It came as a text. In one of those fun-looking little speech iPhone bubbles.
This wasn’t a fun bubble. It was an explosive one. Annihilating my favorite time of day, that second cup of coffee on my lounge with my dog, after dropping kids off at school.
An explosive tiny bubble from the woman who has been helping my mother. Part of the patchwork of “aides,” really just decent local people who have answered local ads I’ve placed; this patchwork, hodgepodge perhaps, has proven far more beneficial than the wrinkle-free real aides from insured blah-blah-blah home-health aide agencies. Like the one we’d hired this summer who sat in front of a fan when not hovering over my mother, a shadow useless outside of her looming over my mother’s walker; someone to keep my mother “safe,” but who didn’t care much for cooking and refused to step out into the hot sun to water my mother’s parched deck geraniums.
This texting bubble-bursting woman has a heart of gold, which fortunately or unfortunately matches a temper that will make her scoop up from her lawn her neighbor’s “dog shit” and fling it back at their windows.
But her personality is as big as her boxy physique, and as colorful as her Hello-Kitty T-shirts. Most importantly, she makes my mother laugh. Daily. With her outrageous flinging dog-shit stories and about her “jackass” ex-husband, except for the part where he is negligent in his child support.
“Your mom’s a pip,” usually would be her texts. As they do (or did?) get along.
Problem is, at 94 my “pip” of a mom wants to retain control. Understandable. It is still her life. And her house.
But said dog-shit-flinging-godsend really, also likes to be in control, can hardly restrain herself from organizing my mother’s cluttered bureau into neat files and boxes.
My mother likes her cluttered bureau.
They have spats like sisters do.
But one day, the spat went too far. For reasons that could be another post.
But this post isn’t about why she quit.
It’s about the fact that I thought she did quit. And how one human being, namely me, sometimes deals with such morning bombshell text bubbles: I panic. Who will come get my mother’s breakfast and pick her up from the emergency room after one of her falls? Who will be there when I can’t because my children are my priority? Or should be?
My coffee went cold. Because I needed to walk in circles.
So I took the new pup for a walk around the block. Around and around and around, until his favorite pee rock was met with the glazed eyes of having watched too much Youtubes.
I’d thought the circle-walking would help rouse me from my dumbfounded state – how I really just wanted to stare into a calming fish-tank. ( The one that now houses our incessantly-chewing energy-fueled gerbils.)
It didn’t. So we went home. I walked a few more circles around the downstairs. Blind to the pup now shredding catalogues from the recycling basket. Until he met up with the kitchen broom. The broom that baffles and unnerves him into a growling state. What is left to do when dumbfounded? Abandoning the dog to his broom phobia, I went upstairs to tackle the sock basket:
There should be rescue sock associations as there are for abandoned pets. Ok, so socks aren’t dogs. But it saddens me when one has lost its match. That every Christmas, my husband has only one Santa wish: for more socks in his stocking. Complete pairs.
But I can’t bring myself to throw out the matchless “homeless” ones. So in my dumbfounded state, I went so far as to paw through his sock drawer, in a search based on false hope; I always match up those pairs that do make it whole out of the dryer. I was wasting precious time on a pointless endeavor. But I’d been rocked off course from the daily productive to-do sticky-note list.
Instead, I would contemplate a very old argyle sock:
This sock has been in the basket now going on three years. Its mate never has been found. Still. There might be hope.
For the sock. Not for my day – Later, I would find the to-do sticky still stuck to the kitchen counter and be reminded of all the things I didn’t get done. I would not get the vacuuming done. I would not get the laundry done. I would forget to go the bank. I would even forget to pick my boys up from an fifteen-minute early dismissal – to be met by fearful little faces white as sheets as if I’d been eaten by a raging bear. “We’ve been waiting a thousand hours,” my youngest whined. Behind him the school aide gave me a forgiving smile. Thank god. For forgiveness.
On the upside to that down-sided day, I did remember their dental appointments, and found some relief in gazing into the waiting-room fish-tank; I enjoyed most the carefree angelfish, though identified better with the sluggish catfish scuffling along the bottom.
I did receive a follow up message from “I quit” text bubbler to say that my mother had just pissed her off, but she loves her too much to really quit. There is truth in that and in her true devotion to their quirky relationship. And I am grateful.
But I did text back: “Please do not quit in a text.” For heaven or hell’s sake, at least do it in a voicemail. Those BUBBLES. Pop them all.