Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Weekend Get-Away

It's been nearly a year since I've gone to our cabin in Ohio.

Mom will be 99 on April 19th. She's still pretty sharp, despite near blindness and increasing deafness. She gets around fairly well. I urge her to use her cane, because she wobbles, but she insists that she doesn't need it. She bathes and dresses herself, rolls her long hair up in a bun, sets it off with a bright bow, makes her bed, gets her breakfast, feeds her cat, scoops out the kitty litter, and does 3 loads of our laundry each week in addition to her own.

We are blessed.

Nevertheless, for over a year now, it's become increasingly clear that I can no longer leave her alone for hours at a time. Recently, I asked an old neighbor of Mom's from Gibsonia, PA, to spend Friday through Tuesday with Mom while we are in Ohio. Barbara works as an aide in a nursing home. We'll pay her bus fare and the going rate for live-in eldercare.

When I told Mom that we were going away for a long weekend and that Barbara was coming to look after her, she was not pleased. “Look,” she proclaimed, “I lived alone for years, starting in 1962 when your father died, until eight years ago when I (at your insistence) moved down here! I am perfectly capable of staying by myself.”

Yeah, right, I think. Every day you ask me how to unlock the sliding door so that you can let your cat out. You nearly set fire to the house last summer while gabbing on the phone with none other than Barbara. You think someone stole your drapes and replaced them with better ones. You somehow threw away your engagement and wedding rings. Two days ago you wanted to know the name of the other woman who lives here and is married to Phil. At least once a week, you tell me that the washing machine is broken or that the dryer isn't working.

“Well,” I said, “Barbara needs a little vacation. She wants to spend it with you.”

Mom brightened. “Oh, I’m so glad she’ll be getting a rest.”

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