I’ll just admit it right from the start: I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I was using my last reserves of patience yesterday after a couple of hours with my parents. It was Mom’s and my least favorite day, when Coco, the chocolate lab, needs her medicated bath to keep allergies under control. The dog hates it too, poor thing; we tried going without baths, but it was clear that they made a difference. Also, a bonus, regular baths prevent Coco from wafting Eau de Dog around Bickford. A year or so ago, when Mom was pre-mourning Coco’s absence from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.–don’t ask me why it takes so long– I suggested that, after dropping off Coco, we stop at Big Boy for waffles, one of Mom’s favorite foods that aren’t duplicated at their assisted living facility. Mom used to make waffles for Sunday breakfast when we were kids. The waffle iron stood at her elbow, the batter in front of her, and one by one, we each got a piping hot waffle to swamp with syrup. Mom was last, of course, and she enjoyed hers start to finish.
Then Dad found out about the waffle trips, and said he’d like to go too. Now I had to call in my husband; for the last few dog bath days, J. and I arrive at Bickford convoy-style (or do you need at least three vehicles for a convoy?) at 8:00. I go in, find Mom, if she’s not dressed, get her that way, check on Dad, ditto (though this only happened once), grab the dog, sign them out of the facility, and get parents and their walkers into separate cars. I drive Mom and the dog to the vet’s office, take Coco in, sign papers, weigh the dog, etc., and then Mom and I head back to Big Boy, where my husband and Dad have gotten a table and coffee. Whew.
Yesterday went well, surprisingly so, with both parents dressed and, in my father’s case, coming down the hall to wait for us. An easy day! So it was, really, though as we finished our waffles (yes, I had one too!), I made the mistake of picking up my purse and putting it where Mom could see. “Good grief. That’s huge!” she said for 543,286th time in the last 43 years. Mom has been commenting on the size of my purse since I was about 15, and wondering WHAT I could be carrying, and why, etc. etc. It’s boring and annoying, and long since it’s stopped annoying me, right? I understand that she can’t repress this sort of comment, and ignore it, yes? Well, yes and no. I do intellectually understand it, but every son and daughter and parent have buttons that, when pushed, bring back old reactions and feelings, and I’m no different. The message to me as a teen was that I was being ridiculous, and I’m embarrassed to say that I can still feel the vestiges of the anger and hurt that her (unknowing) ridicule brought out. Yes, yes, I AM over-sensitive, for those of you wondering why on earth this would bother me. ANYWAY, I’m getting better about this daily refrain, and say things in response like, “Yup, it’s a big one,” and “I carry it even though I don’t want to,” and laugh (HA. HA.) But honest, I let it go, though this drained off some of my already low Patience Quota.
We got in the car, and I was thinking that, in only a few more minutes, we’d have had a good day out, and all I had left was to pick up and deliver the dog to Mom at 3:30. “Feel this,” Mom said, holding out her thumb and rubbing the edge of the nail. This means she needs to have her nail filed or cut, so I said I would do it when we got back. Then she rubbed her chin where there grow bristly whiskers I shave off periodically. OK, two MORE chores when we get back, I thought, repressing the urge to scream and run away. You must understand that, even while I’m over-reacting, I can see that I am, and my “wise mind” coaches me to just keep going, it won’t be long now. Do the next right thing.
We got to Bickford, Mom and Dad unloaded, signed them in, and took care of Mom’s nails and chin whiskers. She was so sweet, so appreciative, looking at me with such love, and telling me how smart and wonderful I am. What a heel I felt, hanging on to patient comments and actions by the fingernails, raring to get OUT THE DOOR. For her, though, it feels as good as if I were doing it with the warmth and tenderness I wish I had. “Fake it ’til you make it” has been my policy in many of life’s demandss, and it applied here. I forced myself to look into her faded blue eyes, into the deep pool of love I don’t always deserve. My heart softened, and I said, as always, “I love you, Mom.” Because I do. Today I am taking the day off, making jewelry, and filling up, ready for the next time.
Oh, and how did the rest of the day go? Well, I went to pick up Coco in a different car than I went in, and then realized that her leash and collar were in the OTHER car! What fun! I took Coco to Mom, then went back to the house, picked up the collar and leash and took it to Mom. Three trips to Bickford in one day? Yeah, I’ll take the day off.