It is amazing what perseverance and determination will do. Yesterday morning I went out to feed Mom and found her showered and dressed in her sweats, her white hair (cut short by Sister Sara) washed and askew, sticking up in every direction. She couldn’t find her comb, but she wanted to go out, somewhere, anywhere.
When I said I had to be in Houston to present at a Teachers’ Workshop, she decided she would go with me. Images of slow, difficult, two-cane walking made my gut clench and my jaw tighten. “Yes, Mom. Eat your breakfast and put on your nice black pants and I’ll pick you up in a few minutes.”
Houston traffic is a nightmare at any time of day, but 9 am in the morning is truly terrifying. Highway 290 is under construction and I wasn’t sure where Tidwell came off of the loop, so, of course, we got lost. As I fumed, Mom started giggling. I smiled and took a deep breath. I stopped at a gas station, used the map, cursed the lying GPS, found a way around the construction and finally arrived at the very elegant Teachers’ Service Center, with half an hour to spare.
The amazing thing about being accompanied by a 96 year-old mother is that you can get curb-side service. The reactions vary when people learn her age. “Oh, isn’t she cute?” (You would think she was 2.) “You must enjoy her so much!” (Oh, THAT’s right). “You are so lucky to have her!” (Yeah, I’m sure). Maybe I was feeling a little pressured and snarky.
Thanks to the handicap hang-tag, courtesy of her doctor, we parked right beside the front door of the massive complex. The receptionist instantly provided us with a large and comfortable wheel chair. A young man whisked us directly to the conference rooms, offering us coffee and the facilities along the way. Stephen Cure and his TSHA staff graciously welcomed us, exclaiming over meeting Mom.
Before I knew it, Mom was surrounded by a coterie of my admiring friends. Denton Florian, cinematographer and historian, knelt beside her to discuss Sam Houston. K.R. Wood, one of my fellow presenters, and a cowboy singer, serenaded her with Moon River. They whisked Mom off to hear Wood’s presentation and I breathed a sigh of relief. She loved the attention, enjoyed the presentation and was thrilled to be honored by other teachers.
That should have been enough for one day, but I had three other back-to-back meetings in Huntsville. The lying GPS took us out of the way on the road home, so I was late to the Historical Commission meeting on the Courthouse square. To my surprise, having Mom along helped me to take it in stride, especially with her laughing. She insisted on staying in the car while I went into the meeting.
Huntsville, fortunately, is a small town and Mom is more familiar with it than I realized. She needed to use the restroom and the Courthouse was right across the town square. She and Al had been married there so it held very pleasant memories. Slowly, she made her way out of the car, hobbled her way across the street and found the facilities, with no trouble at all.
After my meeting, I got back to the car and found her happily reading, feeling very smug and successful. I introduced her to some of the members. Again, great admiration and praise. George Russell insisted on giving her a tour of his “museum” – a random, dusty and unlabeled collection of furniture, pottery and old broken Texana.
From there, Mom asked to stop at the sculpture garden where Corazon, a young Mexican artist, is creating mosaic masterpieces. Sister Sara had taken Mom there the previous week. Then the bank and the post office, and at long last home, exhausted but happy.
I missed my last two meetings, but it didn’t really matter. Mom had had a wonderful outing.