I went over to my 90 year-old mother’s today to get her property tax situation straightened out. She’d had the tax bill since October and, luckily, I noticed an article in our local paper stating the last day to pay without incurring a penalty was Feb. 1., so I still had a window of opportunity to get it taken care of before they sent her up the river for non-payment of taxes.
My mother does look good in orange, but since she is a Virgo and fussy about her appearance, prison jump suits would be just plain tacky.
She’d put the bill in her desk drawer and forgotten about it. This wasn’t the first time she’s done that. She had a payment book for her AARP health insurance and forgot to make two monthly premium payments back in October and November, causing me to scramble to get them paid before they cut her off. (She’s been making these payments like clockwork since 1987.) Fortunately, I got it all corrected and now have her premiums automatically deducted from her checking account every month by electronic funds transfer.
My mother, being my mother, didn’t want to admit that she was the one who screwed up. First, it was the post office’s fault for not delivering the tax statement. That didn’t wash because, obviously, I was standing there with the bill in my hand. Then it was because there was a new tax collector for the county and she was to blame. Again, that didn’t hold up to the light of truth because I still was standing there with the bill in my hand.
I knew I wasn’t getting anywhere, so I just asked her to save any bills she gets and let me handle paying them. That way I don’t have to go into super hero mode and swoop in to save the day when something goes unpaid because she unwittingly put it in her underwear drawer. (That hasn’t happened with a bill yet, but we couldn’t find two expensive prescriptions of hers until months later when they turned up in an unused bathroom drawer which usually had as its sole occupant my mother’s old hair dryer that predates Elvis.)
So, we got all of the financial stuff hashed out, for the time being anyway, and I went about putting together her little boxes that hold her pills for the week and taking care of any other household tasks she needed me to do while I was there. The trash collector had just been by, so Mom asked if I would bring her trash can in from the street and put it into the shed next to her house.
This is where my mother never ceases to amaze me. She can be so inattentive about the important things, but when it comes to anything to do with the neighbors or observing people in general, my mother is a laser beam of focus.
Her front door has a large glass window. As she was looking out of it to tell me that the trash receptacle could be brought in, she noticed something on her lawn. It hadn’t even registered with me, but by golly, she saw it. It was kind of longish and narrow and sort of milky white. My mother squinted her eyes and pursed her lips. In her best Virgo-like voice she pronounced “I think it’s a condom. Don’t pick it up.”
Now, this was an eye-popping statement on several levels, coming as it did from her. First, her neighborhood is not given to crack houses and pimps. It’s a very well-kept street with nice homes in the historical district of town. Her neighbors are either elderly ladies like herself or upwardly mobile families. Not only was it funny to surmise that someone would have left a used condom on her front lawn, but how in the world would that suggestion become planted in the mind of my dear old mother in the first place?
Maybe she watches too much television. With the sound turned up to eleven.
I went out to get the trash can and took a look at the offending article in the grass. Yes, it was long, narrow and white. It was also stiff plastic. It was the peel-off wrapper from a stick of Slim Jim Beef Jerky. I had to smile to myself over the salacious comparisons, contrasts and generally naughty jokes one could make about a condom and the wrapper off a stick of beef jerky.
Maybe I was the one with the problem after all.
Here’s an ATC that’s dedicated to mothers and daughters everywhere.