1. Kids & Family

Family visit doubles as inspection time

My two daughters, one daughter's husband and a grandson came to visit at the same time last year to celebrate my birthday. That's what they said, but I've come to view these little visits as inspection tours. Yes, we do celebrate my birthday. But they observe every detail of how we live and what conditions prevail. Then they corner me alone and tell me what they think and what solutions they propose. • There have been some major changes since I last saw them. The most obvious of which is that I no longer have upper teeth. I had told them on the phone about the unfortunate collision my face had with a parking lot last April. I've gotten used to my new face, but it came as a shock to them. I do have an upper denture, but it doesn't fit and I can't eat with it on.

They also checked out the house and Darling Husband for decrepitude and neglect. No trouble finding that. (Not DH. He isn't neglected. Except for eating only soft foods for the past several months.) The house, however has suffered from my increasing inability to work like I used to.

They cornered me the day before they left. They started out with, "now don't take this the wrong way." Not a good omen.

One of the things that worried them was that DH has to go to Switzerland for a week and I'll be here alone. I'm not worried about being here alone for a week. They, however, have alerted one of or neighbors to check in with them if I don't open the curtains and bring in my newspaper by mid-morning.

They also declared they would buy me a cell phone. They want me to carry it all the time so I'm never out of touch. Okay.

Next thing they insisted on was hiring a housekeeper who can reclaim the house from my neglect. I could not be happier about having a cleaner come and deal with the normal housework I can no longer do.

Bless their hearts, they were worried that I would be offended, that I might view it as an intrusion of our privacy. Au contraire, I will be thrilled not to look at the evidence of my inadequacy. It doesn't seem fair for the burden to fall on DH. He does his best, but he doesn't have my wealth of experience with housekeeping.

So another inspection tour has come and gone. I have never been happier about failing an inspection.

Not only did my children see the daily problems we face, but also they immediately offered help. And now I have a really cool new cell phone. I'm afraid of it, but I think I know how to reach the people on my speed dial, and I'm sure I can answer if it rings.

Tomorrow the housekeepers come, a new experience for me. I'm tempted to pick up and dust before they come, but physically, I can't.

I'm enormously grateful to my daughters.

DH has been away for four days now and I'm getting calls every day from my daughters on my spiffy, new mobile phone.

It's nice to know they're thinking of me. I'm also realizing how much DH does around here.

I can't take out the trash. He usually does the dishes. So there is lots of stuff that just isn't getting done this week. I'm aware that I can get along without him for a week, but I'd really rather not. I worry about him on such a long trip alone. He worries about me here alone.

I've decided that being checked up on is a good thing. I won't complain about future inspection tours.

Sheila Stoll is happy to hear from readers but cannot respond to individual queries. Write her at PMB No. 309, 7904 E Chaparral Road, No. 110, Scottsdale, AZ 85250.