Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Report from Pillville: The Final Days
Mom, let's talk about socks, I said. Mother, you like all these tank tops, right? Okay, now lets talk about pajamas. Sweaters. Pants. Shirts. Skirts. Shoes. All afternoon I went through my mom's closet while she sat at the dining room table eating cookies. We discussed the pros and cons of every article of clothing. How hard it was to put on or take off. The itchiness factor. Whether or not there were pockets. (Must have pockets!) What color rocks with the silver hair. Almost of the keepers are in the giant roller bag--except for the outfit for my sister and her husband's 50th anniversary party--which will go on the very top--and what my mom's wearing on the plane. I have a small load of laundry yet to do and then we'll be good to go. Thank god for my Delta mileage and my free checked bags.
How are you, the hospice nurse asked when she came by for her regular visit. She meant me. My mom's pulse ox and her blood pressure were fine. I see stress, she said, locking her blue eyelinered eyes with mine. I'll make it to the plane, I said.
Years ago when I was in college and home for the holidays, I went to my mom's company (John Deere) Christmas party with her. We were a bit late and when we walked in the room some guy shouted out, "Hey! Ethel's here!" There was a chorus of Hi Ethel, Merry Christmas, Ethel, Can I get you a drink, Ethel? Let's dance, Ethel. I felt like a geeky wallflower.
So hey, party people, if you're a relative of mine and living in northeast Iowa my mom is coming to town. I don't know about asking her to dance, but please visit her. If it's allowed, mix her up a 2-ounce martini or buy one of those single serving bottles of wine and join her for dinner. If you're a relative or friend of mine/hers and reading this, can you please share this post on Facebook to the wall of every relative/friend we know? If you're a niece or a nephew or hers, she'll tell you stories about your parents. As far as I can tell, she loved all of her siblings. Ask her who came home from the war unable to hold a cup of coffee. Ask her who was her favorite (you might get different answers, depending on her mood.) Ask her who had PTSD after the war and what he learned to do because of it. Ask her about the bobsled ride and who her mother threw out and took back when he came back with a broken arm. Ask her who became a hobo and rode the rails. Ask her who was the most talented. Ask her about bloomers and who always made her mother cry. About the baby who was a preemie, small enough to fit in a shoebox, kept warm by the wood stove and survived against the odds. Ask her about the goats and the Italian family, and the crick with the colored clay, the den of wolves, the snakes in the basement, the bounty on rattlesnakes, and the dog who would let people into the yard but not out. Tell me what you find out because after more than three years of stories almost every night, I'm pretty sure I haven't heard them all.