Friday, April 17, 2015

She was back

Wednesday afternoon I had a date. A date with my mom to go grocery shopping. Not very glamorous.

She's been struggling with cooking as she recovers from a fall and rod inserted from her hip to knee. Generously her church, friends, neighbors and two clubs to which she belongs have been keeping my parents well stocked with food. But the meal train (yes, there is a scheduling website by that name) ends next week.

And she wants to be independent, so I suggested we create a list and shop. Her diet is complicated. I was looking forward to quality time and getting the chance to discover who she is these days after a surgery and two months away.

In recent years, we have discussed that I am her mother and she is Lily – or that we share the other's characteristics. I am quiet and sensitive much like her mother and she is feisty and independent like my youngest. This knowledge helps me understand my daughter and our relationship better and the same for my mother and our complex connection. I think there is no relationship more complicated than mother and daughter. PERIOD.

I left my studio Wednesday afternoon in enough time to drop by the house and say hello to my daughters. Oddly, no one was home, so I texted my husband, who said the girls had walked to McDonald's for a snack and to do their homework. The proximity and free WIFI make it a convenient choice. I swung by and got roped into buying food for my youngest. She's perennially hungry. My oldest was fighting with a slow internet connection to finish a paper. I said I had to leave in 10 minutes to get Mimi (their name for my mom) and take her shopping. They were so engrossed that I felt invisible and mute. Once again, I announced that I had to leave if they wanted a ride. No response, so I waited in the parking lot, texted with no success and left to collect my mother. It was not the way I would have wanted to leave. Things unfinished. Unsaid. Teenagers.

When I arrived at mom's, she was tucked in to her back bedroom watching a movie, waiting. Took awhile to gather her jacket, walker, purse and grocery list and slowly exit from the treacherous garage step and into my Prius. Thankfully, it sits low to the ground and she had no trouble swinging her bad leg into position and getting comfortable. I had anticipated an ordeal. 

My dad handed me their handicap-parking permit, which enabled us to park much closer. My mother insisted on walking, not being dropped off. It was interesting to see how people responded to her slowness. Generally, they were kind, except those in cars in a hurry.

We picked out a motorized cart with the gentle help of a store employee. Can I just say I LOVE the people at my local Kroger's? They alway go the extra mile, like the time I experienced a pain meltdown in the frozen-foods aisle when I came for one thing, skipped the basket and buckled under the weight of one-too-many items. A cheery face offered help, left, then quickly returned with a cart. I made sure to tell her manager.

Mom had a blast driving the cart and did really well, which surprised me since she can't drive anymore ... she lost her peripheral vision in a surgery, we think. I reminded her not to nip my heels like Lily always does with the cart. She didn't.

We both had lists. She penned one and I jotted down some things I thought would be easy. They were very similar. We began scanning the aisles and conferring on choices, getting that list under control. It was a very fruitful two hours and I was able to witness how much better my mom is than I had expected. When I couldn't remember that last thing on the list, she did, immediately.

I might have been prepared for this nice surprise if I had paid more attention to what a physical therapist had said in the hospital a few day earlier. A severe episode of vertigo kept here there four days. The PT marveled at her ability to maneuver given her recent surgery. She is religious in completing her strengthening exercises.

And the way she whipped around the store in that cart. Yes, Lily is HER granddaughter. Completely. And my mom is herself.

• How do I handle those I love age?
• How do I handle my own aging?
• Have I learned to ask for help?
• Can I befriend this part of life?
• How does it draw me closer to Spirit?

frail, I feared
walker, slow steps
and all

faded memory and
a somber duty


the moving
cart became like
a new toy to
be tested and tried

and she passed
with flying colors

the memory had
thrown off the
anesthesia hangover

and she was

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