If you’ve followed me for a while, you may remember frequent posts about my mother. At ninety- four, she lives independently, manages her life and business, and still gardens. I see her several times a week and do her heavy lifting. She rotates her housekeeping on on a daily schedule, so her house is clean as a pin. Her neighbors call in for coffee, so she’s very social. The best of all is her good nature. Every morning when I call, she says, “I feel so good.”
Mother thinks my kitchen is a deli. She always checks my kitchen counter for a biscuit to go with her coffee when she comes in the back door. At the end of every visit, she snags another to take home for a snack as well as raiding the fridge before leaving. I caught this picture of her leaving yesterday. You see the eggs in her hand. In her hobo’s bundle, she has a container of fruit salad, another of turkey salad, and a piece of pound cake. Last week she had a surprise lunch guest and couldn’t wait to tell me what a fine lunch she’d whipped up: turkey and dressing, canned fruit, and cake. It was my home-canned turkey, my home-made dressing, and sour cream pound cake. I do believe she had to spring for the peas. I’ll bet she never breathed a word of where all that food came from. Of course, she had a plate of my pickled veggies on the side.
Anyway, that is not the story I set out to tell. For Mother, leaving is a process. First, she announces she’s leaving and gathers her gleanings from my kitchen. Then, I go out to turn her car around and take the first load of stuff. She follows to watch. She has a little trouble backing out around our vehicles and camper trailer. She keeps an eagle eye on me, then heads back to use the bathroom one last time before heading that long seven miles home, or wherever is next on her agenda. She has to pet Buzzy a bit and hunt Bud up from wherever he’s escaped to say “Goodbye,” because she might not see him for a day or two. Then she has two get a drink of water and talks a minute on the way out. Sometimes she gets all the way to the car before remembering she’s left her jacket, phone, or maybe an obituary or newspaper article she brought to show me. That necessitates a little more visiting. Eventually, she makes it all the way to her car. It’s not over yet! Finally settled in, she makes a phone call or two before hitting the road, unless she’s forgotten to tell me something and has to come back in for a minute. Her average leaving time is eleven minutes, though it’s not unusual to take thirteen. She’s so little she has to sit on three cushions!
Quirky Family Evening
Kathleen Swain and her children. Front left to right, Connie Miller, Kathleen Swain, Marilyn Grisham, Phyllis Barrington. Back row, Linda Bethea and Bill Swain. How did she ever birth all these behemoths?
A few evenings ago, Mother and her five children met for dinner at a local restaurant. Afterwards, we went to her house to visit. As soon as we no longer had to be socially acceptable, we regressed into our former roles and behavior, teasing Mother and each other. At various times, we ganged up on each other just like we always had, sometimes with one sibling, sometimes another.
Once we got all that settled, we started noting interesting things about Mother’s house. Does this clock situation look odd to anyone besides me?
It seems she has been meaning to call the clock repairman but just hasn’t really had time, besides, that other clock was on the clearance rack at Walmart for a dollar. She never did explain the lightbulb accessory. She looked around meaningfully at the crowd. “I guess I could use my Christmas money, but ………..” I wonder which loser will crack first.
After my brother left, she asked us to turn her mattress. I didn’t get a picture, but each corner of her mattress is numbered. She didn’t remember why. I really didn’t need to know.
When we were sitting in her living room later, we notice that each of her four speakers has a number (or two) that matches a corresponding number on the ceiling. I will only offer one photo as proof. For some reason, she had numbered a couple twice and added a letter. She said the theory was on a need-to-know basis. Fortunately, I don’t need to know.
I am not concerned that Mother is developing dementia. She is no different than she has ever been. Oh, yes. A large rubber band encircled the front door knob, despite the fact that she has a security system, dead-bolt, and safety bar propping door knob securely. That’s so she will know the door is locked. Go figure!
Red Wagon War
Mother and I went to one of our favorite stores the other day, Goodwill. I headed straight for the back to see if I could find a nice piece of cast-iron cookware. I am always on the lookout for cast-iron. En route, I stumbled up on this miracle. They were pulling a red wagon out to the floor. I grabbed it and headed for the front without even checking the price. It was a bargain, no matter what. I ran over a nice middle-aged gentleman on my way up.
“Oh, did you find that here?”
“Yes, I am so thrilled. I’m not even going to shop any more. I’m just going to take it and run.”
“How much was it?”
“I don’t know. I was so excited I forgot to look. Let’s see. Ten dollars! What a deal!” I was dancing a jig for sure,now.
Just about that time Mother walked up. “Oh, you found a red wagon! Did they have any more? I’ve been looking all over for one!”
“I know! When I saw this one I grabbed it!”
Clearly the man thought everything had its price. “My mother has been wanting one forever. Would you let me have it for forty dollars?” Mother looked at him with blood in her eye. She had her eye on that wagon.
“No Sir, If I’m not going to give it to my mother, I’d better not give it to yours.”
Doesn’t she look good pulling it around in my back yard?
More Travels with Mother
Travels With Mother (Part 2)
The Most Fun You’ll Never Have, Kathleen’s Amazing Bathroom Tour!
God was with us. We got to our destination, Hot Springs, Arkansas without a lot more drama. We checked into our room, a nice suite with two king-sized beds and an extra bed for the fifth in our party. For some reason, though it was 104 degrees, we freshened up a bit before going out to see the town, allowing us to start out with a less vintage sweat. Within minutes, we were rank. Not to be deterred by a little thing like heat exhaustion, we explored every shop on Main Street, till Mother found a little shop selling belly-dancing costumes. She wouldn’t be budged. Now, as I’ve said before, Mother is tight. She had no intention of making such a frivolous purchase, but had to admire herself in one. Every inch of the stifling shop was crammed with exotic outfits with no space devoted to dressing rooms. The proprietor obviously didn’t expect belly-dancers to be overly modest. Not to be denied, Mother just slipped her favorite on over her clothes, despite the heavy customer traffic. She is a little old church lady, after all. I would never have expected so much business in a store selling belly-dancing costumes.
Mother had us hold her things while she tottered and struggled into her racy choice, bumping customers at every turn. They had to have thought her mind was gone and we should have looked out for her better, or that we were in geriatric sex-trade, pimping her out to some perverted creature with a fetish for demented, antique belly-dancers. Neither choice made us look good. Eventually, she pranced a bit and had us take a picture or two for her Sunday School Class, before being convinced to leave. The store clerk was not amused by any of this, but I figured if she thought she was big enough to straighten Mother out, she could go for it. I know when I am whipped.
An amused motorcycle guy and his girlfriend were taking all this in and invited Mother to meet their friends waiting on their bikes just outside. I think the burly guys exact words were, “She reminds me so much of my mama!” With him as Mother’s escort, we escaped the wrath of the store owner who was obviously thought it was past time we left.
Mother charmed his friends. Her new friend invited her for a ride, which she refused, but she did climb behind him on his bike to get her picture made. Regretfully, he helped her off, after telling her, “Ma’am, you don’t have to go home with these girls if you don’t want to. We coaxed her away after she exchanged phone numbers and addresses with them, insisting they all come visit.
Later that evening, we made it back to our hotel, only to find the air-conditioning and bathroom both out of order in our room. Mother took charge, went to see the manager, and got us transferred to the only room they had left, the Presidential Suite, complete with a hot-spring bath. I suspect the manager thought, “She reminds me of my mama.” For once, a bathroom drama with Mother worked in our favor.
We enjoyed the rest of our visit. On the way home, my sister Connie hung her purse strap on a toilet handle and broke the toilet in a station. She takes after Mother.
My elderly mother had her foot on a stool the other evening when I noticed what appeared to be a ghastly wound. I flew over to inspect it when she started laughing. She had laid an elastic strip across the insole of the shoe and colored it with shoe polish, which later rubbed off on her foot, creating the wound impression. Before you feel sorry for her, you should know she probably has twenty pairs of shoes, most in boxes.
Things Mothers Do
I miss all the things my mother used to do for me. Even though she had to get up to a freezing house at five-thirty in winter to do it, she always had a hot breakfast on the table when we got up, usually hot biscuits, eggs, fresh milk, homemade jam or preserves, and either grits or oatmeal. Like most kids, I didn’t want it, but she insisted. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” After the whirlwind of getting the older Continue reading
Vagina, Boobs, and Poop (Part 12)
This post has nothing to do with Vagina, Boobs, and Poop. I am doing a post on crazy things my mother has said and done and wanted to see if this garnered interest. Mother is sensitive about her age and height, so I can’t mention the fact that she is past eighty, and “not tall,” but besides that, has said and done some interesting things. (Links to part 1-11 below) Continue reading
Life Slips Away
This is so poignant. Reblog.