I’m back at my mom’s house for a week. With Jack e-mailing disturbing reports from home on Easter, something about a break-in perpetrated by a giant rodent and a plastic chicken. An unholy union, to be sure! I’m surprised the dogs didn’t wake up while strange creatures were
humping scattering chocolate around the place, but that’s a bulldog for you, barking at intruders from safely under the bed.
Anyway, I’m out in suburban Denver because my brother, Chris, who lives with my mom and does a large part of her care, sneezed and threw out his back last week — I can’t laugh, I did the same thing once picking up a sock — so my other brother, Tim, arranged to put Mom in a respite care facility for several days. After some comical delays that involved being pinned between two passive-aggressive frat boys, I arrived late Saturday night, and Sunday I drove over to the old folks’ home with Chris to sign Mom out and oversee her transfer into an ambulance for the ride back home.
The ambulance-transfer people were awesome, just real calm and no problem! about everything. It takes a kind of decency I barely knew existed outside of Zen monasteries to deal with cranky, scared, dwindling old people every day. For the record, my mother is not often cranky or scared, she’s Just Old, what’s known in the gerontology business as being in a “functional decline.”
Growing old must suck unimaginably, but it sure whittles life down to a kernel of necessities. My mom’s always been pretty low-maintenance and now at 83 she manages to be sweeter and more cheerful (as long as you aren’t rolling her off to one side to change her sheets) than any able-bodied, ambulatory person I know. Happy to see me, glowing when she gets a kiss from Chris, chuckling about the fact that I cut up an apple to go with her lunch. Best to be back in her own bed, most of all.
I rode shotgun and Jennifer drove after she and Jerry got my mom loaded into the ambulance. It was my job to navigate us back to the old neighborhood, since a brush with MapQuest had left Jennifer deeply confounded. My mom’s house is thoroughly difficult to describe how to get to. I didn’t really see that growing up until the first time my parents went away for the weekend and I had to photocopy reams of an extremely detailed hand-drawn pre-Google map so that my entire high school would bring beer to me on the night John Belushi died.
About ten minutes away from the house Jennifer goes, “How much does your mom weigh?” At least 200 pounds, I said. Probably like 240 but I shaved off a few for vanity’s sake. Which you shouldn’t do if two people are trying to calculate how they’re going to move a 200+ pound woman on an 80-pound gurney up fourteen steps and into a house. That’s a good time to be honest, but Jennifer’s keen intuition wasn’t swayed by my petty machinations. She called for backup.
When we got to the house we found that both the hospice nurse and Littleton Fire in their GIGANTIC FIRE TRUCK had beat us there. Why don’t firehouses have smaller vehicles for firefighters to get to non-fire situations? Wouldn’t some kind of SUV be sufficient for moving old ladies/getting raccoons out of your cellar? I mean, my god, how much gas do those things use? Obviously I need to go buy the LFD some carbon offsets.
The firefighters were all extremely cute, as is required by firefighter hiring regulations. One Roy Scheiderish guy and two bluff, pixie-sized women wearing those big, thick, fireproof overalls. To carry my mom inside the house. In case she burst into flames! Which would have been sort of awesome if you think about it! But not really, of course, heavens no.
My god, look at how I ramble when I’m away from home. Okay, let’s wrap this up. Because I also need to tell you that THE INCREDIBLE HULK! now has an advice column over at MamaPop and he needs your support. Hulk is a very good listener and he wants to help everybody with their problems.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go think up another reason to go to Target.