As you all well know, my mother spent most of the summer in a seniors' "retirement residence."
It was close to 8 weeks of blissful respite for me.
But I didn't tell you about one little glitch.
Sometime around the beginning of August, I took a call from the manager at the residence. She wasted no breath, and immediately launched into the fact that my mother's stay was imminently over, and that I was of course coming to pick her up in a couple of days, yes, no?
I was a bit taken aback, because I had actually arranged for a pick-up date of August 23rd.
I informed the caller of this fact. Undaunted, she continued to inform me that my mother's stay was coming to an end, and that I needed to fetch her. But soon.
All my arguments fell on deaf ears.
This was not the agreed arrangement, I protested.
Oh yes, it was, she answered calmly back.
No, I countered between clenched teeth, AUGUST 23rd was the agreed-upon pick-up date.
"That's not right, Ms. Martin," the infuriating manager intoned. "You will come for your mother within a day or two."
I checked the contract I'd signed, which, I discovered with no small amount of horror, was rather open-ended in its language.
What now? I became relatively frantic, and phoned Anthony at work, something I rarely do.
He was as mystified as I was, but suggested an-all-out campaign of regroupment.
I began a furious round of calling to every seniors' residence in Kookytown, trying to find one with a vacancy. I had to find a spot for Sally, or the remainder of our holidays would take a decidedly unpleasant turn.
In the end, I did find another place. I picked Sally up the next day, giving the manager a frosty glare as I groaned through the lobby under the vast weight of Sally's innumerable bags and steamer-trunk-like loads of stuff.
I theorized to myself that they'd probably found a buyer for the suite occupied by my mother, and had decided to unceremoniously rid themselves of her, in favor of a permanent resident.
"Dishonourable scalawags," I muttered not too softly. The manager looked amused.
Sally kept giggling happily, telling me how delighted she was to be heading home.
I kept telling her she wasn't heading home, which she very well knew, but was pretending to misunderstand, so as to hopefully guilt me into cutting my holidays short so she could return to ruling the roost at our home.
I didn't fall for it.
Sally: "Oh, it will be so good to be home."
Me: "We aren't going home."
Sally: "What do you mean?" (eyelashes batting rapidly)
Me: "We're going to another residence. You know that. I told you. It's because they are kicking you out early for some mysterious reason. Our holidays aren't over Mom. You can't stay by yourself at the house."
Sally: "Oh." (30 seconds pass)
"Yes, it's going to be good to be home (chuckle, chuckle)."
Me: "Not home. Residence."
Sally: "Oh. But it would be so nice to go home. Let's just go home."
Me: "Oh, no."
We continued on like this until we arrived at the new residence. Kathleen and I stayed for lunch to help her settle in. The conversation continued to revolve largely around the fact that my mother was glad to be going home.
Kathleen and I eventually stopped answering her, and after lunch, led her to her room and beat a hasty retreat.
Kathleen: "Whoa. She doesn't give up. Now I know how you are able to make me feel guilty so easily."
I gritted my teeth even harder at that.
On August 23rd, I went and picked up my mother, just as planned, and we did go home. On the ride home, she elucidated her opinion about one of my friend's husbands, and his allegedly roaming hands.
We were off to a bang-up start. There was no doubt Sally was back.
A few days ago, she chirped up brightly with another story.
She was sitting placidly, chewing her muffin-cud happily, discussing the delights of Kathleen's fluffy and delicious baked treats.
"The food is so much better at home," she sighed between contented smacking sounds.
"Not only is it better than at that residence," she added, "It's so nice to be able to eat when I want."
I frowned at her. The residence had liberal dining hours. Breakfast ran from 7 to 10am, lunch from noon until 2pm, and dinner from 4 to 7pm. In between, residents had access to all the fruit and baked treats they could ever desire.
"Well, that may be true, but there were really very few hours when you couldn't eat at the residence, when you think about it," I said.
I saw my mother's nose go up in the air, and knew something other than her beak was up.
She looked grumpily out the window, proboscis waving in the atmosphere as she finished her last chew.
"Well, they sure wouldn't serve me when I went in the dining room," she announced.
I remained silent, wondering what the hell had happened.
"I'd go in at 11, and ask for breakfast. The staff were perfectly happy to accommodate me. But that bitch of a manager. She started coming in and saying the dining room was closed until noon."
My mother loves cursing. Sally pronounced her story in aggrieved tones. She looked over to me, presumably to enjoy the shared outrage I should be displaying.
"At 11?" I said. "The dining room wasn't open at 11," I sputtered. "The manager had a point."
Sally looked nonplussed at that.
"After all Mom, what if every resident started insisting on their own hours? It would cause huge problems in how they manage the dining room."
Sally was silent. She hadn't expected anything but complete support from me.
"Well," she finally added. "I didn't see why they shouldn't just make a little breakfast for me. It would have been hardly any trouble at all."
Her tone was absolutely frozen and stiff.
"After all, I was paying them to stay there."
"Yes, Mom. But so is everyone else. And everyone else was following the rules."
"Perhaps." Sally was enraged with me, I could tell.
She shifted her weight heavily off the chair, making ready to leave the room.
"But I still felt they should have accommodated me. I told that manager."
"What did you say to her, Mom?" I had a bad feeling.
"I told her I didn't know I was staying in a prison." Sally looked triumphantly at me, clearly pleased at the memory of her argument with the manager.
"I told her what a horrid person she was. I told her straight out."
I let out a little groan.
Now I knew why I'd received the unexpected call from the manager at the residence. They'd had enough of Sally's prima donna routine, and wanted her out, out at any cost, out before the agreed-upon date.
Sally has that effect, wherever she goes, I've found.