After many hours of attempting to do yoga and calming myself with some Zen-type mantras, I thought I was at last mentally prepared to do lunch with the Mother of all Mothers on Mother’s Day: my mother in-law.
Since The Kid opted out of spending time with his granny in light of an offer to go swimming with his bff, and since Hubs is out of town gracing parts of California with his fumbling presence, I was left to the task of entertaining Granny on my own.
Currently residing in what she refers to as “The Home,” she is always chock full of stories to tell about her neighbors and other tenants. Naturally, given her state of “advanced age” as the doctor refers to it, her short term memory is somewhat questionable.
Most of the stories she tells I have heard numerous times already. When I explain that I have heard the story, trying to be delicate in doing so, she will say, “Oh, then I must have told you about so and so...”
And, of course, yes, she already has.
However, given that she can’t remember what we just talked about 20 seconds prior to, the conversations get repeated round and round.
I try to change the subject but somehow we always come back to a tale that is often repeated in my dreams at night. Over and over again.
So I show up at her door, expecting her to be dressed and clicking her heels to go out and have lunch.
She is certainly dressed, but her hair is all over the place and she is in one major funk.
I think about that valium my neighbor offered and mentally kick myself for not taking it.
“Hey girl!” I say loudly through her screen door, as I make my way in, “You ready to go yet?”
She rocks in her chair with a sour look on her face and says, “I think I may cry.”
I put my foot against the chair to stop her rocking it and say, “No cryin’ on my watch. Get your fanny up and let’s get a move on!”
She likes to wallow in the fact that she is a widow. Has been for four years. It’s not just feeling sorry for herself, either. It’s gone way beyond that. She has been to the point of needing therapy for quite some time, but refuses to get help. She would rather talk about her troubles to all of the family ... or rather, to anyone who will sit still long enough to listen. The number of people willing to do that anymore is quite slim. Slim to none.
I sit down, since she is obviously in no hurry to get to the restaurant.
“So, my lady, what is troubling you today?”
“Oh, I just wish I could die,” she groans, emphasizing the word “die.”
Here we go. She’s off and running.
“Really? What’s the deal? You look pretty dang healthy, so why are you ready to cash it all in?”
Even though we have this same conversation at least four or five times every time we see each other, I just have to let her get it out.
After sighing heavily and letting the tears gather at the corners of her eyes, she breathed out “I just miss Pops so much. He always told me I could go first, but he went first and left me here,” said like the petulant spoiled child that she has always been.
She cast an eye over at me to see if I was getting the empathetic look she was so hoping for, but instead I deliberately rolled my eyes at her and smirked.
She let out a chuckle and I said, “You are not going to jump on that old grind again, are you? Come on now. It’s been four years and you have just got to get on with your life! It is totally OK for you to miss him, but this wallowing and breast-beating is just not good for you ... or me. I think I’ve had it up to my eyeballs already!”
Another heavy sigh and she heaved herself out of the chair, deciding it was time to eat.
We made it to the restaurant and she ordered the usual, after declaring she was going to try something different. See? That short term memory thing popping up again.
Sis-in-law managed to drop in and join us, but beat a hasty retreat as soon as possible.
I took Granny over to my house afterward to sit outside and enjoy the backyard oasis, wherein she decided to regale me with more of her stories. I indulged her.
With a call to go pick up the kid, we cut our visit short and she plodded heavily toward the garage.
I asked her if she was still full from lunch and she said, “As a tick.”
“Oh. So I guess that means a trip to Dairy Queen is out of the question.”
Oh Lord honey. Never step between that woman and her ice cream.
So we picked up the kid and his buddy and I chauffered them to Dairy Queen, where we all had treats that were way bigger than our eyes.
She was ready to go home afterward, so I walked her in, carrying the scant remains of her ice cream sundae. I opened her freezer and found, literally, just enough space to squeeze that cup in. I didn’t comment on the hoarding, ’cause it is what it is.
It was a grand day, she exclaimed, having gotten out of ‘The Home’ and having all of her favorite things to eat.
A grand day, indeed, for I knew what was waiting for me when I got home.
My jacuzzi tub and a mud mask.
And maybe that valium from my neighbor...