Christmas decorations and death wishes.

I’m taking a break from digging through Christmas boxes and tubs in the basement and putting up and out the decorations for Christmas. It’s always a little hard getting started on this job, but not nearly as difficult to get going on putting them AWAY. Things have been going well; I’ve found most of what I need, fragrant candles are burning to add to the pleasure of the beautiful decorations, and the tree is up and lighted. Trimming the tree is the last major hurdle to being done and getting the house back in order. Two triumphs today: in looking for our mahjong set to loan for a friend, I went through the closet holding the horrible mess of our games and atlases, which have been mixed together in a way that made both games and atlases unusable. It’s all tidy! The second triumph came after I laboriously twined white lights through greens on a dresser by our front door, AND THEN THE LIGHTS DIDN’T WORK! Grrr. How did I forget to check? I tested the next batch of lights and they came on, but then half went out. What?! Upon examining the string of lights, and using my vast knowledge about electricity, I discovered that one bulb had broken off, and if the wires left behind were touching the whole string worked. But! I found an extra bulb that fit, replaced the broken light, and the whole string worked and has continued to work [here I take a bow]. I should mention that my husband won the Perseverance Award, though, when the middle string of lights on the tree didn’t come on after he’d tested them all, and also the star on top wasn’t working. He stuck with the whole thing, and somehow all the lights are on, as well as the star, and the tree looks lovely. I’m sure Ralph Nader would be proud of us for not just buying new lights every year–which is tempting!

I mentioned in the last post that I was going to take Mom on errands with me. Friday, I arrived to do just that, and found Mom, as usual, lying down on the bed. I greeted her and said I was there to take her on errands if she still wanted to go. She did, but first wanted to get something cleared up [here I will not try to recreate her language, but relate what I gathered as we talked and I guessed her meaning wrong over and over, but finally I understood. I think.] Mom was furious about all the people coming in and out of her room, and telling her that it was a mess, and particularly annoying was the pad on the chair (absorbent on one side, plastic on the other) because what was that for?! I launched into the usual patter about her and Dad finding all the work to live in their house too much, and we found Bickford, and Coco could come, etc. etc., and the pad on the chair was my purchase and the staff was putting the pad on at my request; it was easier to get the pad in the washer than the chair (ha ha!), and that the problem was that Mom was leaky and it “IS NOT YOUR FAULT!” “I figured I did something bad,” she said gloomily, and I talked about her bladder and it’s not your fault, and that’s why you are here, you and Dad, and you pay the people to help you do what you cannot (I listed some of the things) and how glad her family is that they don’t have to struggle to live comfortably.

“We pay to have them clean?” she asked, frowning. Yes, I said, and cook and help with showers, and do the laundry.

“Then we ought to go,” she said firmly. You mean you should die? “Yes.” I said I wouldn’t disagree necessarily, I understood what she meant, but that unfortunately we don’t get to choose when we die. “Why not?” Mom said angrily. Well… um…we just don’t. I further said I certainly wouldn’t kill her. “WHY NOT?!” I started saying that she hadn’t killed HER mother, and was not going to…………suddenly I realized how absurd the conversation had gotten. I got up. “Anyway, it’s time to go if you want to come. I need to do these errands.”

The change of subject worked, the errands went well–at Target I got a wheelchair and brought her in and she carried the items we needed on her lap, and was rather pleased to be helping. A little annoyance was that she still worries about Getting In Other People’s Way, and cardinal sin in her book. If someone entered an aisle we were in, she got anxious and thought we needed to go. At one point, as I pondered the dog food selection, she noticed another woman in the aisle, studying a shelf at the other end. “Excuse us!” Mom said, loudly and needlessly. The other woman jumped and moved her cart over, and I assured her that she was fine, and felt a bit embarrassed. You just never know what is going to pop out. After we left Target, we stopped by the library, and also stopped by a friend’s home to drop off something. By then she was tired, and so was I. Back in her room, she was glad to lie down before dinner. Then I looked for Dad; he was not in his room, but I found him in the sunroom, fast asleep. I didn’t wake him–I was out of gas for the day, and felt a little guilty for not visiting him. But I know he would tell me it was no problem, and I was thankful again for how undemanding Mom and Dad are–one more way they have loved me.

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