Don’t get me wrong. I love when my mom comes over on Sundays. She’s my mother, for God’s sake. She brought me into the world. But she’s ninety years old and has cognitive issues and moves very very very slowly. Snails are using her in metaphors.
Of course, none of this is Mom’s fault. But it doesn’t make it easier to pass the time when she’s at the house. Example: dodge ball. She’s the worst! Instead of quickly moving her body out of the way—it’s called dodge ball, duh!—she’ll try to reposition the walker. Naturally, this results in her taking totally avoidable head and body shots. Whether it’s sheer stubborness, or, as my wife suggests, Mom’s complete lack of short term memory, she’s unwilling to change her strategy.
I’d like to say boxing was a different story, but that’s not how life works. And it’s not like I’m some great boxer. I have the one move—fake the left hook, come back with the right uppercut—and Mom falls for it every time! Sometimes I make my son or daughter referee, and they’re so cute and love their Nana so much, they’ll call a TKO long before it’s really warranted.
Before my mom visits, I have to prepare the house, a process I call “Momification.” It involves clearing the entryway through the garage so her walker can get through, leaving the light on in the guest bathroom because she has trouble with the switch, and most important, M.A.T.S., an acronym for “Mom Anti-Tipping System.” Let me explain:
My mom has her special spot on the couch where she always sits and reads. Well, about a year ago, she began tipping. She starts out fine, but as the day wears on, she slowly lists further and further to her left until, finally, she’s lying on her side, still reading and completely unbothered by the ninety degree change in her orientation. So I came up with M.A.T.S. What I do is take one of the unused big couch-back cushions and place it on the couch beside Mom’s left side and shove it snug against her hip and thighs. Voila! Upright mom! Okay, perhaps it’s not an engineering feat on the level of the Golden Gate Bridge, but it gets the job done.
We feed Mom constantly when she visits, and she loves it! We start with lunch, followed by continual snacks, culminating in a four course dinner prepared by my wife, who is an excellent cook. By evening, when it’s time to take her back to the facility, Mom’s blouse and pants are stained with every single item of food she’s eaten. She looks a bit like a Jackson Pollock painting, but doesn’t fetch nearly as much at auction. She is also covered in a layer of crumbs. One of the kids will invariably shout, “It’s my turn to vacuum Nana!” And the other will say, “No fair! You did it last time!” And I’ll have to step in and settle things, letting my son Dyson Nana’s top half, while my daughter does her from the waist down.
I’m all too aware that one day I’ll find myself in Mom’s position—elderly, enfeebled, and not anyone’s first choice to hang around with. Truth be told, I’m only sixty five, and already I’ve noticed slippage. I have some hearing loss, memory issues are starting to crop up, and somewhere around the third paragraph of this piece I soiled myself. I can only hope when I reach old age, my children will treat me with the same love and kindness with which I treat my mother. I have my doubts, though. I’ve noticed both my kids have been spending way too much time Googling “assisted living facilities NOT near me.”
I want to close by saying I love my mom. She’s a great lady who just keeps plugging along without complaint. And she’s full of surprises. Like last Sunday, when she proved remarkably competitive at beach volleyball. To make it interesting, I played her for Power of Attorney and immediate access to my inheritance, and she put up a spirited battle. Once again, the walker proved her undoing, as it doesn’t move well through sand. I won in straight sets, 21-0, 21-0, and racked up forty kills. In your face, Mama!