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November 11, 2015

Elderly Mothers are our Children

Just finished one of Chuck Wendig’s entertaining blogs on his ‘brokern robot’ child, a pre-schooler he calls B-Dub. It occurred to me that Mom is much the same at 96, a person who is slowly regressing to childhood and wants what she wants when she wants it. Like NOW!


Making "oopsies"

Making “oopsies”

Mom has been concerned over the spots on her rug. They have been accumulating slowly over the years, small ‘oopsies’ of spilled juice, or food, or unmentionables from not making it to the restroom on time—which, of course—mortify her and she doesn’t talk about at all.

I came in to find the vacuum cleaner in parts and pieces all over the living room. She had tried to vacuum but found that it hadn’t been emptied. So she had figured out—more or less—how to take it apart but couldn’t figure out how to dump the collected trash inside it or remember how to put it back together. I cleaned it and put it back together.

I’m not sure how she can see the spots on the rug when she can’t see the mess from the burned beans in the microwave or the papaya drippings on the counter or the dirt in the supposedly washed bowl. Anyway, she is concerned to the point where she wants the carpet steam cleaned, NOW!

I made the mistake of saying, “Of course we can clean it!” I told her I had rented steam cleaners before and it was “easy!” Well, it’s not. It requires shoving the furniture out of the way, then hauling buckets of water to the steam cleaner, then spraying spot remover, then scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing to get the spots out, then dumping the dirty water outside and replacing with clean water and repeating and repeating and repeating. No, it’s not easy.

But Mom says she can do it. Well, she could have many years ago. But the idea of her trying to do it NOW gives me the heebie-jeebies. So, it is up to me. I considered having a company come in to do the work, but she doesn’t want to spend the money or to have me spend the money.

Worrying about money

Worrying about money

Money is another issue. She worries continually about not having enough. Admittedly, she lives off of a very small Florida teachers’ pension and Social Security. She took a big hit from her stay in the hospital, not having signed up for Medicare B since it “cost too much.” Now she has to pay for any out-of-hospital expenses like Emergency Room visits and Radiation and Medicine. Luckily, all us kids chipped in. But lesson learned, too late.

So, now, with her very small amount of income, she insists on paying for anything that has to do with her welfare. If I drive her to the Conroe pool, she insists on paying. When I take her in to town to the library, she insists on paying. Or when I had her battery changed in her watch, she insists on paying. I will admit, I have begun lying about the cost of things. A $17 charge for the watch battery was “Oh, it was only $3 dollars.”

And stubborn? Oh, my! She might as well be a three year-old throwing a tantrum. She won’t take no for an answer. I’ve finally had to get very, very firm about not doing what she wanted done, whatever it is. How on earth do I yell at my mother? I’ve been obedient for sixty plus years, and now I have to be the parent?


Too busy at Humanities Texas, San Antonio

Too busy at Humanities Texas, San Antonio

So, we are back to the carpet cleaning. NOW! It is a chore that will require at least one whole day, and probably two, and I truly don’t have time to do it—NOW!  I will be gone to San Antonio for a Board Meeting this weekend, and have several appointments and meetings during the day on Wednesday and Thursday. Sorry! Life just gets in the way.

I think I have discovered the answer. I will rent the machine on Friday before I leave for San Antonio, then have Sister Sara do it when she comes to care for Mom for the weekend. It will keep her out of mischief in ‘cleaning out’ my things, and give her something to do while she is here. She can feel virtuous and Mom can get her carpet cleaned.

Unless, of course, Mom forgets that she wanted it done. But, she will eventually remember, when the spots catch her eye again, after Sister Sara is gone. But I am the parent now, so Sister Sara can do the cleaning.   HA!

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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