Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's All Crap (Apparently)

My mother's imagined needs are numerous and pressing.

I take her places several times a week. All of these journeys are hugely important to her and they can't wait for anything. Nothing is more important, for example, than fetching her medication (and there is so very much of it), going shopping for clothing and/or shoes that is not needed, getting her hair done (every six weeks without fail, at the best place in town), or having the podiatrist clip her toenails.

My mother has been getting her toenails cut, at public expense, for at least 40 years now. It's a benefit she receives from her veteran's widow pension. (and yes, my father retired about 40 years ago...)

This week, her podiatrist appointment conflicts with Kathleen's graduation ceremony from elementary school.

This fact has caused me unending grief.

My mother has known about the graduation ceremony for at least two months now. The date has been written on my calendar, as has Alexander's graduation from middle school, a day earlier than Kathleen's.

Yet she scheduled a podiatrist appointment on the same day. Inevitably, this has become my problem.

Upon "realizing" the conflict, my mother began the harassment campaign.

Sally: "I need to change my podiatrist appointment so that I can attend Kathleen's graduation." (Translation: "you need to fix this problem for me.")

Me: (interrupted, as usual, as I try to work)"Go ahead, change it. You don't need to tell me every detail Mom."

Sally: (silent, shuffling.) "Well."

Long silence. (Translation: "You still need to fix this problem for me.")

Sally: "Will you call them?" (Sally doesn't like talking on the phone unless she likes talking on the phone. Then she has no difficulties calling anyone on planet Earth).

Me: "I am trying to work. I will call when I get a chance."

Now, as I mentioned above, Sally's needs are pressing, and immediate. They can't wait. So she stands and pesters.

She follows me and pesters. And she shoves herself in my way if I try to flee. I could be having a heart attack and trying to call an ambulance, and she'd keep yapping at me as she disconnected the emergency call, insisting her need is greater than mine.

It was a sunny morning, and I'd been waiting for weeks to do a bit of exterior painting. She followed me outside, and stood at the base of the ladder as I brushed white primer over a new patch of stucco at the side of our house. And she continued to pester.

I asked if perhaps she could trim her own toenails this month, eliminating the problem. Her mouth formed a perfectly round, completely shocked "O."

She couldn't even speak, so stunning a suggestion had I made. Mutely, she shook her head slowly back and forth, the mouth hanging open in the perfect O.

Me: "Well, I can call, but I doubt at this late juncture that you'll be able to get a replacement appointment for several months now, never-mind to another day this week."

She knew this, but didn't care. I needed to fix her problem for her and she would hound me to the depths of hell to achieve that end.

I called. They couldn't get her in. Sally hounded me more. I called again. They said they couldn't get her in, but that if anyone canceled at the last minute, she'd be the first they'd call.

I related these facts to Sally, then went downstairs to start my laundry, and overheard her calling them again (suddenly, she was able to make the call herself). She identified herself, and then in the most wheedling, sly voice you can imagine, asked yet again if they could somehow fit her in.

They obviously said no, and repeated that she was on the cancellation list, but I knew she'd call and pester them, and hound me, again, before the next hour was out.

I felt ill just thinking about it, I was so tired of carrying her vast weight around with me all the time.

More, on why It's all Crap (Apparently), To Be Continued...

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