer­mot­tau.

Pat McDer­mott’s knees-up

There is noth­ing wrong with my knees. I’m just a lit­tle stiff from time to time,” I told my GP. “When?” “When I get up in the morn­ing, when I sit down, when I stand for a long time. At a pa­rade, for ex­am­ple.”

“I told you not to join the army.”

“I have talk­ing knees. They crackle when I stand up or sit down.”

He scrib­bled fu­ri­ously on a notepad, ripped off the piece of paper and handed it to me. Don’t run marathons. Don’t climb stairs. Don’t lift heavy suit­cases or small chil­dren. Lose 10 ki­los.

Walk in (but not on) wa­ter.

Don’t sit on low so­fas. Bar stools are more com­fort­able. That’s why we men sit on them. Things will get worse.

They al­ways do.

I grabbed the paper and tried to jam his fin­gers in the of­fice door on the way out.

“Now I have to bill you for a long con­sul­ta­tion!” I made a fa­mil­iar ges­ture over my shoul­der as I walked my talk­ing knees down the hall.

“Well, at least we know one of your fin­gers still works!” he chor­tled.

Peo­ple envy our re­la­tion­ship.

Af­ter five ba­bies, a life­time of egg and ba­con rolls and a habit of wear­ing high heels when hang­ing out the wash­ing, I don’t blame my knees for want­ing to give up. But I have one more big ask be­fore I get se­ri­ous about fol­low­ing the doc­tor’s or­ders.

The MOTH (man of the house) and I were stand­ing in the laneway be­hind our daugh­ter’s apart­ment build­ing. Courte­nay and Nick are away on hol­i­day and we’re be­tween homes while our new apart­ment is be­ing built. We’d ac­cepted their kind of­fer of a bed to sleep in. All we have to do now is get to it. We looked up. Way up. Five flights of stairs up. For­tu­nately, my knees still en­joy a chal­lenge. All I need is a handrail, an oxy­gen tank and some­one at the top with choco­late shout­ing, “Only 63 more steps.”

My knees still en­joy a chal­lenge. All I need is a handrail.

A few min­utes later (okay – 10 min­utes later) we reached the apart­ment door, drag­ging our suit­cases be­hind us. Af­ter we caught our breath, we read the first note.

“Hi Dad. Hi Mum. In case Dad for­gets, the code for the door is in his wal­let. Have fun.”

“I didn’t for­get. I just didn’t re­mem­ber,” the MOTH mum­bled.

There was a scuf­fle while we found our glasses, and read and tapped in the num­bers. The sec­ond note was taped to the fridge. “Hi Mum and Dad. Help your­self to ev­ery­thing in the fridge. Be sure to eat the eggs and yo­ghurt.”

“That means the eggs and yo­ghurt are go­ing off,” said the MOTH, peer­ing in­side. “There’s a lot of healthy stuff in here.” He in­sists kale and hum­mus are a threat to civil­i­sa­tion.

“Shhh,” I said. “Courte­nay can hear you.” “She’s in Ade­laide!”

“She can still hear you.”

A third note was tacked to the clothes dryer. “Hi Mum. Don’t be scared, but the dryer makes a re­ally loud whang noise. Also it some­times smells like the clothes are on fire.”

The fourth note was on the cof­fee ta­ble.

“Hi Mum and Dad. To watch TV: Face the tele­vi­sion. Press green but­ton on black re­mote to turn on. Use ‘prog’ to change chan­nels. To watch Net­flix, turn TV on. Press home but­ton, scroll down to ‘Con­nected de­vices’. Se­lect ‘HDML 3’ to con­nect. PUT BLACK RE­MOTE DOWN NOW, DAD! MUM – TAKE IT AWAY FROM HIM.”

“She’s yelling at me 1300 kilo­me­tres away!”

“You al­ways had a spe­cial bond,” I re­minded him.

“Pick up small sil­ver re­mote. Press MENU on SIL­VER re­mote. Head to Net­flix tab. Make choice. Turn BIG BLACK re­mote off when you don’t want to watch any more. Ev­ery­thing will go off. IS ALL THIS CLEAR?”

“No!” said MOTH. “Let’s go for a walk.” I thought about the five flights of stairs, I thought about my knees. I thought about my GP. “I’d love to,” I said.

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