Tadpole Crossing

Shopping with mom was always an adventure. She hated shopping from the time she was a little girl, she hated shopping. Her mother would take her to the store to buy a new bonnet and the sales people would oooh and aaah over the chubby baby. Mamie (mom’s mom) would set her up on the counter and mom would sweep all the bonnets onto the floor. She’d fuss as they tried to try things on her. From then on she was a terror at shopping.

On the other hand, she bought the best presents! Long before online shopping, there was mail order and mom rocked those catalogues: Montgomery Ward and Sears Christmas catalogues were the best! At holiday time she would get so many catalogues, the mailbox was overflowing every day. Russ Emenheiser, the postmaster of the local office, would have to put them aside and hand them off when mom went in to collect her mail. If the weather was bad or the number of catalogues was overwhelming, Russ would hand deliver. He and his family lived two doors down.

Sears Christmas Wish Book 1960
Sears Christmas Wish Book 1960
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A living memorial? Or a home?

Several months after mom’s death, I sorted through clothes and some personal items, but I never quite go around to going through the bulk of what was left behind. I moved into the bedroom and that was about it.

It was beginning to feel like a living memorial to mom. Not only is mom not coming back, now that she’s fully in her right mind again, she wouldn’t want to.

There are many things I want to do, but no money for anything major. No pulling up the carpet and laying a wood floor. No kitchen reno. So I’ve come up with ideas of things I can do on my tight budget.

I can paint the linoleum floor in the kitchen, the kitchen cabinets, and eventually get a new counter top and sink. The carpet — there’s nothing I can do but get it cleaned — eventually. Area rugs on top of that.

This past month I started digging in for reals.

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Last goodbye

I’ve always been one for symbolism, patterns and signs from the cosmos. When the stars align, everything feels “right.”

Of course, mom was there when I took my first breath. That I was there for her last and it was just the two of us at the end, felt right.

So, scattering mom’s ashes on my birthday felt logical, natural, symbolic, and “right.”  We said our first “hello” on the day of my birth; today, we said our last goodbye.

Mom has been set free, scattered where she requested. I kept my promise.

Oreo Speedwagon

I saw this cartoon on Facebook. It got me thinking about mom and her misunderstanding of lyrics she’d heard. It started with CCR’s “There’s a Bathroom on the Right” (“There’s a Bad Moon on the Rise”), through Jimmy’s ” ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy” (” ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss The Sky), all the way up to 3DD “F*ck Me Like That” (“If I could Be Like That.”)

She couldn’t understand The Song That Ate The World — a.k.a. “Smooth” — so I was reciting the lyrics as Rob was singing them. She accused me of making them up. I told her if I had made those up, I would be driving a nicer car.

Which leads to the cartoon. I still don’t know why I was talking music to her, but silly me, I was. I said something about Michael Stipe and his classic Muppets appearance. I said that I have always liked Stipe and his music.

Mom: I thought he was that guy you don’t like from the band you don’t like.

Me: You’re thinking of Scott Stapp and Creed. Michael Stipe is from REM.

Mom: Oh, I know that band. REM Speedwagon.

Me: Mom, please. Let’s not do this.

Refrigerator / Washer — same thing

Living with someone suffering from dementia is never boring. Tragic, frustrating, absurd, funny — yes. Never boring.

Mom has suffered from dementia for 14 or 15 years. It’s not a condition that gets better. It’s a slow, downhill slide. It became noticeable when she had surgery in 2001 or 2002. The anesthesia and the beta blockers she was given really altered her and my mom never really came back to herself.

Several years ago, she had a heart attack. That mentally alters just about everyone. She slid further. Last year she suffered another one and once again she slipped further away.

Over the years, she has suffered the loss of a husband and the loss of a son. Again, that’s something known to cause stress and affect memory.

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