Chat @ Care-giving: Comic Relief

When I first suggested Mom start using a cane, not only was she insulted because I insinuated she needed help, but she couldn’t imagine a cane working with her wardrobe.   Eventually she allowed me to buy one for her, but it took a while before she’d actually use it.  Now, I spend my time retrieving it from the last place she left it.

Originally, the cane was lovely.  A circle of gold separated the black body of the cane from its richly marbled handle, but after years of daily use it’s gotten a little beat up.  This first cane is just one among others, now.  Mom has a golden cane with an agate handle, a four-pronged stainless steel number and a rugged wooden cane, just in case.

Recently, I took Mom and her cane on a road trip to visit Aunt Edie.  Mom arranged the departure with military precision.  Dad would stay with my sister in Dallas, so particular foodstuffs needed to go in a cooler with him.  Mom and Dad each had a suitcase and a hang-up bag to load.  In addition to Mom’s cane and Dad’s walker, Mom filled a shopping bag with miscellaneous items she might need while gone.

Even if we’re just making a quick run in the neighborhood, loading my parents into the car creates a bit of interesting choreography.  Dad exits the house first.  I settle him in the front seat and load the walker into the trunk.  Once Dad’s in, Mom arrives, teetering between the support of her cane on one side and the weight of her purse on the other.  After ushering her into the back seat, I return to the house, set the alarm and lock the front door.  Only then can I get behind the wheel and drive away.  For this particular jaunt, I was supposed to load up the car and take my parents to lunch at Chubby’s, before delivering Dad to his weekend destination.  Dad was particularly interested in the Chubby’s part of the excursion, because their lunch specials include one of his favorites,  shrimp-on-a-skewer.  This was going to be more than a Sunday drive.

Pulling up to my parent’s house, I was gratified to see Phil and his crew getting the yard in order.  Mom’s always happier when the lawn looks good.  I got my insulated cooler out of the trunk for Dad’s food and stopped to chat for a moment.  I appreciate Phil, especially since he hasn’t had the heart to raise his price to them for at least a decade.

Letting myself in the front door I discovered chaos.  The luggage sat neatly by the front door, but Mother was in a tizzy.  Her first cane was missing and, like the lost sheep in the Bible, it was now her favorite.  Mom hobbled around the entry hall with her “just-in-case” cane postulating on what could have happened to her favorite.

After a few questions I ascertained we probably left the cane in the shopping cart on our last visit to Wal-Mart.  So, I called Wal-Mart.  It took more than one call, because they kept putting me on permanent hold.  When an employee finally admitted several canes were in lost and found and described one that sounded like Mom’s, I loaded up the car.

As I drove away, Mom shot a barrage of questions into the front seat.  “Had I gotten their hang-up clothes?  Did I load Dad’s food?  Had I seen the brown shopping bag?”  Since I’d allowed her to leave her favorite cane behind earlier in the week, now all my actions were suspect.  I couldn’t imagine trying to choke down shrimp-on-a-stick under this kind of heavy fire, so I apologized to Dad that he’d be having lunch at Burger Island, rather than Chubby’s.  I needed to get to Wal-Mart fast and I didn’t want to back-track for shrimp.  We were already behind schedule.

Leaving Mom and Dad in the car, I hurried to the Customer Service counter.  Lo and behold, there was Mom’s cane, magic marker touch-ups and all.  As I exited the store, I saw Mom peering through the window, anxious for the return of her favorite cane.  I raised the precious possession in victory and she began to clap.  I delivered the cane and she lifted it to her lips for a kiss.

On the way to Burger Island, Mother regaled us with highlights of her cane’s many adventures.  As we drove to Temple, Mom decided her magic marker repairs might no longer be appropriate for such a valuable item.  Perhaps I could get my husband to re-finish the cane.  Things have certainly changed since the day she gave me the silent treatment for suggesting she needed a cane.

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