Transfer Home

On March 24, 2008 by Eden M. Kennedy

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.



27 Responses to “Transfer Home”

  • how, HOW do you make me laugh out loud when you’re writing about such gut-wrenching stuff? i just did that horrible snorting laugh and everyone looked at me. and by everyone i mean my five-year-old and three dogs. hope your mom is doing ok. and you too.

  • Thanks, I appreciate it.

  • You probably need some new flip-flops. That’s a good enough reason to hit Target, isn’t it? Oh, and if you had to go to Denver, at least there was a handsome firedude to ogle.

    Hope you and your mom are doin’ okay!


  • OMG, I’ve been on your end of things but I never imagined my dad bursting into flames. I think even he would have pissed his gurney at that one. Thanks for the laughs and here’s to your mom being comfortable and happy. And to you having a field day at Target. Beware the sale on Easter Candy.

  • Whatever her numbers really are, your mom looks tiny in the gurney. (If she ever asks “Does the internet think this gurney makes my ass look fat? you have the answer. You’re welcome.)

    I had to travel by ambulance twice this winter; the second time wasn’t really an emergency, in that we knew what was going on and knew it wasn’t going to kill me-unless I tried driving. I was directed to call 911 for an ambulance. I did, and was perfectly clear about the non-emergent nature of the need. The response? one firetruck, two police cars, and a fire department paramedic SUV-all to meet me waiting outside in me jammies for my ride to the hospital.

  • You seem to deal with the aging parent business so well. Or so much better than I have, anyway. It’s hard stuff. Your mom is lucky to have you there.

    And I believe half price Easter candy would be the perfect reason for a trip to Target.

  • I am reliable informed that one does not need a reason to go to target, its existence is sufficient reason to itself.

  • *wheeze snort gasp*

    Oh, Eden, I’m glad you’re there.

    And I’m SO glad you’re telling us about it!

  • I loved this post! My mom, who’s now 80, has lived with my family for the past 14 years. So many sad and funny things in this post to identify with. :o)

  • Target carries the Harry Potter version of 20Q. There’s a reason.

  • That may have been your best post ever!!! It has everything: a mom, cute firefighters (of both genders), Big Red Firetrucks and the possibility (however remote) of spontaneous combustion. I’m totally set for the rest of the week. Thanks for that! *grin*

  • I can think of thousands of reasons why I need to get to Target.

    I hope you are able to have a nice visit, then get back home soon. You need to set some traps for that rodent.

  • When I was nine, I climbed a tree and got stuck, so someone’s mom called the fire department, and for that they sent TWO full-size fire trucks, full of men in full-fire gear, an ambulance AND the fire marshall’s SUV. What?? I’ll never get over that. The fire department seems to have some sort of disproportionat response problem.

  • We go to Target for the same reason we climb Everest: BECAUSE IT’S THERE. What more excuse do you need?
    I’m glad your mom is doing well and that she didn’t burst into flames (though I think if maybe the edge of the stretcher were to have caught on fire magically, it would have been kind of funny).

  • It is law that firefighters be cute.

    Your mum sounds and looks quite sweet, and I hope she never spontaneously combusts (never had occasion to string those words together in such order) but silver lining? … cute firefighters.

    Off to Target…

  • this, my dear fussy, was one in a million. spontaneously combust…hohohohahahahehehe.

  • Your mom sounds like a gem — as do you, the sweet and humorous daughter. Oh, and the firefighters? I do think it’s in their hiring handbook. “All must be cute.”

  • Dude, it is so easy to get lost in suburban Denver, even if you grew up there. EVERYTHING IS NAMED THE SAME THING. Stone Lake Lane, Stone Lake Drive, around the corner from Stone Lake Circle. WTF is that about?

    Anyway, I, too, laughed at your pain, which is so not nice. Glad you can be there for your mom.

    And not that you have time, but if you need a drink (or 5) break, I am just up here in non-suburban Denver.

  • Ah, but what you must realize is that firefighters love to drive those big trucks around. Those kids you remember from your playground days? The ones who were always pushing toy trucks through the sand going “Brrrm, Brmmmm, Brrrrrrrrrm!”? Well, the really lucky ones, now that they’re grown, get to say “Hey, there’s a nice lady in Littleton who needs some help getting her mom up the stairs! Do ya wanna take the hook-and-ladder or the pump truck? Brrrrm, Brrrrrrrrrrmmmm!”

    One of my friends is a fire captain with the city here, and I tell you, it’s his childhood dream come true. Although he tells me that these days, he just does the “Brrrmmm” stuff in his head.

  • Man, what islaygirl said.

    I don’t know how it works in Denver, but I *think* there are national standards of operation for medical first-responder calls which require certain equipment to be… er, deployed? My husband is a volunteer firefighter and he says that even though it’s silly and fire trucks get about 1 to 3 (expensive) miles to the gallon and then have to be fully checked-out before being put back in service once they’ve gone out, the reason behind taking at least one is that they never are 100% sure what they’ll find when they get where they’re going, even if they think it’s just a routine “help the lady back into the house” call. It probably all stems back to that one time a fire department sent the pick-up truck to the “help the lady back into the house” call and she actually was on fire. Ah, bureaucratic protocol. But the real reason, of course, is that they get to play the siren and drive the big truck.

  • Firemen, not just for fires or gay porn. Who knew?

  • Aimee is right, plus you can count on at least one Arapahoe and two Canyons.

    I hope it makes it all a little bit easier that your Mom is sweet and appreciative of your presence. I have a feeling my Mom will turn into her Mom and be a holy terror.

    Also, I hope you see another one of those wrath of God sunsets over the Target parking lot. That was cool.

  • your blog ate my comment!

    words of love and support and amazement at your grace, humour and gentleness in which are you able to handle things. I want to be you when I grow up.

    Many thoughts of Zen and hot firemen, going to Colorado.


  • Best to you and mom. You and your brothers are good children.

    When you have time, I would like to hear the story about the “comical delays that involved being pinned between two passive-aggressive frat boys.”

  • Heyjoe: me, too!

  • Oy. What is it about firemen?

    Sorry about your mom – we’ve just gotten mine into hospice too.

  • You write with such positivity about something most would not be able to see the humour or light in. Love it.

    Colorado has the hottest firefighters in the world. WHen I lived there, I used to LOVE suprise fire drills.