My Blog

November 9, 2015

Elderly Mothers and Busy Hands

Mom has always been busy doing things with her hands. What her mind can conceive, she has always believed she could do. And that is a trait that she has passed on that has often gotten me into trouble.

Hand-sewn Wal-mart specials

Hand-sewn Wal-mart specials

Most recently, of course, she has been busily stitching—by hand—her white Wal-Mart pants to remake them from a size 3XL to her size of ??? I’m not certain what. Haven’t seen the results yet, but I’m sure she will attempt to wear them.

She has also painted the front porch of her trailer white. And repainted it every year to keep up with the weathering that chips off chunks of paint, and the stains left by the oak leaves that are blown onto the porch and that I haven’t swept off.

Unfinished wood

Unfinished wood

She also decided that the dark green plastic lawn chair needed to be white too. I’m not sure if she couldn’t see that her efforts had left it looking streaked or that she thought the zebra effect was perfectly acceptable. Or perhaps it was an intentional Andy Warhol creation?

Andy Warhol would be proud

Andy Warhol would be proud

Hopefully, when my Sunday school class ladies come over to make jelly, they will not notice the splotched and stained “artistic creation” she made of the chair. Oh, wait, they aren’t coming any more. Mom doesn’t like the invasion by strangers or the jelly jars stacked in front of her Webster’s and on every surface of her trailer.

She also used to haul weeds on her very own creation. She couldn’t or wouldn’t use the wheelbarrow, so she made a rectangular 3 foot wide by 5 foot long “sled” of chicken wire with rope tied to the two front corners. She piled her weeds (including lots of poison ivy) onto the sled and dragged it, with the rope over her back, out to the trash pile for burning. Thank God, the gardener does that now, with a wheelbarrow.

Somewhere in her travels she had seen someone cover their yard with carpet to keep the weeds out.

Carpet covered

Carpet covered

Back when she had a car, she laboriously dragged home large carpet remnants and covered the area around her trailer. The weeds, naturally, grew right through the carpet. When Hubby Flatbottom tried to mow over the area, the strong cording from the carpet wrapped tight around the spinning blades and broke the axle. He’s been mad at her ever since.

But that was all long ago. Yesterday morning her hands failed her. I made her a bowl of papaya and placed a wedge of lemon in it for her to use for flavoring. To her—and my–startled surprise and amazement, she could no longer squeeze the lemon. Nothing daunted, she staggered into the laundry room and came back out with a pair of needle-nose pliers. Problem solved.

Ghetto Clothes line

Ghetto Clothes line

Far worse, however, was the back door. Mom refuses to use the clothes dryer. She insists on using an invention that we put up for her that she loves more than almost anything in her life. Outside the back door, I anchored a pulley to the trailer and another fifteen feet away to a tall pine tree. We then ran clothes-line rope through the pulleys.

She can stand in her back door, clip her clothing to the line and run it out into the sunshine then pull it back in when it’s dry. Very similar to those pictures you see of the tenements in New York City where immigrant women hang laundry out their windows on rope that runs across the street.

Trailers, being trailers, sometimes sag in the middle. The back door had shifted and we could not get it fully closed. I called in Oscar, a very pleasant handyman who jacked up and leveled the trailer, placing concrete blocks under the door. Fixed.

Well, not quite. The door handle, which we haven’t used in forever, since we couldn’t close the door, has gotten stiff and hard to turn. (A side note, since we live way out in the piney woods, we never worry about locking doors—yes, there are still a few places like that left in the U.S.)

Mom couldn’t open the door to hang out her laundry. She tried, she cried, she cursed. Well, no. My bad. Sorry. It just sounded so alliterative. She doesn’t cry and she certainly doesn’t curse. I do that.

I opened the door for her so she could hang her laundry. But I am going to have to go get her a new door knob.


About Caroline Castillo Crimm
Retired Professor Emeritus from Sam Houston State University, interested in writing novels and speaking about topics such as the history of Latin American. Would like to share the AMAZING world of the 18th century in Northern New Spain, that's Spanish Texas and Mexico!
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