My mother FLOSSED HER TEETH at the table in a fine restaurant.
Yes, she did.
My sister Barbara and I had taken her up into the mountains for lunch and when we were finished with the fine lunch, Mother pulled out her dental floss, wrapped a giant wad around her hand and Flossed Her Teeth at the Table. Very thouroughly.
Barbara and I were aghast. We have never seen or known her to do something like this. We didn’t say anything. What could we say? We just looked at each other with pinball eyes.
Mother was not herself that day in the mountains. She was dizzy with ear trouble and she was strange in strange ways.
I have been thinking about this all week. I am thinking, ‘Is this the end?’ ‘She wasn’t herself. She was odd that day! What does this mean?’
Today, I buy a bottle of fine wine, some herbed goat cheese, raw asparagus and celery and I march over to my Mother’s with the feast. I have to find out if she will floss her teeth after we eat, but even if she does, that might be understandable because it is just us, but I have to ascertain for myself if she has cracked her mental marbles.
I am also wondering if her actions were caused the drug she is taking for the dizziness.
I need to know.
Since Saturday, I have been thinking, ‘When Mom passes we will have to sell the property and it isn’t a good time to do that. But, all 6 of us kids can’t agree on what to do with it and so it will need to be sold. I don’t want that. We have already gotten an offer of 6-7 million for the 11 acres and we turned it down. We don’t want the huge Loews building and a shopping center on that property. It would ruin the character of the town and most townspeople would hate us if we gave our souls for the money, for Progress, if we prostituted ourselves to The Developers. And, we kids don’t want to sell the land for blood and greed, anyway.
So much depends on Mother. She is almost 86. I often wonder, ‘What will I do when my mother dies?!’
I can’t stand the thought. I know that mothers die, and often when they’re much younger than ours, but still, how will we get on without our mother? Mother is always there for us.
We stop by her place all the time. We let ourselves into her old, ratty mobile home, because she can’t hear us knock.
She is usually asleep on her bed or in her big, blue living room chair, with her black dog, Becky beside her. Or, she’s watching Dr. Phil or Oprah or she is out on her new deck watering her potted flowers. Or, she is reading and researching something or she is on her computer. Always, she has a crockpot of soup going that has been going for weeks and she has usually forgotten to turn off the coffee maker from the morning.
You can count on the cat box reeking and the trash overflowing and the house to be a mess of cat hair and magazines and books and sometimes dead squirrels and lately, opossums. Becky brings them in the house to play with and accidently kills them. And there is usually dog or cat vomit on the grimy rugs. And, of course, there is Sassy, the Mean Cat to contend with.
We do have a housecleaner for my mother, but the house is hopeless and we know it, and we kids don’t expect much from the lady who tries to clean it. We bless her and leave her be.
Today, I arrive with my arms full of grocery fun and find Mother raising from her bed, disoriented. She has been doing exercises for her dizziness and she thinks they wore her out and maybe she fell asleep?
I show her the bottle of wine and she gets all grinny and excited. She follows me into the kitchen where I open the wine and lay out the food. We adjourn to her deck.
Mother loves her new deck. It has a lovely table and comfortable chairs and an awning. Mom has the deck filled with tubs of flowers and some tomatoes.
The Mean Cat is in the chair I want to sit in. I callously dump her out. Well…I try. I have the chair tipped waaaay over on its side and she is hanging on. So I give the chair a few knocks and she’s out.
The Mean Cat has had a hard life. She was brought up in a machine shop where all the male customers treated her roughly and so she treats us the same. I tried to be friendly at first, but when she ripped the skin on my little finger, almost to the bone, I gave up on our friendship.
I sit in the Mean Cat’s chair (knowing I have white cat hair all over my back, now) and Mom sits next to me. I pour the wine and cut the cheese and line up the asparagus and quartered celery. Ummm. Yummm. Mom and I make a toast to happiness, good health and great sex.
“Ha!” my mother says, “I haven’t seen any sex since your father died 8 years ago….not that I can remember anything about having sex with him…isn’t that strange?”
But, then she tells me that one of her boyfriends, David, has called from Reno.
“He said, ‘I should be there with you, right now!'” Mom says she said, ‘Well, why aren’t you?’
He told her he would think about it.
I growl a bit in my throat and say, “Well, don’t bank on it, Mom. He’s been saying this for years. Remember, he’s almost ninety and you said seven years ago when he did come to see you, that he is stingy with his penis.”
Mother is drinking her wine and eating goat cheese. She knows how he is.
She tells me about another man she knows that she fancies. She tells me he runs over to see her at the Senior Center and then at lunch he sits as far, far away from her as he can. And, as she has told me before, she mentions again that she thinks he lives in his car. Today, she adds that she thinks he lives in his car with another man.
“Mom,” I say, “I think he may be odd.”
Her other boyfriend, Skip, who is my age and handsome, has been thrown into the air by his horse, hit splat on the ground and broken 3 ribs, flattened a lung and broke something else of importance.
“Eat some more cheese,” I say, “and drink some more wine.”
I am watching my mother and listening to her, carefully. She seems herself.
I sidle up on the subject I have in my mind.
“Mom, are you still taking that drug for your ears?”
No. She stopped it a day or so ago.
“Mom,” I say. “Do you remember that you flossed your teeth at the table when Barbara and I took you to lunch in Wynola?”
Mother looks at me. Looks at her glass of wine. Looks at the plate of asparagus.
“Mom? Do you remember that? You did a mighty job of flossing. In the restaurant. At the table.”
No. She doesn’t. She has utterly no recall of flossing her teeth at lunch.
This is the first time, I think, that I am glad she has no memory of the occasion! This proves my idea about the medicine she was taking. She isn’t getting senile. She was drugged! Haalaluya! She was drugged. Thank you god, my mother was out of her mind from drugs.
I am not going to lose my mother, yet. And, we don’t have to sell the property to a developer, yet. And, I don’t have to wander into a depression about my mother, yet.
“Here Mom,” I say as I pour her more red wine. “Drink up.”
“Oh, my goodness, I feel it,” my mother breathes. “Wow.”
‘Yes,’ I am musing, as I pour her a larger good shot of red wine, ‘maybe I will turn my mother into a drunken drug addict and then I won’t have to worry about her mental state because I can always blame her behavior on her addictions.’
Very clever of me, don’t you think?
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