Good morning, y’all. My recording device is an absolute life saver and it seems to be working very well. I was able to download and translate my story yesterday in about eighteen minutes. I overstepped my time by three minutes, not bad. The widow Ferguson can just hold her water. She just looks at pictures of cats on the computer, anyway.
When we left the story yesterday, I have gotten a “weekend pass” from the Union county jail to move my Mom to the Mountain View assisted living facility in Asheville, N.C. Now, we have fudged the story a little bit to the Union county folks, I won’t be there on moving day. The move is scheduled for Tuesday, February 3 and I will be returning to lockup on Sunday the 1st. My hope is that I can at least visit Mom a couple of times and provide some support to Jackson. There are a few odds and ends business wise I want to clear up if I can before returning to lockup. I’m hoping no one cares about the prevarication as long as I show back up at the appointed time. I’m assuming the time will be added to my sentence anyway, so I don’t think the county is going to get shorted any of my roadwork skills.
Mulva meets me in front of the jail at 6AM on Friday, January 30th. We get fast food for breakfast, and head back to Number Two for a quick visit while I throw some things together. A hug and a kiss goodbye, and I point the Trans Am towards Asheville. It is cold and threatening snow. Getting snowed-in in Asheville is a great concern and I don’t want to think about the implications. I am hoping for a Blitzkrieg trip and I hope we are as successful as the Germans marching into Poland. We’re going to need a lot of luck.
I arrive in Asheville and head over to the Facility to visit with Mom. Mom looks much improved from the last time I saw her in Mission Memorial. Her color is good and she can move around her room pretty well. She can go to the bathroom unassisted and that is a big check-mark for her long term care. Her cognition is better, but a long way from where she was at Thanksgiving. She does not remember me being with her at Memorial Mission, or says she doesn’t.
As I’ve pointed out, Mom is one of the great manipulators. Machiavelli trained under Mom. Mom saying something, and it being true, are just a guess. Mom’s strongly held religious beliefs allowed lying if a “greater purpose” was served. Mom was the one who determined the “greater purpose”. Years ago, Jackson and I started comparing Mom’s stories that were related to us in our weekly phone calls to her. We tried to see if we could come to a consensus on where the truth lie. She could be deathly ill to one of us and headed out the door going to Home Depot to the other. Mom’s story was molded to extract the desired result from the right audience.
So did Mom think I had just abandoned her, or was she just trying to make me feel guilty? Your guess. I looked about the room and saw lots of flowers and cards and food. I took the opportunity to ask how Mom’s appetite was, and she related that the food was pretty good. “Except when they let the Mexicans in the kitchen”. I questioned this, and Mom said at least once a week that they let Mexicans come in and cook the food, and she didn’t like it, it was too spicy. I figured it wasn’t worth pointing out that the “Mexicans” were probably cooking every day, they just served a Mexican meal once a week for variety.
I asked about her tooth and inquired as to when she was going to get it taken care of. She responded that the swelling had gone down and that it didn’t really hurt unless she ate something sweet. I asked if it was the same tooth that had bothered her at Thanksgiving and she replied that it was. I inquired as to why she didn’t got to the appointment that was scheduled for the week after Thanksgiving. She said she cancelled that one because she didn’t want to go. I asked, “why didn’t you want to go?”
In a completely unguarded moment, Mom responded, “because they’ll have to put me to sleep to take the tooth out and I’m scared I might not wake back up”. Well, hell, just when you have all of your defenses up and are able to shoulder through the maze of emotions, Mom goes and reveals a human trait. In spite of all of her, “ready to dance on those streets paved of gold” bravadacio, Mom is scared to die. At least dying in a dentist chair. We all know her preferred method is reaching for the refrigerator door like Aunt Sudy.
I am momentarily flustered and look about the room for relief. I notice the TV is not on, which is an absolute necessity for Mom. Mom watches TV non-stop, as loud as it can go. I’m surprised she hasn’t received complaints from her condo neighbors she plays the set so loud, and all night. Maybe she has but didn’t hear them banging on her door.
Mom was recommended for a hearing aid years ago but has refused. I think her refusal is equal parts admitting she’s getting older, and a fear that she’ll be less attractive wearing a hearing aid. No amount of discussion has been able to get her to change, so we’ve all given up. You can imagine what visits are like when she wants to watch “Pawn Stars” at full volume and then has to turn it down so her visitor doesn’t have to yell over the show. I don’t think yelling has an impact though, I think Mom has been lip reading for years, or just missing what’s being said.
“Mom, you’re not watching TV”, I say.
“I can’t, it makes me dizzy”, she replies.
“Well, are you keeping up with what’s going on, are you reading the papers?”, I ask.
“No, I haven’t read a paper since going into Memorial Mission”, she says.
I look around the room for other topics of interest. Mom breaks the silence by asking for her lotion in her bedside table drawer. I open the drawer to find the lotion, several bags of hard candy, a can of tomato soup, and a can of Vienna sausages. I hand Mom the lotion and say, “Mom, how did you get a can of soup and a can of Vienna sausages?”.
“Edna brought them to me”, she replies.
“Why, aren’t they feeding you well enough here?”, I inquire.
“I don’t know why, I guess she just was trying to be helpful”, she answers.
“Well, I can see the Vienna Sausages, maybe, they at least have a pop top”, I reply, “How did she figure you were going to get the can of soup open?”, I ask.
“I guess she didn’t”, Mom replies. “Look at how swollen my feet are”.
I am momentarily diverted from Mom’s secret cache of food to her feet, which I guess was her plan. I use the opportunity to remind Mom that walking will help her get her swelling down and that she should take every opportunity to use the physical therapy people to help her get stronger. Well this sends Mom into “pitiful mode”.
“No one wants to get better any more than I do”, Mom wails. “I just don’t like people making me do something on their time”, she continues, “I don’t want people getting me up when I don’t want to get up just so they can cross something off their ‘little chart'”.
I try to soothe her by agreeing that we all know she wants to get better and I remind her that I was the one that notified the nurses that she didn’t have to do PT if she didn’t want to. Mom calms down and gets in the last word.
“I just don’t want anyone to think I’m slacking off”, she retorts.
“No one will ever think you slacked off, Mom”, I reply.
She smiles and rearranges herself in the bed. She still has her fuschia blanket from the hospital. I’m about to comment on the blanket when the lunch people come in. They are very nice and condescending to Mom. They even ask me if I want a tray. I defer to a cup of coffee. As I watch Mom pick at her meal, I notice she is basically moving the main course around and then going after the dessert. I let her get in a couple of bites of the strawberry short cake before asking her, “I thought sweets hurt your tooth?”
Mom gives it a pause, and then replies, “Well, this isn’t too sweet”. She then gives me that look of “what are you up to?” and retorts, “When did that become your concern?”
“Well, it became my concern when you started raising hell with everybody about a tooth that you won’t get fixed”, I continue on, “you’ve got a drawer full of hard candy and you’ve passed on your main course for dessert, I’m just wondering if it still hurts”.
Pitiful Mom returns and she goes into the voice, “oh son, you can’t imagine the pain”,”at night I can just feel the poison draining down that side into my shoulder, and when I get up the next day I can’t even move my arm it’s so sore from that poison draining into it”.
“Oh, ok”, I respond, “you do know the pain went away because of the antibiotics, right?” “You know that unless you get the tooth removed that the abscess is going to come back, right?”
Mom starts to cloud up, “Well I don’t want to talk about that now, I don’t know why you want to ruin a visit by telling me what I should and shouldn’t do”. Mom whines, “this place is full of people trying to tell me what to do every minute of the day, I don’t need my family coming in and trying to bully me around”
“I’m not trying to bully you Mom, I’m trying to get you healthy so you can take care of your self again, that’s what you want, right?’, I ask. She nods her head in agreement. We have avoided the full on waterworks for now and so I press ahead with, “Mom, I need to talk some business with you”.
Her face perks up and she says, “What?”.
“You know you need to move from here to a better situation for your condition right?”,
“Yes”, she responds.
“You know you’re moving to Mountain View, right”,
“Yes” she responds, “you know I looked at their condos when I bought my condo”, she continues, “I just thought it might be a little far for Edna and Charlotte to travel, but I love the area.”
“That’s great, Mom, I didn’t know you had looked there, I’ve heard it’s beautiful”. I plunge ahead, “I’ve looked at your finances and I have just one suggestion, you need to rent the upstairs apartment that you’ve been holding out for “family visitors”.
She looks a little perplexed, but responds, “I guess that wouldn’t be that close to Mountain View for folks coming to visit me, so ok”. “What else?”, she asks.
“That’s the big one”, I reply, “you’ve done a really good job of securing yourself financially, and if we add the rent from that apartment to what’s already coming in, you’ll have Mountain View covered plus some leftover”.
Then, out of the blue, Mom gives me the stunner, “you can sell the condo if you need to”.
I’ve never broached the topic of selling the condo with Mom because selling the condo would be the end of Mom’s independence. “We’re not there yet”, I respond, “let’s get you moved into Mountain View and continue working on your rehabilitation and see how things go.”
Mom looks kind of quizzical and responds, “Well I just wanted you to know it’s ok if you need to, there’s no point in keeping the lights on in two places if you don’t have to”.
I reply that I’ll keep that option in my back pocket and start making moves to head out. I tell Mom that Jackson and I will try to come back by later and I leave her with a big grin on her face.