Monday, July 12, 2010

Money Talks...

It's taken me several days to write about all that has happened with my Mam-ma recently.  I arrived at her house on Friday in time to dispense her medicine for the next 2 weeks.  As usual, there were some days where she had failed to take everything as dispensed.  That is getting to be a common occurrence... although some weeks it's worse than others.  This week, she had not taken her noon-time meds.  I handed them to her and she said, "It's because I didn't eat dinner (lunch in the South)."  "You didn't eat dinner?"  "No, I snacked, so I never sat down at the table."  At least we confirmed she had eaten... and she took the meds.

I mentioned to Mam-ma that I had seen her friend Ruby at the hairdresser's.  I was there to get a pedicure... some post-birthday pampering.  Mam-ma immediately said, "I sure need to have my feet seen about... they are awful."  I said, "Well, we need to get you set up for a pedicure."  She said she could not afford it, and I told her, "It costs $25.  You just got a gift card from your bank for $25... you could use it for a pedicure."  She opened the envelope from the bank and looked at the VISA card.  She did not understand why she had received it, and I explained that the bank had recently revamped their online banking, and this was a gift to customers to compensate for the inconvenience.  I had received one, and so had she. 

"This would be a great use of your money," I suggested.  She sat down at the kitchen table where I was working and looked at the contents of the envelope and then said, dejectedly, "Well, I suspect I'd better spend that on groceries."  I stopped and looked at her and said, "Mam-ma... two minutes ago, you didn't even know you had this $25.  You have plenty of money for groceries.  This is 'found money.'  If you want a pedicure, this would be a great way to pay for it... and a good use of your gift card."  She didn't say anything else about the pedicure, but she asked how to use the card. I explained that she could use it at any store... the grocery store, Fred's, Wal-Mart... just hand it to the clerk, and he/she would handle it for her.  She tucked it into her purse and said, "I'd better put this in here where I will know where it is."

I finished with the medicine, and we started gathering everything for the trip to the beauty shop.  I always check her doors to make sure they are locked, the stove to ensure all burners are off, and the coffee maker to see that it is unplugged.  She checks her purse to make sure she has enough to pay the hairdresser, we get her garage door remote opener, and we head for the garage to collect her walker and load into the car.  As we were walking out the door, she said, "When I get back, me and Ruby are going to eat a meatloaf sandwich and sliced tomatoes."  I told her that sounded good... and it did!

While Mam-ma got her hair done, I ran some errands and bought her groceries - milk, buttermilk, candy, and a loaf of bread (the cheapest loaf of white bread Wal-Mart sells).  When I picked her up at the beauty shop, a friend of hers was there, and I asked, "Was Verna getting a perm?"  "No, she was getting a pedicure."  I told Mam-ma I didn't realize her hairdresser did pedicures, and she said, "Both of them do."  I said, "Hmmm... I wonder what they charge."  "$25," came the reply.  So she had asked!  I suggested she should consider getting one some Friday.  No response.

Mam-ma had given me a Wal-Mart gift card and asked me to "find out how much money is left on this."  I told her, "By the way... there was eleven cents left on your gift card.  It's in my purse."  "Eleven cents," she commented... "well, you can just keep that!" She said it as if she had just awarded me a bonus of $1100!  WOW... thanks!  Then she asked, "Did you ever buy new kitchen stuff with your birthday money?"  I was surprised she remembered that but not some of the other events of the week.  I told her yes, I had just purchased some things - that I had not felt well enough to go to the store before then.  She was very pleased with my purchases.

We got home, and I unpacked the sack of groceries and headed for the door, telling Mam-ma that I had frozen groceries of my own that needed to be put away... it was terribly hot and things were not staying cold long.  I said, "You and Ruby enjoy your meatloaf sandwiches."  She looked rather sad and said, "Well, I don't have a thing to go with them."  I couldn't believe it.  I had just come from the store... I could have bought anything she wanted/needed... and I was not going back now!  I said, "You told me you were going to have meatloaf sandwiches and sliced tomatoes."  She said, "That's right... but I don't have anything to go with them."  I replied, "Well, I'm sure you will figure out something."  I didn't know what else to say.  I said good-bye, and as I headed out the door, she said, "Call me sometime!"  I nodded "okay" and left.

The next morning I went to an auction, and when I returned, there was a telephone message - a pitiful voice saying, "It's just Mam-ma."  I called her back... but got no answer.  I guess she was out with Ruby somewhere.  I left a message, and later she called... "I didn't really need anything... but I need a ride to a birthday party for my friend next Sunday." 

Mam-ma's friend, Lois, will be 101.  Mam-ma has gone to her birthday party for the last few years now... always a bar-b-que lunch at a local campground the woman's family owns.  Mam-ma has wanted me to go with her for years, and it's just never worked out.  For one thing, I have food allergies and must be careful what I eat.  Mam-ma does not understand this and tells me, "If you'd just eat what you want to, you'd be fine."  So she will not understand if I go and don't eat.  At any rate, I told her I know of no reason I can't take her this Sunday, but I would have to check with Greg and see if there is anything I'm forgetting.  She said, "Well, I knew you would have to do that!"  I don't know what she meant by that, and I didn't question it.

She also told me that the person who called to invite her said, "If you don't have a ride, we'll send someone for you - we just don't know who yet."  So it's not like she can't go to this party if I don't take her.  I asked what time she wanted to go - they will start serving lunch at noon.  She said, "Well, I'd like to go early and visit with Lois."  I don't know how they visit - Lois can not hear well at all... and Mam-ma is not far behind her.  So that should be interesting.  Here's a picture of them taken by my friend, David Baker, at last year's party.  Lois is on the left. I think that is a great-grand-daughter in the middle, and Mam-ma is on the right.

Every day is an adventure - and a challenge.  Mam-ma has yet to mention her trip to pick plums and the scare she gave everyone to me... nor did she remember anything about my birthday except to ask if I spent her gift money on what I told her I was going to buy.  I will be shocked if she lets go of that $25 for a pedicure... and I am not going to force her to do so.  If it didn't go as she hoped, I'd never hear the end of it.

I'm learning to sort of roll with the punches... and as long as she is relatively safe, I'm letting Mam-ma pretty well do as she pleases.  It's easier for both of us.  I never know what will happen next... but then, with Mam-ma, that's really nothing new!

1 comment:

Mark said...

I have a feeling that a LOT of what you write here are things my father went through while caring for his aging mother. I was with him several times when he refilled her pill boxes labeled with the day, wound her various clocks (one cuckoo), and paid her bills by filling out checks in her checkbook. She certainly still baked a mean lemon pie, chocolate pie, pumpkin pie, banana pudding (not instant!), and many other wonderful things. To take her oven and/or stove away certainly would have been akin to stealing part of her soul.

Taking her driving privileges away, however, was a blessing and something she didn't miss much because she didn't learn how until much later in life, anyway.

My parents just left this morning with our son, for a week of fun in and around the home where I grew up. I doubt they'll bump into you and/or Mam-ma, but it's neat to think they could.