Thursday, March 11, 2010

Catching Up...

I guess you could say it's been a quiet two weeks... quiet in comparison to the noted "walker" incident.  I arrived the following Friday to get my grandmother to the hairdresser, and I asked if she was using the "outside" walker.  She harrumphed and said, "YOU try that thing!"  She insisted she couldn't maneuver it and had nearly fallen... and that she wore herself out trying to walk with it.  So I walked the walker out into the street and back, and maybe there is a slight learning curve, since the front wheels rotate 360 degrees, but the idea is to have something more flexible if she hits a bump and not rigid front wheels that only go in one direction.  The people at the medical supply store thought that could contribute to a fall.

After about a dozen stern remarks that started with, "Well, I tell you what..." I said, "You know... you have money... if you don't want to use this walker, use the 'good' one for everything, and when it wears out, we'll pay $50 or so and get you a new one."  "Ohwe no, we won't!" she replied.  I reminded her that yes, we paid $50 for the "new" walker in November, and that this was what they cost - or more - but she has money, and if she chooses to spend it on walkers, that's fine. I put her in the car, still spouting "I tell you whats," and tried to change the subject as we drove to the hairdresser's.

For the third time in a row, my grandmother had Lysol on her grocery list and some off-off-brand can of disinfectant sitting on the table.  I said, "Mam-ma, you sure are using a lot of Lysol.  I just bought you a can last week and two weeks before that."  "No you didn't!" she said.  "Yes, I did," I said nicely... "let's just find the can I bought last week."  I followed her to her bathroom, and the can I had bought at Wal-Mart the previous Friday was sitting on her bathroom sink vanity.  "See... it's right here," I told her, picking up the can.  "No, that's not it!" she said, reaching under her cabinet... "you never bought me any... see... I need THIS!"  Well, THIS was a bottle of Pine Sol!  Now, there is a huge difference between Lysol and Pine Sol.  I laughed and said, "Ohhhhh... that's totally different!"  She answered, "Well, whatever... that's what I need!"  So I guess I am supposed to have ESP an know that "Lysol" for the third time on the list actually means Pine Sol.

When I picked Mam-ma up from the hairdresser's, she said, "I'm a gonna get a permanent next week, if the weather is right."  I stupidly asked, "What's the weather got to do with it?" and she wheeled around and looked at me as if I was from Mars and said, "Have you not ever had a permanent?"  I told her I had had dozens... since childhood... and she said, "Well, they don't 'take' well if it's cloudy!"  I had never heard that one!  About the time she made this declaration, the hairdresser walked up and I said, "Mam-ma wants a permanent next week."  Pat replied, "Yes, I know... if the weather is right."  I told her Mam-ma was saying that the perms didn't "take" well if it was cloudy, and she laughed under her breath and muttered, "I never heard that one before!"  On the way home, I told Mam-ma, "You know, if you are waiting for a nice day of weather in Arkansas to get your permanent, you may never get one!"  She said, "Well, whatever... I guess I'll just get one next week, and if it don't hold, so be it."  Thankfully for everyone concerned, the weather on Friday was FANTASTIC, and Mam-ma got her perm!

Last week, a dear friend of mine, Olive Baldridge, passed away.  Olive was 97 - her birthday just a few days different from my Mam-ma's - both of them born in November 1912.  Olive had moved to Little Rock to live with her daughter, Julie, a few months ago, and on Saturday night, she put on her nightgown, watched taped episodes of Wheel of Fortune and The Price is Right, then told Julie she was going to bed.  As was her custom, she made a walk-thru of the house checking things, and when she didn't return about 10 minutes later, Julie went to look for her.  She found her mother sitting on the couch in the living room... and Olive was gone. 

Olive was a dynamic lady - a force to be reckoned with in the Democratic Party - and a very stylish and classy woman.  She was a Navy wife, then assisted her optometrist husband in his practice.  After his death, she devoted her time and energy to community projects, her beloved Presbyterian church, and of course, the county Democratic Party.  Olive told me once that anyone who ran for office in our county as a Democrat came to her first for a stamp of approval.  She vetted ALL of the Democratic candidates in our county.  A memorial service was held at the Presbyterian church one afternoon last week, followed by a beautiful sandwich/cookie reception that Olive would have loved.  The little church was packed with local friends and family members - many that we lovingly refer to in our small community as the "Old Guard" - and politicians from throughout the state... all Democrats, of course!

Mam-ma and Olive were acquaintances, but not really friends, so she did not attend the funeral, although she did phone me that morning to say, "I guess I'm not going."  I had not offered to take her.  Mam-ma generally does not "do" funerals any more... even those of close friends or relatives... so it had not occurred to me that she would even consider going to this one.  She really seemed okay with not attending.

This makes two ladies in my grandmother's age group who have virtually sat down and died in the last month.  Another was a lady in Mam-ma's domino group and Sunday School class.  She laid down on her couch for a rest and never got up.  What a way to go!  It was as if both ladies said, subconsciously, "Okay, I've done enough... and I'm ready," and they just sailed off to heaven!  How I wish this could be the way for so many of us... and how I hope my grandmother's transition is as easy some day.

Meanwhile, my grandmother is still quite busy.  The other day she showed me two new pillowcases she has embroidered with pink flowers and delicate butterflies.  She is making felt baby shoes with embroidery "just for fun." She reads - novels, the daily newspaper, and her Bible.  She follows the news on television and has her favorite shows, including Wheel of Fortune!  And she is still full of spit and vinegar, just lately informing friends of my cousins who sent her a huge box of canned vegetables from their garden and homemade soup that "everything was too salty!"  My cousins wanted the floor to open and suck them in, but that didn't seem to faze Mam-ma.  I doubt the friends will ever be so generous again!

Mam-ma told my sister that she tried the "outside walker" again, and it hurt her back.  My sister told her to put it away and use the other one.  Apparently she has to hear this from everyone!

We've been keeping our baby Timothy for a couple of days, which always provides joy and balance.  This morning, Mam-ma called and wanted to know what day it was.  I was feeding Timothy at the time.  I asked her why she was asking, and she said, "Well, my aide didn't come today, and I wondered why... but she comes on Friday, not Thursday, so that's why!"  That as all she needed... for today.  Usually, she has a pretty good handle on what day it is, because her week is fairly structured.  But for some reason, today was one of those days.  I am left to wonder if again tomorrow, she will have added Lysol to her grocery list.