I Sent Forth My Minions

I find myself incapacitated by a summer cold this week, and thus unable to visit my mother at the nursing home. Nobody there needs to catch what I have.

Yet she needed some things. For instance cough drops. So I sent forth my minions to perform the labor. Or perhaps I should say proxies. Proxy is a nicer word than minion, isn’t i? The thing is, I discovered other people will step up when I’m sick. My husband and daughter went out to see my mom on Sunday since I couldn’t.

My husband came back telling me what an interesting visit it was. My mother told him all sorts of stories about her past. I called Mom yesterday and she, likewise, told me what a great time they had. I’ve never thought about it, but the two of them have never visited together without me there before. Maybe they should do it more often. They had a blast.

I guess the world can go on without me if it has to.


Things Don’t Go As Planned

This happened on Saturday:

Yep, that’s my family’s van. Nobody was seriously injured, a fact for which I’m still uttering a little silent thanks every hour or so. My husband and kids were about three hours away from home, on the verge of a planned float trip, when they were hit by a bus.

The plan was for them to have a fabulous time on the river (I’m not much of a water person) while I had an entire glorious day to myself. I had my agenda in front of me – a morning of catching up on housework with my own selected music playing at my own selected volume, followed by a visit to my mom, some exercise, a block of writing time, and an evening outing with friends from work. I got some housework done before the phone call.

It was one of those Murphy’s Law days where you have to choose whether to laugh or cry as you wonder what else could possibly happen, and then something does. I choose to laugh, because the things that happened were really small compared to the fact that nobody was seriously injured.  My crew even decided to go ahead and do the river float while waiting for me to arrive.

Saturday afternoon I set out in our other vehicle – a 16-year-old Honda Civic with 178,000 miles – to find the middle-of-nowhere place where my family was stranded. The bank time and temperature signs I passed along the way displayed temps anywhere from 95 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit. To make the day extra special, my Civic decided to spring a freon leak, so I had to say goodbye to the air conditioning. The white mist pouring out from the vents made for an exciting special effect, however.

I got lost, but that’s not unusual for me. I build getting lost time into my travel plans, because it happens so often. I wasn’t overly lost, only a little bit. I probably added 15 minutes total onto the trip by missing a turn.

I arrived to discover my family had managed to lose the sunscreen, so sunburns all around.

Believe it or not, we managed to get the van back home. We decided to have my husband drive it, while I followed behind with the kids. Two windows in the van were shattered on impact, filling the interior with broken glass (which is the second time we’ve experienced this with a minivan; the first time was the result of an F1 tornado.)

By the time they were all done floating and we left the place, it was nearly 7:00. We stopped along the way for gas and food. Then we drove into…Severe Thunderstorms!  So severe, we had to stop and pull off the road twice because it was impossible to see. This was on narrow, two-lane, unlit, rural Missouri highways with no shoulders, only ditches to each side. The first time, we found a private driveway to wait it out. The second, we lucked onto a side road that led to a commuter parking lot. (Commute to where?) And did I mention, the van is missing two windows? It got pretty wet. My poor hubster. Plus, the lack of a working compressor in the other car meant it was nearly impossible to defog the Civic’s windshield without turning up the temp on the blower to hot. The kids and I were *very* warm for a while. Trapped in a hot, little car, with teens who have already been sweating all day is its own kind of special. I have to give them credit, however, for being remarkably unwhiney through the whole ordeal.

The rain finally abated enough we could drive again. And my daughter remembered she had her iPod with her, plus a device to let it play through the car radio. She and her brother decided they’d feel better with music, specifically songs she had from “My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic.” So there was that for 45 minutes.

But we all made it home safe and well. As long as a tree doesn’t fall on our house or something. HAHAHAHAHAHA!


A Latte Experience

I love the activities director at my mom’s nursing home for the variety of ways she finds to expand the lives of the residents, from bringing in musicians to having a banana split social, to loading up those who are able to go for a country drive. One of the things I find depressing about the idea of nursing home residency is what I see as the shrinkage of a life. I compare my life – my ability to get in a car and run around town, shop for food I want at the grocery store (within my budget), go for a walk, have pets – to my mom’s situation of spending most of her time within the same building, her choices curtailed.

I see it as part of my job description to help her keep connections to the outside world and to help grow her life experiences into something bigger than the walls of one building. This doesn’t  have to be  a major undertaking on my part. Little things can go a long way.

Mom has her own phone, with large numbers, but she can’t seem to manage making a phone call on her own any more. She gets flustered by the need to dial “9” for an outside line, and then loses her place while dialing, forgetting which numbers she’s pressed already. It’s easy enough, when I’m visiting, for me to ask her whom she’d like to call today, and then put the call through for her.

Since she was unable to go to my son’s piano recital, I got permission to let him come play his pieces on the piano at the nursing home, so she could see him perform. As a bonus, several residents heard the music and managed to get into the piano area, so he ended up with an audience.

Most recently, I decided my mom should have the opportunity to try a latte at least once in her life. She’s never had much in the way of spare cash lying around, and spending on a frou-frou coffee drink was far outside the realm of anything she’d consider. But I thought she’d like it, so I drove through Starbucks on my way to see her and picked up one for each of us.  See what I did there? That way it was us doing something together, rather than her feeling I was getting her something extra or expensive. She verified what I expected – she’d never had one before. But she liked it. She kept saying, “That’s so good.”

Finally, she admitted that maybe she wouldn’t feel too bad about the money spent if I wanted to bring her another one some time, though she insisted I should take it out of her bank account. I’m not going to take it from her money, and I won’t tell her how expensive it is. But I will be happy knowing you can still have new experiences at the age of 87.

The Price Remains the Same, the Size However…

Some days I go to the store and walk away with the suspicion that eventually I’ll be handing them my entire paycheck for a handful of molecules. Has anyone else noticed the phenomenon of decreasing package size? The price on an item stays the same, but the amount in the package is smaller. Pretty soon, there will be nothing but sample size left.

If you have noticed, here’s evidence that you’re not imagining it. If you haven’t noticed, you might start paying attention.  Same shelf, same time:

Click on the photos to enlarge and see if you can spot the difference.