On Guilt and Elderly Mothers
At 96, it appears that Mom has finally settled here in the trailer on our ranchito, but is it more jail than home? She has given up her car and has no way to get to town unless I take her. If I do take her, it exhausts her. If I don’t—and go off shopping and leave her alone all day—she is frightened and frustrated at being alone. Too much football watching and no one to talk to.
Saturday, I took Mom, at her insistence, to the local Master Gardener’s Plant Sale. It was chilly, in the 50’s, and we had to get there at 7 am to be first in line to pick out the vines Mom wanted for her trellis. She now has a Debit card and has realized she doesn’t need to get cash anymore. But she wants to keep a tight hold on the card—hence her insistence on paying for the vines herself.
Fortunately, I had borrowed a wheelchair and put Mom in it for the first time ever. She didn’t even complain since she really can’t stand for long. Then I had to bundle her up in blankets and give her hot tea to try to keep her warm. Eskimo-like, she looked like a mound of white blankets on wheels, her hands and feet chilled, her face pale, eyes peering around, but bound and determined to be there.
When the opening bell sounded, we rushed toward the vines, rattling and bouncing over the wooden walkways, her tea sloshing, her teeth jarring, I’m sure. There were only four Passion flower vines available, so I piled one on her lap, not being able to haul a wagon and push her too. Thank goodness, our gardener, Don Knight, showed up and grabbed the other three vines for us and put them in the small wagon pulled by his Mexican helpers.
Then she saw camellias, azaleas and butterfly bushes of various sorts. Then peach trees to replace the ones that died out in the back pasture. Then two more figs to join the one lonely one beside her trailer. All went into the little red wagons – now three—towed along behind us. Finally, I called a halt and parked her beside our growing collection in the pick-up lane.
While I went to pay, ($400!!!) Don and his crew loaded up the plants to take home. I poked the tall peach trees into my CRV and finally got Mom back in the car and home. She insisted on walking around the plants that Don had unloaded by her trailer, and wanted to know where the hose was to water them. Same place it’s always been, but she’d forgotten, so we watered the plants. Thank goodness for Don and his Mexicans who will plant them on Tuesday.
Is it any wonder that I spent Sunday shopping at Nordstroms and left Mom at home to watch football?