So in the end Anthony and I drove Sally to her far-flung safety deposit box. We emptied the contents, closed the account and brought her home, where with evident delight, she inspected her pearls and the yellowed bank statements she'd placed in the box last summer.
She acted as if she'd never rented a box before, and in fact told me she didn't really know how they worked because she'd never had one.
I know for a firm fact that my mother always kept a safety deposit box with her bank in Winnipeg, for pretty much the entire time I can remember. So, say, 40 years.
She doesn't remember that.
But this is much about nothing.
The latest chores keeping me hopping are my mother's daily, constant and whining demands surrounding the upcoming cocktail party to be held for one of her friend's 90th birthday.
This friend of hers, Willa, is my mother's oldest friend, ha ha, and by that I mean they've known each other since the age of 5 or so. Two little Polish girls growing up in the north end of Winnipeg.
Now, Willa's daughter, who by total coincidence also lives in Kookytown and holds a prominent, high-paying job, is throwing a shin-dig for Willa, who still lives in Winnipeg. Willa will fly to Kookytown closer to the party date.
Now, Willa visits K-Town from time to time, of course. She visits her daughter and grandson, and since Sally moved here, Willa also drops in to visit all of us in my home.
But Willa's whole life has been in Winnipeg. She doesn't know very many people here, and certainly has no old friends here, other than Sally.
Yet her daughter is throwing the party here. I know what it will be like, full of important people in important outfits, drinking excellent wine and eating catered nibblies, talking about very important things. They will all know each other. Some may have met Willa a few times.
Make no mistake, this party is really about Willa's daughter.
In any event, we are all invited.
This has thrown my mother into a tizzy. She needs her hair done, her toenails clipped, a new outfit purchased, and of course, a meaningful yet inexpensive gift acquired.
I have to arrange everything. Apparently. So I'm told. Every day.
I did come up with the meaningful, yet inexpensive gift. I've taken an ancient picture of the two little Polish girls, dressed up in their school uniforms and flanked by Nuns, and another, more recent picture of the same gals, and had them blown up and framed. The pictures blown up. Not my mother :)
Nice, I thought.
It will definitely be the most meaningful gift there, if only by dint of the fact that no one else attending will be anywhere near so close and old a friend to Willa, as is my mother.
But her demands for a new outfit are ludicrous. My mother can't buy clothes off the rack. She is fat and lumpy and so saggy she seems melted.
She knows this. But she wants a new wool suit.
"Why didn't you mention this at least a month ago?" I snarled at her when she began her demands. The party is in two weeks.
"You know you'll need a suit tailored. You WILL NOT be able to find anything to fit ready-made. You know this."
Sally: (pouting) "But I didn't know I'd need anything then."
Me: "You've known this party was happening for at least 6 months."
Sally: "You need to take me shopping."
Me: "We won't find anything. You know that. Last time we went, you tried on a million things, then started swearing and flung everything down and we came home and you told me again how you can't fit anything and need a tailor."
Sally: "I did?" (making disingenuous cow eyes)
Sally: "Have you found a nice card yet? What about the hair appointment?"
Etc. Etc. Etc.
Later, she'll start in again about needing a new suit. How I am supposed to solve her dilemma is beyond me. But she expects me to. And she will let me hear about it, until I do solve it.
Today, to get her off my back, I set her the task of making a few pierogi. Alexander adores them and will devour a dozen at a time. My mother's probably made a million of them in her life time.
But when I took her to the kitchen counter and pulled out the recipe (written out a few years ago for my benefit, not hers, as she has always made them up from memory), she gazed silently at the card for a minute, then looked at me with her trademark blank expression, mouth hanging open, and said: "I don't know how to make these."
A lifetime of safety deposit boxes and pierogi-making, gone.
But tomorrow, she'll certainly remember to harass me about getting her a new wool suit, that I know for sure.
And there's one other thing she'll remember, without a doubt.
We'll get to Willa's birthday party, and there will stand Jim, the husband of my very good friend Babs, the very Jim who villainously inhabits my mother's "memories," skulking about in her mind as a lecherous fiend who grabs innocent women's buttocks (my mother's, to be specific).
All a false memory. Jim has never touched my mother, nor any woman other than Babs, at least lately, as in the last few decades, I'm sure.
But my mother will "remember" his grab for her rump.
I hope to God she doesn't decide that it's high time she slapped his face good and hard, to punish him for his brazen, if imagined, assault.
Thus, I await the party with a bad feeling.