In Which I Miss Something Important

In the seven months since my mom arrived in town, it never occurred to me to wonder if I should be receiving Medicare statements. I’ve been getting statements from her supplemental insurance.

Then I received an email from my oldest sister, with whom Mom lived before we brought her here. She’s been receiving the statements. And now they’re changing the prescription drug part of it. She said she’s not sure if the new insurance provider is based on mom’s old Ohio address or her current Missouri one. She’d mail everything to me in one big envelope.

Well. Hm.

The envelope arrived today. I’ll open it tomorrow. I couldn’t face it this afternoon. I thought we’d got her address change registered with Social Security and everyone. Her checks are being deposited to the correct bank account, at least.

So I have a project for next week. It’s always something. But I supposed if it weren’t always something, then it would nothing. And who wants that?

Feeding Teenagers Is No Joke





Feeding teenagers is no joke. Above is this week’s receipt from the grocery store. And I guarantee I will make a couple of fill-in trips before next Friday. I’ve had longer receipts. When I remember, I take my own reusable bags. As I walked out of the store today, I really and truly thought these words: “Cool! It all fit in eight bags!”

I have two kids. My parents raised six. At one point, they had four teenagers. Grocery day was a major event for my mom. I’m not sure how she managed. I recall large containers of rice and mammoth boxes of powdered milk in our kitchen.

In other news, I’ve inherited some of my 14-year-old’s outgrown clothes.

Oh, about the elephants – I have a thing for elephants. That’s why I keep toy ones on top of the filing cabinets in my home office.


“You’ve Just Crossed Over Into the Twilight Zone”

Cue Rod Serling. Cue the intro music everyone knows. Today I entered another dimension, with a completely surreal experience at my mom’s nursing home.

The first unusual aspect of the day: I made cookies. I only do this a couple of times a year, because I’m not all that domestic. However, last night was one of those times. My family at home ate most of them. But I took a couple in a sandwich bag for my mom, and then another small tin of them for the staff who would be working on Labor Day.

I decided to bypass the main door because I only had enough cookies for people down on my mom’s wing of the building. (It’s a big facility.) I entered instead through a door closer to her room. It opens into a small entry foyer, which then leads to a living room area with the nurses’ station, a large-screen TV, a piano, several recliners and a couple of end tables. That’s the usual set-up. Today, I came around the corner, ready to hand the cookie tin to whomever I saw at the nurses’ desk, and…there was no desk. No desk, no recliners, no tables, no piano, no nurses, no old people. Only an empty room.

What was this? My first thought went to movies, of all things. I recalled the movies and television shows I’d seen with plot-lines centered around an elaborate con, where the grifters set up a fake business. Inevitably, the conned person shows up at the office somewhere near the end of the movie, only to find it vacant. Surely nobody ever set up a fake nursing home. Right?

I looked around for clues. Oh hey, the flooring looked different. Where there used to be carpet I saw laminate. Aha! I proceeded down the hall to Mom’s room. She was there – whew! – and verified the residents had been told to stay out of the living room area while the new floor was laid. Then a nurse came in to put drops in my mom’s eyes. Good. Still in business, then. No taking the money and doing a runner.

Mom and I visited for over an hour. She was having a bit of a muddy day, cognitively. She’d start to reminisce about a family story, and then have to stop and get it straight in her mind how the person involved was related to her. This marked the first time I’ve seen this particular confusion. I mean, she calls me by my siblings’ names, but she always has. There are a lot of us and I’m the youngest. And really, I think she knew how the people were related, she just couldn’t conjure up the right word. She also asked me what those rolling things were called that people sit in and use to get around. “Wheelchairs, Mom.” Hmmm…Still, we managed to have a good chat.

When I got up to leave, I thought I’d have to track down a staff member somewhere to hand off the baked goods. I looked down the hall, expecting to see the empty room at the end. But instead, there was a nurses’ desk, with a nurse. And a room full of recliners, with old people sitting in them. The entire world changed while I was in with my mom.

“It can happen that way in the Twilight Zone.”