Lunch with Mom

December 7, 2011

I love my mother dearly, I truly do, but sometimes the woman drives me batty. And makes me worry that one day that will be me, telling the waiter at Denny’s exactly how to prepare a BLT (“Very lightly toasted, bacon very, very crisp, and none of that wilted lettuce, young man.”) “Mom,” I wanted to say, this is Denny’s.”

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We weren’t even supposed to be at Denny’s. Actually, it started even before my Mom and Dad pulled up at my workplace and called to let me know they’d arrived. “Great, come on in,” I’d said. “I’m just wrapping up a conference call.”

They couldn’t do that. Apparently Mom’s latest “thing” is that she “is terrified” to go into anyplace where there are strangers. I guess not being able to drive at night, if it’s raining, if it might snow and on the highways, being afraid of heights and closed spaces and crowds, being too “clumsy” to step off a curb, being unable to use anything of higher technology than a dial phone and being sure that she has every bizarre illness known to man is not enough oddness.  Now she has decided to make herself agoraphobic.

Sigh.  She’s 74. I guess if she wants to be the crazy old lady, she can do so.

At Thanksgiving we talked about the baby items we are making for my soon-to-be-born granddaughter. She had decided to make a quilt, I crocheted a baby bag and a couple little hats for her. “I need to mail them by the 1st, ” I said, since the baby is due the 15th. I told them I would call them to arrange for me to come out and pick up the quilt so I could mail them all together.  As time went on we realized we weren’t going to make the deadline, so I told her that was fine, if I got them out by this week we’d be okay, and I would call her when I could make it out.

Friday she called. “So what time will you be out tomorrow?”

I hadn’t made plans to go out there (and hour drive) Saturday. I had made other plans for Saturday (which involved having lots of sex with Ad and then going to a play party that night.)

“Huh?” I said.

“We made plans,” she insisted.

I “rescheduled” for Sunday. Now, given that she insisted that we had had plans for Saturday, and that those plans included me picking up the quilt, I assumed it would be done when I got there Sunday.

Assume and you make an ass–

Yeah, whatever.

So we had to schedule lunch for today so they could bring the finished quilt to be mailed. They agreed to come to my work and we would go from there to a nice little restaurant close by. Nothing fancy, but I knew it would be decorated for the holidays, it has a beautiful fireplace, and is right on a lake. Today was so beautiful and clear it would have been perfect.

Mom: “Can’t we go to Denny’s?”

Me: “Seriously? Denny’s?

Mom: “Yes, they have such a nice lunch there. Don’t they have a good lunch there, dear?” (to my dad.) “Our Denny’s is so nice, they have a sunken garden!”

So we went to Denny’s. Where she proceeded to return the utensils (sticky), instruct the waiter on her BLT and then drop her utensils on the floor, and even though she wouldn’t need her knife or spoon for a sandwich and fries, and I offered her mine if she did, she requested yet another set.

I asked her about meeting up with the local quilting group in her area that we had found online for her.  She has always had difficulty making friends, and when my father retired, was very jealous of any time that he spent with his friends, his family, or doing hobbies that didn’t include her–which is just about everything, because she can barely move, due to various mysterious ailments that the doctor (a “quack”) can never diagnose. “You need to make your own friends, Ma,” I said. “You have hobbies you enjoy. Then you won’t feel bad when dad goes bowling or hangs out with his brothers.”

“Oh no,” she said, about the quilting group. Then she divulged her fear of “walking into rooms with strangers.”

I had also advised that they find things to do together. My dad was a workaholic, and now…they needed to find something they could share as well as things that mom could do on her own.  She said she would like to get some exercise, and dad always liked to run and walk, so I suggested the Silver Sneakers program that a local hospital offers.  Her doctor agreed that it would be great for her.  That’s when she started having a “balance” issue. Suddenly she can’t maintain her balance and walks into walls and doorjambs.

“Did you look into the Silver Sneakers program for her, Dad?” I asked when she went to the restroom. “The doctor said so many of her physical issues could be alleviated if she got a little bit of exercise. Every little bit helps. Also, she will get to make friends and get to know some people her own age, see that she’s not alone in dealing with some of them.”

“You’re mom will never do it,” he said dismissively. “I had a gym membership for two years and she never went.”

“Oh really?” I’d never heard about that. “Where at?”

“Gold’s Gym,” he said.

GOLD’S GYM. For my then-72-year old mother. GOLD’S GYM. Christ. I’d be intimidated to go in there.

So. Other than that, and Mom being very awestruck at our “fancy Target,” here in the city, with its new-fangled parking garage, and staring at the houses as we drove by as if she’s never seen houses in a city before (“Look at what little yards they have! And how close together they are!”) lunch went well. Mom is sweet, and has a loving, generous heart. The quilt she made the baby is darling, and it was touching how proud she is of it.

I just have to never let them come to “the city” again.


Michigan – Endings and Beginnings

December 2, 2011

So here they are, the last of the snaps I took while we were on our mother/daughter retreat.

A bit about that, first. Ever since my Ex and I split, my daughter, who I refer to interchangeably as The Missy and The Girl,  and I have taken a yearly vacation together, just she and I. Usually it’s sometime in the summer, but this year it ended up being over Thanksgiving, which is perhaps apropos, since I am profoundly grateful to have had these times with her and to have been able to have this relationship with her. Not all mothers have such a close relationship with their teen-to-adult daughters.  Although my relationship with my own mother is wonderful now, close and loving, we had our struggles when I was growing up. So I know firsthand how unusual, and precious, my relationship is with her.

This time with my daughter was especially poignant, in that as she moves into true independence and adulthood, I can see that our yearly trips together may now become her yearly trips with girlfriends of hers (she is already planning her first girlfriend-vacation for next year.) I’m a little sad (and still hopeful that she and I can continue to do this, too) but also…it feels right for her to be making these plans without me.  Making her own plans, for her own life. I’m proud of her, excited for her, and proud of myself, too, in a small way, for having raised a girl that is as fearless, open and loving as she is.

We spent a lot of time talking this time around. In the past we have had a lot more pool/beach/hiking/activity time, but the beach was cold (as you’ll see) and mostly we just holed up, relaxing, writing and talking. It was more enforced relaxation than I’ve had in a long time, but it was really, really good.  For us both.

And the topics we covered…whew!…that’s a post all in and of itself. And of course (as mentioned in PoJ) there was her discovery of this blog…

But that’s another post.  Here, for now, are the last of the pictures.

The last two days were cold and blustery.

I have no idea what I was doing here.

But I know it was damn cold here.

And windy.

I love how the dunes take back the beaches when the summer folk go home.

And I loved the crash of the waves.

Monday it was clear again. Cold and windy, but sunny.

I was so glad to get my shot of the canoes on the beach.

And Tuesday, we were on the road again, headed back home.

All in all, a successful trip. “One of the best mother-and-daughter trips we have ever had,” the Missy wrote in the guest book at our place. And I have to agree. I hope that there will be many more to come.