Sunday, October 24, 2010

Apparently We Still Don't Understand!

Last Monday, my grandmother called my mother and asked, "Do you want some turnip greens?"  Mom told her no, and asked, "Where did you get greens?"  Mam-ma replied that a church member had left them on her doorstep.  Mom told her to leave them there, and she (Mom) would get them later.  Mam-ma replied, "I've already got them in the sink, and I'm washing them. Mom sorta lost it and said, "I'll be right there."  She called me and told me about this and said, "I'm going right now to get those greens.  I may put them down the disposal."  I somehow knew she would not do this.

There are two versions of this story - Mom's and my grandmother's.  And amazingly, in most spots, the stories parallel!  Mam-ma's version is that "Your momma chewed my butt but good.  She talked awful to me."  Mom's version is that "I did talk pretty strongly to her, but she screamed at me... 'Just what am I supposed to do?'"  Mom told her she was supposed to cooperate.  To make a long story short, Mam-ma had started to wash and de-stem the greens, which she says she "loves to do."  Mom says nobody in their right mind likes to wash turnip greens, which is a long, tedious process in cold water.

This really is not good for my grandmother - she has to stand hunched over the sink, and she has problems with her neck and shoulders as it is.  This is not the best posture for her.  But she absolutely loves turnip greens.  They are like gold to her, and she assumes everyone else feels the same.  Never mind that her deacon has brought them to her recently - fully cooked and seasoned and ready to eat.  She was doing these for us, she said.  She told me on the phone, "I aimed for you to have some of those greens."  Mom said she even telephoned later and gave Mom's husband the message to "save some of those greens for Debbie." 

Mom finished washing the greens and sorting them - and some did indeed go in the disposal - and then she cooked them.  She said, "I will probably gag trying to eat them."  Now she feels badly that she let something as seemingly insignificant as a bag full of green leaves cause such an argument between her and her mother-in-law, but as she put it, "Your Mam-ma just knows how to push my buttons."  And I understand that... she pushes mine, too!  But Mom says that next time - and there probably will be a next time - she will just go get the greens and keep her mouth shut.

I think another thing that upset Mom is that this is the one man in her church who she knew took raw produce to my grandmother - and Mom had not found time to contact him and let him know we're not allowing Mam-ma to use her stove any more.  So she was mad at herself... and upset with Mam-ma... and it just was not pretty in the end.

It has now been about 10 days since the infamous car wreck, and and other than being upset that she can no longer ride with her friend Ruby, and her "life is over," Mam-ma has seemed to do fine.  In fact, by mid-week, she was not even mentioning her chest when we spoke.

All of this changed on Thursday.  Apparently Ruby mentioned that she was changing her closet and removing the summer clothing and putting in the winter clothing.  While she was at it, she was going to do some cleaning, and she would be taking some discarded things to the thrift store.  Mam-ma decided she had some closets that needed cleaning, too.  Ruby said that she told Mam-ma to place her things on the spare bed, and she (Ruby) would fold them and put them into plastic bags and take them to the thrift store for her when she went.

First of all, Ruby is recovering from broken ribs as the result of a fall last month, as well as her own jarring from the car wreck.  She really doesn't need to be hauling my grandmother's things to the thrift store for her. And secondly, Mam-ma doesn't need to try to clean her closets by herself.  Nonetheless, when Ruby went to get the clothing, it was already sacked and in my grandmother's garage.

I took Timothy to get a hair cut on Thursday morning, and while we were out, we went by Mam-ma's for a visit. She was so glad to see Timothy, but she said she had worked hard all morning cleaning closets, and that Ruby had taken "a ton" of things to the thrift store.  Ruby's story is that it was three very small shopping sacks of clothing.  Mam-ma asked me if I thought my mother-in-law would like to have some feather pillows.  I told her I did not think so... why was she getting rid of feather pillows?  "Well," she replied, "I don't need them, and I'm a gettin' rid of things." She also called my mom and asked her if she would like to have a lamp she was no longer using.

Thursday evening, Mam-ma called me about 8:30 and said, "I am going to take two Tylenol and go to bed.  My chest is killing me.  I hurt so bad."  And she sounded awful.  I asked her... was it her heart?  No, it was her chest... that breast bone above her breasts.  I told her it sounded like she over-did it with the cleaning. She agreed.  She indicated she had worked cleaning closets all afternoon.  I asked if she planned to take her anti-anxiety medication, too, and she said, "Not now... maybe later in the night."  I deduced that she must not be that bad, or she would have taken it, too.  She seldom hesitates to take one if she is feeling anxious. 

She also said to me, "You know, when Ruby fell, they didn't find her broken ribs on the x-rays at the hospital."  I knew where this was going.  The broken ribs were determined four days later in the clinic of Ruby's primary care physician.  I told Mam-ma, "If your ribs were broken, we would already have been to the doctor.  You were not even complaining until you over-did things today.  You've strained something."  She replied, "Well, you just don't know how bad I hurt!"

I told Mam-ma, "I have the baby tonight - I cannot come stay with you."  She said, "I know... I'll just have to tough it out.  I'll make it somehow."  I phoned my mom to alert her that Mam-ma was not having a good night and she might be calling.  But she didn't.  And the next morning, she indicated she was better, though not by much.

When I arrived to get Mam-ma for the beauty shop, she seemed a little slower and more confused than usual.  We looked at her grocery list, which was mostly household things like laundry detergent and Lysol for the housekeeper to use for cleaning.  She did need candy bars and milk.  She didn't have that much to say on the way to the beauty shop, but on the way home, she told me, "Ruby just can't understand WHY I hurt so in my chest. I told her, 'Ruby, you have no idea how bad I hurt.'"  I know that she told Ruby, "I hurt like HELL!" 

I did not comment.  I really didn't know what to say.  We got out of the car at Mam-ma's house, and she said, "If I'd a thought last night, I'd a taken that pill the doctor give me instead of them two Tylenol.  And I may just take it tonight."  She was referring to the one Flexeril (which is a muscle relaxer) that the doctor handed her in the ER to take when she got home the night of the wreck.  When we got home, she said, "Now I'm not taking that... I'll just take two Tylenol."  However, she made me leave it with her, and I knew it was only a matter of time before she took it.  I reviewed all of this medication's side effects with her on the discharge papers, and I told her, "Greg's mother had virtually every single one of these when she took the same drug for her back trouble a few weeks ago."  She said, "I know all about that!" Again, I just dropped it.

But I knew that at some point, she would not be able to resist the temptation to take this muscle relaxer.  So when we she said she might take it Friday night, I reminded her, "It will make you woozy."  She retorted, "Well, I'll just take it and go to bed."  And apparently she did.  My mother's husband was there to repair something the next morning, and he said she was weak and wobbly, and Mom said she probably had a hangover.  This morning she overslept and was unable to go to church.  But she did go to lunch with my mom and her husband, and she went to church with them this evening, so the fog is apparently clearing somewhat.

Friday, I refilled all of Mam-ma's medicine compartments, and the noontime medication for two consecutive days of the previous week was still in the boxes.  I showed it to her, and she said, "I know about that... that was for last week."  I said, "Yes, but you still didn't take it."  She said, "I know, and I said, 'Debbie is going to chew me out good over that."  I didn't say anything, but then I opened up the current week's compartments, and there was noontime medicine for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  I said, "Mam-ma... look here.  You have not taken your medicine at noon today."  "No, I haven't," she said.  I added... "And you didn't take it yesterday or the day before."  "Yes, I did," she said.  "No, you didn't," I countered... "It's still here."  "Well, I don't know what to tell you.  I always take it!"  I assured her that it doesn't miraculously just reappear in those compartments.

She countered... "Well, those meals (Meals on Wheels) come before I'm ready to eat, and it just makes me forget."  I told her, "The arrival of your meal should be your reminder to take your medicine.  That doesn't make sense."  She answered, disgustedly, "Well, I guess I'll just have to go to sittin' out that medicine to remind myself."  I told her whatever worked was what she would have to do.  I also told her to go ahead and take her noontime medicine for that day.  She made a HUGE production out of it... moaning and coughing and saying, "Oh! Oh! Oh!  That hurts so bad. Oh, you don't know how bad that hurts."

Mam-ma also told me that the hairdresser "liked to killed me."  Apparently it was not comfortable to lie back for a shampoo, and she said, "I told her, 'Now I can't do this.  You're a killin' me.'"  That poor hairdresser.  Mam-ma said she told her, "I don't know what we are going to do with you," but she was somehow able to finagle the chair height and finish the shampoo.  The hairdresser never let on to me at all that anything had happened.  We are so blessed to have such loving, caring people who exhibit tremendous patience with my grandmother... like her hairdresser, her deacon, and her housekeeper, as well as many others.

Mam-ma is still complaining to my mom about her chest - and sometimes to me.  Last night I called to see if she had taken her medicine, and she said she had.  I asked, "Did you take it at noon?"  She replied, "Only after your momma called and reminded me."  I just don't know about this!  I told her I am having the entire family - even cousins - over for a chili supper on Thursday night, and she said, "Well, I hope I feel like coming.  We'll just have to see."  Do you really think she would miss it?  Mom says that she was the "belle of the ball" tonight at their church Fall Festival... and several men fussed over her and made her day!  Mom said she passed by as one man who was talking to Mam-ma pointed at her (Mom) and asked, "... and she is guilty?"  Mam-ma replied, "YES!"  Mom said she held up her hands and said, "Not me... I'm not guilty!" and walked away. 

Clearly, we still do not understand!

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