My Homemade Mother's Day Gift

Saturday, July 16, 2011

An outing with mom…

My mom is an extraordinary person.  She is 85 years old and very much an Auntie Mame.  In all areas, she’s bigger than life and more energy than anyone can take for extended periods of time.  She’s extravagant, big-hearted, volatile, commanding, unpredictable, colorful, and makes Don Quixote look like a pragmatist.  But she is my mom and I can’t help but love her to pieces. 

Recently she had surgery and was sent to a nursing home temporarily for recovery and rehab.  While there she developed a bad infection and sudden fever and pneumonia and allegedly had a seizure somewhere, the hospital says it was at the Nursing Home and the Nursing Home says it was at the hospital.  No one seems to have actually witnessed it but despite that, they managed to put her on an anti-seizure drug, with side affects that are a bit alarming. 

Having spoken with the Nursing Home, trying to get her off of them, they referred me to the Neurologist and assured me that the elderly are never removed from it once it has been issued.  I encouraged them to make an appointment at their earliest convenience. 

So mom was released from the Nursing Home this past weekend and her appointment was on the Monday afterward.  I had to request off work to take her.  Our company has an unusual method for taking off.  Sick days must be prescheduled and they must be within the guidelines of conforming to observe the various blocked days we cannot take off.  Taking my mother to the Neurologist was not an acceptable excuse to override the blocked off first Monday of the new quarter for California and so I had to seek special permission.  I was told, finally, I could take off if I had to but it would count against me as an unauthorized absence occurrence.  My young supervisor smiled so sweetly at me as she warned me, I was inclined to thank her for her thoughtfulness.  “Nevertheless,” I said, “I still feel this is important enough to risk it.”

So Monday comes and I’m off at 11:30.  The appointment isn’t until 2:00 and I told mom 12:00 because so often I get a last minute call as I’m clocking off and it can be as long as another half-an-hour.  So bases covered, I’m ready on time and I make a quick stop by the house to drop off my stuff and get the special paper bags my mom wants put on her seat.  Faith, my granddaughter is at the easel perfecting a piece of art she has created and I hear a combination of a movie for the rest of the grandkids and heavy breathing from a workout tape my daughter and my son’s wife are doing from a DVD.  I kiss the top of Faith’s head and take off for my mom’s house.  Mom wants to go to the toy store to buy the kids some presents when we’re done at the doctor’s office.  So it will be a long day.

I get to my mom’s house, pull in her drive way and she comes to the door and instructs me to back in.  So I get back into my car, and turn it around, praying I won’t take out part of her garage as I’m not exactly skillful with the whole process of reverse.  I manage to get the car in but I’m so close to the door, I have to literally squeeze myself out of the car.  I come around to help her get out of her electric chair into the front seat of the car.  She narrows her eyes.  “Did you get the paper bags?”

“All taken care of, Mom.” 

“Can you put my purse in the back seat?”

“Sure” I put her purse into the seat behind her and I help her get her seat belt back on, squeeze back through the door, get my seatbelt on and start the car. 

“Oh, I need that notebook in the back seat.”

“No problem, Mom.”  I shut off the car and open the door and compress my shape through the pinched opening, go around and get the notebook and hand it to her.  Is this what you need?”

“Oh yes, Thank you.”

“Okay, then we’re off.”  I come around the car, force my girth back through the narrow opening, put my seatbelt on and…

“Oh Judy, I need the garage door opener.  Oh you’re going to have to get out of the car again.”

Trying my best not to sound irritated, “No problem, Mom,” I said, perhaps with a little too much of a cheery Disney lilt. I once again pour through the narrow strait and reach into the backseat to retrieve her purse and hand it up to her.

“Oh Judi, you can put this in the back again.”

“That’s okay, Mom.  I think we’ll just leave it up here for now.”

So off we go.  I reach for my directions out of my purse but I can’t find them at all and realize that I had left them at home.  No matter.  I have them pretty clear in my head.  It is a simple trip just down the road from where she lives. 

“Do you know where we are going?” she asks in her most inquisitional motherly tone.

“Yes, I looked it up last night”  I say with the utmost confidence.

But I can’t find I find the exact building near the hospital and finally drive to a building to the left of the hospital and once in front, I call the Drs. Office.  “I think that maybe this is it but I’ll just check with them first.”

“Thank you for calling Dr. Kader’s office.”

“Hi.  My Name is Judy Fuller and my mom has an appointment there in about an hour.  I am at the Hospital.  Can you tell me where you are located?”

“456 N New Ballas Rd Suite 299

“Isn’t that in Creve Coeur?  I understood you are in Lake St. Louis.”

“Where are you?”

“Well, as I said, I am at the hospital, in Lake St. Louis.  I’m at a private medical office to the left of the hospital but I can’t locate your building. ”

Murmurs, “Which one of these is our address?”  says to me, “Yes, so many people have trouble finding us.”

“Uhhh… okay, right, so where are you?”

“You’re so close.”

“Are you at this building?”

“Hmmm.” He murmurs, “Are we at this building?” He says to me, “A little further down.”

“Are you in the hospital?”

“A little further down.  You’re very close. Okay?”

“Uhh… Okay, um…”  I hear the phone click.

I drive down the road a bit and turn into every place I find that resembles an office building for about a half an hour.  But I’m unable to locate Medical Plaza Dr.  So I pull into a driveway for storage units.  I don’t tell mom but my notoriety for not charging my phone is housed in infamy.  I pull it out, turn it on and see I’m down to about 3 bars.  “I’ll just look up the address here online, and locate the address, #200 Medical Plaza Suites.  “Mom, isn’t it great to have this kind of technology on a phone?”

She rolls her eyes.  “I think you needed to go a little further down.”

“Mom, I saw the map.  It’s not this far down.  I’ve gone too far already.”

“There’s something just over that hill.”

“Yes, Mom, I know there is, but not the Drs. Office...”

I drive back toward the hospital and finally locate this tiny little sign that whispers “Medical Plaza Dr.”  I turn down the road and there is a sign that tells me where everything is.  “Perfect,” I think.  Medical building #1, go left, Medical building #2 go straight, but nothing actually says, #200 Medical Plaza Suites.  So I decide to call again.

“Thank you for calling Dr. Kader’s office.”

“Hi, this is Judy, I called before.  I have been driving around here for a half an hour and I can’t locate your building.”

“Yes, so many people have trouble finding us.”

“Well, I’m going to miss our appointment.  Can you direct me to your building?”

“Where are you?”

“I’m right at the entrance to Medical Plaza Dr.”

“Where is that?”

“At the hospital.”

“The hospital is a very large place.”

“Yes, aren’t you located on that street?” 

“I don’t know.  I don’t know how to tell you how to get here.”

“Are you at the Drs. Office?” 


“Oh c’mon.  Are you telling me you don’t know how you got there today?”  (“Mom,” I whisper, “I think I’m talking to one of the patients”). 

Heavy sigh.  “Just turn on Medical Plaza Dr.” 

“Okay.”  (Mom says, “What, I didn’t hear you.”)

“Go to the sign.”

“I’m there.”  (“Mom, I think I’m talking to one of the patients”). 

“Go to the medical building.”

“1 or 2?”

“Just follow the road.” 

“Medical building 1 or 2? The road splits”  (mom says, “What did you say?”)

“I don’t know, just follow the road” 

“There is a lot of construction here.”

“You weren’t supposed to go that way.” 

“Okay.”  (I reply, “Mom, I think I’m talking to one of the patients”). “Hello, hello?  I think he hung up.”

“I can’t hear what you’re saying, Judi.”

Upon finally arriving we get the wheel chair out, I go park the car and we go in.  I fill out all the appropriate forms but get several disapproving glances as I have to ask when Mom’s birthday is and when Dad’s birthday is.  After an eternity in the waiting room, the Doctor, calls us in. 

“Vell, Missus Hudson, Vhy did choo come to see me?”
“I don’t know.  It’s YOUR appointment.”
I say, “Dr. Kader, I made the appointment.  I’m a little concerned about the”
Her hand comes up.  “I am not askink choo.”
“Do choo know cher name?”
“Do choo know the date?  Zee name of zee president?  Did choo see any news today?  Vat vas it about?  Vat is similar between a wall and a door?  A house and a cave?  A cat and a dog?  A horse and a flower?”


“Jes, a horse and a flower?”

“Well I can’t think of anything alike in a horse and a flower.”  Mom looks at me for help.  The hand flys up again.   “I am not askink choo.  Zhere are similarities.”

“Well, I’d like to know what they are!”

“Choo vill haf to figure zat out for churself.  Zhere are similarities.”

Eventually the mental exercises cease and the good Doctor tells us she’s going to take mom off the anti-seizure drug.

“Wonderful,” Mom says.  “Lets go to the toy store and if I still feel like it, I want the kids to meet us for dinner.”

I go get the car and we head off to Toys R Us.

“Do you know where you’re going this time?”

“Yes, Mom.  I’ve been THERE before.”

“Well, I hope it doesn’t take as long to get there as it did to the Drs. Office.  You said you knew how to get there too. 

“Well, I did, but they sort of hid the building from us.”

“I wish I knew the similarities between a horse and a flower.”

“They are both organic, both living?  God made both of them?”

“No, that's not it.  Oh, I know, they both are found in a field.  I’m going to write her and tell her that.”

We pull up at the toy store and I put mom in the wheel chair, roll her in and go and park the car.  When I get inside, she wants a cart.  “How are we going to do that, Mom?”

“Judi, I’ll push the cart, you push me.”

So we look at everything.  Eventually one cart isn’t enough… and I get a second one to pull behind me.  After crawling on the floor to get the one in the back, straining on my toes to get the one on top, picking up, putting back, losing the list once and having to retrace my steps to find it, and pulling around 2 cartloads of toys for over 2 and a half hours, we finally make it up to the register.  There must have been $500 in toys in the 2 carts.

“On the Legos, how do you do the buy one get one half price?”

“These Legos are not half price.”

“What do you mean, they are not half price?  You have signs everywhere saying they are half price.”

“Well, it’s only certain Legos.  These you have do not qualify.” 

“I bet I’ve got over $500 in toys here.”

She shrugs and begins ringing up the items. 

“Well I’m of a mind to just let them all put that away and walk out of here.  What do you think, Judi.”

I look at the two carts full of toys, and contemplate the hours spent digging out just the perfect one for each one of the 6 great-grandchildren and try not to sigh.  “You know, It’s just up to you mom.”

“Well then, let’s just go.”

“Excuse me Ma’am.  Umm, my mom has decided she doesn’t want any of this.  Thank you.”

On the way home, we stop at a fast food place and pick up some dinner and mom fills up my gas tank before I take her home.

“You know, mom, I was just thinking, that maybe since Jenny has so much she has to get into that van of hers already, maybe it would be better to just buy her a gift certificate at Toys R Us and let her just buy the toys when she gets them home.”

“What do you mean?” she says with narrowed eyes.

“Well, I was just thinking that maybe it would be a little easier that way.”

“You mean just give her the money and let HER go shopping?” she says incredulously.

“Well yeah,  I  mean, she knows what they’ll want and all.”

“Well, that’s no fun for me, is it?”

“Uh, no… no I guess not.”

“If she doesn’t have room in the van, then I’ll just have it mailed to her.”

“Sure, that’s a great ideal.”

“So we’ll just plan another trip another day.”

“I can’t wait.”