Free to a Good Home

Notes from the Eldercare Underground—The Continuing Saga

So today was grocery shopping day, once again, with my mother.  As I’ve mentioned before, she has a tendency to say “no” to any of my suggestions first and then, after some wheedling on my part, she usually warms up to my ideas. 

Well, sometimes.  Not always.  Pretty much never.

Today was no different.  We were in the frozen food section picking out some dinners and I was holding the freezer section door open with my behind while we perused the Lean Cuisine offerings. 

(At 4′ 11″ and 114 lbs. my mother definitely doesn’t need to lose weight, but she likes most of their dinners and the portions are in keeping with someone who has a birdlike appetite.)

She pointed out some things she thought she might like this time and I made a couple of suggestions that met with a wrinkled nose on her part. 

She couldn’t decide if she wanted my selections or not.  Finally I asked her if I could just put them in her cart, fer cryin’ out loud.

To this she replied “Coax me,” and I knew I was doomed so I just let the door slam shut and we moved on down the aisle. 

I wasn’t about to coax her into deciding if the lasagna with meat sauce was calling her name today or not because by that time my hiney would be on its way to a galloping case of freezer burn.

When we got home she gave me a stack of “House Beautiful” magazines to take to the thrift store the next time I went.  My mother has always been a frustrated interior decorator who now gets to live that dream vicariously through her granddaughter (my daughter) the furniture designer.

I noticed that the latest issue she had was for June.  I checked the address label that was printed directly on each magazine and saw her subscription ran out with that issue.

When I pointed this out to her she just waved her hand dismissively and said not to worry, she would still receive them.  Her reasoning (!) was since she’s taken the magazine for so many years now, they send them to her free of charge. 

(Once, years ago, she received a year’s subscription to “Architectural Digest” because she was on somebody’s list as an interior decorator, but I know that was only a one time deal.  Apparently, it stuck in her head.)

Um, okayyy….Again I pointed out that the labels definitely say “Jun11” for the expiration date.  This means she did, indeed, have a subscription she had paid for at some point and it had run out.  

We are now in September and she didn’t have any new magazines since the final issue in June.

She wouldn’t hear of it.  My mother picked up one of the magazines and triumphantly pointed to the printed address label, which was upside down on all of the magazines.

“See?  The labels are upside down.  That’s a signal to me that they don’t charge me anything for them and I get them free.” 

I tried to patiently say that, no, you aren’t going to get anymore magazines.  Why not re-subscribe since you know you’ve always enjoyed reading them? 

Again, the “coax me” thing reared its head and she insisted she didn’t need the magazines because “my house is already decorated,” which never has mattered before.  She came up with a couple more lame reasons why she didn’t need the magazine, but by that time I was too pooped from a morning at my Zumba class and two hours of grocery shopping to argue any further. 

I admitted defeat and left with my expired magazines in tow.

But when I got home I went online and subscribed to two years of “House Beautiful” for her for her upcoming 92nd birthday on the 12th.

I only hope the labels are on right-side up.

23 thoughts on “Free to a Good Home

  1. Thanks for the heads up and the lessons in patience and persistance and follow through. It’s more than a little scary that my Mom sometimes remembers things more ably than I do. She’s 77, I’m 56 and early onset isn’t unusual in my gene pool. Don’t go swimming here, the water is bad. Still and all, she might get there first. I’m taking notes here, thanks.


  2. Your mother is . . . . precious, as my extremely sane and lovely late Grandma would have said. And you are a patient, amazing daughter.

    But I have to say I love your mother’s spirit, because let’s face it—in the end she got her House Beautiful like she always believed she would.


  3. Oddly enough, my late father had subscribed to a magazine called “Lifestyles.” It is a ritzy, glossy magazine full of articles about rich people and expensive advertising. Believe it or not, I STILL get the magazine and dad died in 2000. He stopped subscribing in 1999. He and I figured that they wanted their subscription base to be high so they could charge for the expensive advertsing. I laugh when it arrives in the mail every other month. But… the labels aren’t upside down!


  4. LOL! We’re all worried that your mother is going to rub your nose in this, thinking that she was right. Please tell me that you had them send her a Gift Card acknowledgement!

    I love the Label-upside-down-so-it’s-free theory. Wonder if that holds true for the labels in the supermarket.


  5. Thanks to all for your comments! I fully intend to tell my mother that her subscription is a birthday gift, but by the time the first issue arrives she’ll probably have forgotten. Let’s just hope they don’t make a mistake and send two issues every month. I’ll never hear the end of it.


  6. Your mom is a laugh riot! I hope I live long enough to receive “free” magazines. Yes, somewhere in the publisher’s office is a file that says: Lifetime free subscribers. And the file folder label is upside down.


  7. I wish I had your patience!
    Took Mom out to dinner the other night for sushi, her favorite, and the conversation devolved, as usual, into complaints about how she is not in charge of her mail anymore….
    A year ago, we discovered a six month backlog of bills, etc on her desk. All her insurance had been cancelled for lack of payment, so her driver’s license was suspended. Hurricane season was upon us with no flood insurance. You get the drift. My sister and my brother, the saint, converged on Florida for an intervention and the result was her mail was forwarded to me and I now handle paying all her bills……it took months to get everything back in place.
    Mom has never been happy with the arrangement, so, with the exception of the important bills, we let the mail revert back to her address.
    Went over to her place last week to gather up all the mail that she doesn’t bother to read (TRANSLATION: ALL OF IT) and found several items that needed attention months ago. SO, when she started in at dinner, I pretty must lost it.

    Did not scream or shout in a public place, but asked her to lean in towards me across the table and said it was time she accepted the fact that she no longer had the inclination to handle her financial affairs ( didn’t I put that nicely) and she should be happy she had a free social secretary.

    Her response: she is going to dis-inherit me because I am so mean. Maybe she will move to be closer to the saint…..


    • Oh, wow, Sara. Deja vu all over again. (If you click on the “mothers” topic under my list of tags, you can read the posts that relate to everything you’ve said here.)

      That’s funny about the social secretary. When I’m out with my mother at the doctor’s, she’s said that about me often. Sometimes she’s appreciative, sometimes not. At least now that she’s turning 92 on Monday, she can’t kvetch about not being allowed (by me) to drive because her driver’s license expires then. Hoorah!

      Please feel free to vent any time you need to, Sara. There are plenty of understanding and sympathetic readers here who are in the same boat!


  8. There is something about parents and magazines. But with my Dad, he’d only read free magazines. Somehow he got free subsriptions to almost everything. How he finagled it I never found out.


  9. What has your mother done to you that causes you to demand she conform to your agenda concerning the way she thinks, talks, looks and Lord knows what else? Ninety-some years old and you insist on brow-beating her over what you want and don’t want.
    Give it a rest, dear, you will feel better and so will your Mom. I know what I am talking about.


    • Herm, thank you for your comment. However, until you walk a mile in my moccasins, you shouldn’t criticize. That’s my mother’s job, and always has been.

      And, by the way, yesterday was her birthday and she was THRILLED with the two year subscription to “House Beautiful” that I gave her.


  10. Hilarious. I have been busy and not followed blogs lately. I forgot how rich with “tips” on how to handle mothers your blog is. My mother is turning the big 80 next month (a yungin’ compared to your sturdy 92 year old!) …and where she finds her absolute thruths behooves me sometimes.There is a lot of “rolling of the eyes” between my sisters and me. Funny…. my grandmother was never that way.
    But I bet my mother thinks otherwise!
    Happy birthday to your feisty 92 year old mother.


  11. Oh Wow! My mom is 94 and in a personal care home. But this really took me back. I don’t know how many times I froze to death, waiting for her to make a decision about a frozen dinner, “Healthy Choice or Lean Cuisine?” ARGGH!!
    Most days now, her mind is out to lunch and I miss some of our conversations.
    But…I don’t miss those trips to the grocery store :{


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