Friday, February 19, 2010

At Least It Wasn't the Teeth!

Things have been busy around our house lately, to say the least.  We had baby Timmy for a full seven days and nights in late January, due to a combination of work schedule complications for his mom and grandmother and a major snow storm.  The next week, it was 3 days and nights, and in between, we had projects, and another even bigger snow storm.  One day after Snow Storm #2, when Timmy had gone home, I helped my husband deliver Meals on Wheels.  Ice and snow were still everywhere.

My grandmother had called a few evenings earlier, in tears. One of her Sunday School members had died that afternoon.  At age 92, she apparently laid down on her couch and passed away.  The funeral was scheduled for the Wednesday we were out delivering Meals on Wheels.  I had called Mam-ma to see if she needed any groceries.  Yes, she did... and she gave me a list over the phone.  I told her we were also shopping for my mother-in-law, and we would be by later to deliver her items.  She said she was going to her friend's funeral.  I told her I did not think that was a good idea.  "Well," she replied, "Ruby's son has gone to check it out and see if the roads are clear enough for us to go."  For the record, Ruby just celebrated HER 92nd birthday... and while I am sure she still drives fairly well, we are talking 8-9 inches of snow and ice!

I told Mam-ma we might not see her, if she went to the funeral, but I have a key to her house, so we would just put away her groceries and move ahead.  However, while delivering Meals on Wheels, my husband started to leave the home of one of his clients and slipped.  He caught himself and sat down - otherwise, he would have fallen and possibly hurt himself badly.  The sidewalks were icy, and there were several spots of "black ice."  I phoned my grandmother and told her this, and she said, "Well, Ruby's son said the parking lot and sidewalks (at the church) were clear... so if Ruby's going, I'm going."  I told her again I thought that was unwise, and I could tell she was mad at me for saying so.

We turned the corner onto the street where my grandmother lives, and in the shade, that 8-9 inches of snow had turned to a thick slab of ice that had not thawed.  Her driveway looked like a luge run at the Olympics.  This was NOT good.  We entered her house, and I said, "Mam-ma, your driveway is terrible!" and she swung around and yelled, "I'm not a goin', so THERE!"  I replied, "You can just be mad at me... at least you will be safe."  "Well, we're not goin'!" she said, angrily.  I turns out that Ruby's son came by my grandmother's to deliver her sewing machine, which had been serviced at a local dealer's.  When the son saw the icy street and driveway, he told his mother she could not drive herself and Mam-ma to the funeral.  So Mam-ma was mad at me AND Ruby's son!

We unpacked the groceries, and my husband sat down to visit with my grandmother while I dispensed her medicine.  We commented after we left that Mam-ma simply refuses to cooperate.  She fails to recognize that a fall on ice could result in the end of her living alone in her own home - if not the end of her!  During the first snow, I arrived one day to see her shovel propped against the garage door.  I asked her why it was there, and she said, "Well, I had to shovel a path to my mailbox... but my nice neighbor saw me and came and did it for me."  That nice neighbor had emergency multiple heart bypass surgery a few years ago and did not need to be shoveling snow, either!  My grandmother knew this, but that didn't stop her from allowing it!

While we were at my grandmother's, she mentioned that she had terrible static again on her telephone line.  We called the phone company once last fall for this, and the lineman supposedly repaired this.  My husband had tested the phone lines in the house and determined the problem was somewhere between the pole and the house.  So we told my grandmother we would call and report this latest static.  The baby came, things happened, and honestly, I forgot.  Until today...

It started with a phone call from Mam-ma this morning - "You need to call the boys at the phone company" (Oh, shoot, I thought... I meant to do that last week...) - you need to call the phone company and tell them my power is off."

Me: "Your power is off?"
Mam-ma: "Yes."
Me: "Then I need to call the power company, not the phone company!"
Mam-ma: "Well whatever..."

I called the power company - they would have power restored between 11:30 and 12:30 (this was about 10:30). It has been a gorgeous, WARM day here - up in the 60's - and when I called her about noon to see if she had power, she did, and she said, "I tell you what - this WEATHER - it was really startin' to get cold in here in just that short a time."   I promise, this was happenin' - not possible, but she had cranked up her heat to warm things up!

I had talked to my sister, and she said, "Well, she's not going to be in a good mood." Was she ever right! When I called Mam-ma at noon, I told her, "Now your hair appointment is not until 2:00. I know you think it's at 1:30, but it's not... it's at 2:00, and I will be there in plenty of time to get you." "Well, okay..." she said. She has argued with me in recent weeks that "I don't know WHEN we changed from 1:30 to 2:00," and I cannot convince her that her appointment was NEVER at 1:30. It dawned on me that this is why Mam-ma thought I was late last week and was calling for me and waiting with her walker on the driveway. She has it in her head that we go 30 minutes earlier than her 2:00 p.m. appointment.

I got to Mam-ma's house, and she was a little rattled... she forgot her purse and had to go back for it. And she had the same empty can of disinfectant that must have come from one of her shopping trips with Ruby - some off-off-off brand I've never seen that she SWEARS I bought for her at Wal-mart. I told her, "I bought you disinfectant 2 weeks ago." She got all upset... she keeps a can in her bathroom and one in the kitchen. "So you need another can?" Yes, she did. I told her that was simple enough and all she had to say... but she was still upset with me and insisted that "you got that can of country fresh disinfectant somewhere for me... I think Wal-Mart." I told her WalMart has NEVER had that brand, that I recall... and I was fairly sure I did not, but I would be happy to buy her another can of something today.

We got to Mam-ma's hair done and I bought her groceries and mine. I remembered that I had promised to take her walker to have the "feet" seen about, and when I picked her up, I asked, "Do you still want to do that today?" She started in, "Well yes, they are just plumb wore out! I need some rubber tips on there instead of them brakes and wheels." I told her, "You can just go in and tell them yourself." BIG MISTAKE!!!

I took her in, and she started in telling the medical supply personnel how the bottom covering on her walker was worn out. We determined that I bought that walker on November 13th, and the man asked if she used it outside, and I spoke up and said, "No, you fixed another one for her to use outside and in the yard. This is her walker for church and indoors." So the man and his partner discussed what she needed, and I can't remember what he asked Mam-ma, but she said very snidely, "Well of COURSE!" like he was the stupidest person on the planet. I just shook my head... but I wanted to shake her! Then, the girl decided she did need just rubber tips, and she went to get a new set of legs from the back that would accommodate the tips. Mam-ma asked, "Well just how much is that gonna cost me?" The guy winked and said, "Oh, not too much."

The girl came back with the legs for the walker, and she put them on, and the man asked Mam-ma something else, and again, very snidely, she retorted, "Well of COURSE!" like he was an idiot, and under my breath to the woman, I said, "I am so sorry," and she laughed and brushed it off and said, "nah... that's okay."  And... there was no charge for the tips/legs. Mam-ma asked, "Well what happens when these wear out?" The girl answered, "Come back in and we'll fix you up again."

So we got out in the parking lot, and Mam-ma said, "These won't last... the concrete will eat them right up." #1... she got what she wanted, and #2, I pointed out she didn't use this walker on concrete much. She wheeled around and looked at me like *I* was an idiot and said, "Oh, yes, I do." I asked, "You don't use this walker when you walk around the block, do you?" She answered... "Yes." I told her, "Mam-ma... we got you fixed up with another walker for outside... you have this walker for using at church and when you go with Ruby to play dominoes and shopping... and the outside walker for your yard and for walking on the street."

Mam-ma: "Well, I didn't know that."
Me: "Yes, you DID know that... we talked about it, and I'm pretty sure I wrote 'OUTSIDE' on that walker, so you would know which was which!"
Mam-ma (meekly, and with a whine):  "Well, I didn't know." 

Then she started to cry and said, "I guess I should just stay home." I asked her why, and she said, "Because I'm just so much trouble." I told her she was NOT trouble, but she needed to pay closer attention to what I tell her.

We got home, and sure enough, FOLDED UP in the corner in her garage is the walker with the wheels that rotate for better balance in the yard and on the street, clearly marked in TWO PLACES - OUTSIDE. I showed it to her, and she said, "Well, I didn't know." I told her, "If you have any questions, just look on the bar. If it says OUTSIDE, you use it when you walk around the block. Do NOT use this one with the new tips except for church and going somewhere like that." "Well, I'll try," she whined.

I put away her groceries and realized she did not have enough medicine to get through next Friday, so I sat down to fix that. She started in about wanting me to fix her answering machine and telephone - it was blinking from the power outtage. I sat down to adjust the clock and the message, and I needed the instructions. They were in her desk... she handed them to me... they were in Spanish! I told her never mind, I figured it out, but by then she had found the English instructions and gone to her bedroom for something.

She came back asking, "What am I gonna do about this blanket? It won't turn off." What blanket? Her electric blanket... it had been "on" since the power came back on, and it wouldn't turn off. It turns out it was malfunctioning - a digital thing. I unplugged it from the wall - by working my arm behind her bed - and replugged it and everything was fine... then I heard her mutter, "I guess I'll crawl under the bed and unplug it." Geez! I told her no... I had already done that and FIXED it!

Her phone in the bedroom is still full of static, so I told her we would bring a phone and check it out soon. I called the phone company, but they think it's a phone problem. So we will see. Meanwhile, she said, "Well, I sure hate to have to buy another phone." I told her I seriously doubt she will... and besides, they are not that expensive. I think we have another old one we can give her... my husband is going to look. Then she started in about something else and I finally said, "Mam-ma, I HAVE to go, or my cold groceries are going to spoil." Looking like she had just discovered that I had cold groceries, she said, "Oh, I'm sorry - you just go on." I thought if I spent another minute in that house I might scream - or suffocate! (She obviously kicked the heat up several notches to compensate for the power outtage and how cold her house had become.) 

Oh, and she showed me pillowcases she finished embroidering for herself, and I complimented the work, and she said, "Well I sure wish I could do something about these glasses." I reminded her the doctor said there was nothing to do, and she said, "Yes, he said he could make me some bifocals for reading and close-up work." I asked, didn't her glasses that she wears now have bifocals? She looked at me like I was crazy and said, "These glasses I wear have bifocals in 'em, but they don't work." So she dropped that, and I prayed silently, "Lord, don't let her mention her teeth next!" That little wrinkle - or is it a bubble? - seems to have passed for the moment. (She told me in the middle of Snowstorm #1 that "something has to be done about these teeth!"  She had worked on her dentures herself, and apparently she was able to adjust them and remove the "blister" bubble that appeared.  The dentist had told her to stick a pin in the bubble to deflate it, then file it with an emery board.  Apparently that worked.)

Bless her heart... she just is such a mess. Her neighbor had brought her a beautiful vase of fresh flowers that was on the kitchen table - a "bouquet" she made from extra flowers at her church.  Another neighbor had left the paper for her in the doorway. And the a couple from her church had taken her out to eat last night. I asked if it was good, and she said, "Not really - they didn't have any chicken livers." I told her I'd only eaten at this particular restaurant once, but I didn't recall seeing any chicken livers, and she said, "Well I guess they don't have 'em!" She said her fish was too crispy, and "I just thought about what your daddy said - eat what you can and leave the rest." Don't you know she got her money's worth?!

Needless to say, I was very glad to get home to my husband and two cats and my quiet house.  We kept Timmy last night while my sister worked, and he is now crawling and pulling up on EVERYTHING and requiring every-minute attention so he doesn't get into something he shouldn't.  But he is less challenging than my grandmother.  My niece, who is a CNA at a local nursing home said, "You know dressing and undressing babies and old people is a lot a like - but old people give you a whole lot more trouble!"  I think that could be said about a lot of things.  Like I said, at least she didn't mention a trip to the dentist today.  But then again, I may not have given her quite enough time... and the weekend has just begun!