Stories about Mother

Grandma’s Bad Bath Behavior

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

My Mother’s Old Chinese Doctor..I Don’t Think Dr. Ron Would Like His Picture Here!

“Oh, you girls, bathing Grandma can’t be all that difficult.”

This is my brother in law, Dr. Ron speaking. My mother and my 3 sisters and I are sitting at my mother’s kitchen table, discussing how it’s time to Bathe Grandma, Again.

This is a long time ago. My mother’s mother is in her late 80’s and has had dementia for as long as I have known her. She and my grandfather live in a cottage on my parent’s property.

My grandmother is the funniest woman I know. People tell me she had a terrific sense of humor before her strokes, but stroking hasn’t seemed to have taken away her zany and outspoken world view.

Hot weather or cold, Grandma always wears her heavy, hairy red coat that hangs below her knees with a lop-sided drag. She has long white hair that sweeps to her waist, hair that she brushes, puts into 2 two fat braids and loops over her head and pins.

She’s got the black grandma shoes and the nylons rolled right above her ankles. She wears gold wire-rimmed glasses over her nose, glasses that accent her heavily wrinkled face.

She’s healthy and strong and sinewy and likes to take a boxing stance. When she walks she lists to the right like a ship ready to roll over and go down in the roiling sea.

She doesn’t like to bathe and we don’t like to bathe her, but it becomes an absolute  necessity when we can smell her as she rocks her way towards us or sits at our conference table for dinner with all 10 of us every night. The 10 of us are my father, mother, 6 kids, Lancaster (our grandfather) and Grandma.

Then, of course, in this room we need to count the big, smelly dogs, the cats, a few chickens that like to come in the house and visit and sometimes my brother’s mean, wild raccoon that rummages through all the pots and pans in the drawers and cupboards in the kitchen, while we eat.

But, that’s another story for another day.

We’re talking about my grandmother and once again it’s Bath Day. We girls all hate this day because it takes all 5 of us to get her in the tub and hold her in the tub and get her washed. She screams at us, yells and slaps us soundly with wet wash rags. By the time the wash is over, the small bathroom in her cottage is wet, floor, walls and ceiling, soaked with water and we are all drenched with our clothes stuck to us and our hair in runny clumps with knots of soap and water.

Dr. Ron is sitting in Grandma’s small living room which is actually part of the kitchen, as we girls and Mom at the kitchen table discuss The Bath, which we are gathered to here to accomplish. We’re having green tea, getting fortified. Grandma is sitting with us, nodding and smiling sweetly, not having a care or trouble in what is left of her former mind.

Ron repeats himself, “You girls are all making too big a deal of this. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do these things. You’re obviously not approaching Grandma in the right manner.”

We all turn our heads to look at him and somebody says mildly, “Well gee…why don’t you show us how to do it,then?”

Maybe it was me?

Dr. Ron says, “Ok. I will.” (more…)

My Mother’s Friend

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

My Mother’s Friend, Martha

My mother’s friend Martha is 90 years old. She is mainly blind from birth, and now her hearing is drifting off. I imagine words coming towards her and curling into a gentle, blue puffy cloud.

Martha lives alone with her dog friend, Gretel.

Martha considers my mother her best friend. But, my mother is dead… and hence so is Martha’s best friend.

Martha calls me on the phone one day, wanting to return a book to me. She must have borrowed it from my mother.

I say, “Keep it or give it away, whatever you want.”

There is a silence.

“Oh. Do you want me to come and get it?” I ask.

Yes. She does.

She’s lonely. She wants to see me. I haven’t seen Martha since my mother died 2 1/2 years ago.

The next day when I arrive at her gate, I park my car, get out and wait for her to push her way down the drive with her walker. She unlocks the heavy wire gate and I step through the opening.

She reaches toward me, takes my face in her hands and peers closely up into my face.

“Oh. You look just like your mother. It’s like having your mother here with me, again.”

I am going to be my mother for an hour or two as I spend some time with Martha.

We inch our way up the long drive. Martha tells me she has to use the walker because her dog, in her great thrill with life and running, ran over her one day when they were outside. Greta knocked Martha to the ground and Martha broke her leg.

“But, I’m fine now,” Martha tells me once we are settled in the house at her table. “I only bring the walker outside with me so Greta can’t take me down when she’s chasing rabbits and squirrels.

Martha has a nice old house. It’s not fancy. It’s plain. The kitchen where we are sitting has old coffee cans dotting the sink, mismatched dishes and cracked drinking glasses. It looks like my mother’s kitchen.

Martha’s husband died 25 years ago. I remember him. A tall man with a great, big dark moustache that ran up at the ends into a wide smile.

They raised chickens. Looking out the kitchen window I notice the long old chicken houses, rusted with age and neglect.

Martha has been alone for a long, long time.

Her children live in places like China and Nepal. One lives across a wide field near Martha but she is gone for ten and more hours a day.

I look around and silently wonder, ‘How do you live alone when you are old and nearly blind and can hardly hear?’

“How do you do it?” I ask her.  “How do you feel about living alone?”

Martha says she is healthy. That even her knees are good. She thinks a minute. “About living and being alone for so many years? I just do it.”

She says it used to be easier when a bus came by and took her uptown but that it’s been years since that bus came by. Once a week, a friend takes her for a senior lunch at the Centre. The daughter that lives across the big field, takes her grocery shopping and they have lunch every Sunday.

I hear the ticking of an old wooden clock on the kitchen wall. We sit quietly and I listen to the tick. Martha has been listening to that clock tick her days away for at least 25 years.

“I have to go now,” I say, reluctantly. “I have to be somewhere else.”

“Oh. It’s been so nice having you here for awhile,” she says. She is disappointed that I have to go.

“In a couple, of weeks,” I say, “I’m going to call you and come and get you and take you to my house for lunch and tea. Would you like that?”

She would!

Now, we both have something to look forward, too.

Martha sees my mother in me…and I see my mother in Martha.

My mother’s old friend is now my new friend.

My mother’s friend is now my friend, too.

Suddenly, I feel all sweet and warm inside.

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My Stupid Love Life

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Good Energy Art By Venus http://www.artmojos.com

It’s 6PM, several years ago. I’m cutting flowers in my summer garden. My house phone is ringing and I rush inside the kitchen to answer it. It’s Harry, the fellow my brother has been telling me has a crush on me. I’m breathing hard from the quick run from the yard.

Harry says, “Venus, what time does your mother go to bed?”

“Ah…what?  My mother? What times does my mother go to bed? Eight? Eight-thirty? Why.”

“I’d like to go and see her ,” Harry says, “But, maybe it’s too late in the day.”

My mother is 87 and Harry is maybe 40. He thinks of my mother as his mother.

“Here”, I say, “I’ll give you her care taker’s number. She can tell you if Mom is still up.”

“No, no!” Harry shouts.  “Don’t.”

“OK,” I say. “Goodnight then?”

“Thank you, Venus,” Harry says, “for running inside to answer the phone.”

Later, I laugh myself to sleep. This is one of the more novel excuses a man has used to phone me.

“What time does your mother go to bed?” !!? (more…)


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