Notes from the Eldercare Underground:
I went over to my mother’s today to fill her little pill boxes and found her wearing one of her nicer outfits, expecting me to take her grocery shopping at Wal-Mart.
The only thing is, we did that last week.
So since she was all dressed up with essentially no place to go, I suggested we go there anyway. This way she could get a chance to look around at the things she usually wants to look at after we’ve got a grocery cart full of frozen food and ice cream. When the outside temperature is 100 and climbing.
My mother being my mother, whatever I suggest is always met with a negative from her. This seems to perk her up in some strange way that I’ve found unexplainable. Maybe it’s a control thing.
She usually has to be coaxed to do something, even though I can tell she really wants to do it. Most often it takes about three tries and today was no different. After saying a couple of times she didn’t want to go out, the third time was the charm and she said yes, she would.
Off to Wal-Mart we went and almost immediately got into a battle over a plant she wanted to buy and plant outside on the north side of her house where it doesn’t get any sun.
In compacted soil.
In a drought.
With watering allowed only once a week.
In 100 degree weather.
And the plant was an indoor plant.
And a tropical one at that, which can’t withstand temps. under 65, where we had days last winter in the teens and single digits.
I suggested she put it in her enclosed sun porch (with the operative words being sun porch, where an indoor plant like this would think it was in heaven), but she stubbornly said she had two plants there already and didn’t want this one there, she wanted it outside, where it was sure to die a lingering death.
If she could have stamped her foot and pouted and gotten away with it, I think she would have.
I was in for some fun today.
So we moved on.
As we passed the cosmetic aisle, her previously critical frown brightened and she said this was the area she was looking for, swiftly steering her cart past the display of lipsticks toward the bottles of liquid foundation.
Over her shoulder she said “Remember that makeup you got for me?”
I did. It’s only been about a month since I picked out a nice brand of liquid foundation for her in a shade that wasn’t so dark and orangey as the stuff she’d just run out of. At the time, she’d approved my choice without any comment and it went into the shopping cart.
No complaints in the weeks that followed. Until today.
“Well, you know,” she went on, “it only puts out just a couple of little drops when I push on the top.”
I started to tell her that it’s supposed to be that way and all she has to do is pump some more out if that’s not enough, but she cut me off by saying “And I never liked that color anyway.”
But it gets better. Her criticism complete, she turns back to the foundations and says “Oh, forget it. I don’t want any,” and moves off down the aisle, leaving me to contemplate what has just occurred here.
After about forty-five minutes of my mother’s brand of Chinese Water Torture, we headed back to her house after picking up lunch at the drive-thru at Dairy Queen.
Now, I have to interject here by saying that the whole “no more plants in the sun porch” thing was precipitated by another battle I had recently with her over “The Poinsettia.”
My mother had received a rather large poinsettia plant from my brother (I’ll call him Saint Timothy) when he swept down from Colorado with his wife for a visit between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
My mother tended the plant well and it lasted for a long time, well beyond the life expectancy of most holiday poinsettia. But they’re really not intended to live forever, or else how would poinsettia growers make any profit if everyone’s plant survived from season to season?
Hers gradually went from this:
Actually, it looked a lot worse than this, if that’s possible. No leaves, no color….just a bunch of hollow, brown, dry stems. Deader than dead.
When I easily broke off some stalks to show my mother that the plant was, indeed, a goner, she acted like I was breaking the bones of some religious relic.
Little did I know.
She refused to toss it out. I asked her why in the world would she want to keep something that was obviously deceased like that.
She said it’s because Saint Timothy gave it to her.
Ah. Of course.
No matter that it probably (no make that definitely) was thought of and selected by his wife (you know, “what’s her name”) and Saint Timothy didn’t have anything to do with it except for the delivery. “He” wanted her to have it, and by god, that sucker wasn’t going anywhere.
The other day, after we went around again about “The Poinsettia,” she phoned me to tell me that she’d thrown it out. Fine.
Today, at lunch, she apparently was emboldened enough from her successful CWT to tell me that she hadn’t thrown it out after all.
She’d hidden it.
All of this brought back memories of that famous Monty Python sketch:
“The Dead Parrot.” Enjoy.