“There’s a strange man peering in the windows.”
I don’t know why, but these calls from my mother’s aide do seem to coincide with dinner preparation. The last call, about my mother having an accident all over the bathroom floor, caused me to scorch our hamburgers.
This time, I was baking salmon. Wild salmon — not cheap, so should be cooked to perfection, not too red, just a touch of pink, not too well done.
“He was peering in your mother’s bedroom window, then he went all around the house looking in windows and then tried the back door.”
I was also making white rice. Which I can easily burn.
Frankly, these days my mother’s house looks unoccupied. After she had her license revoked, she sold the old blue badly-dented minivan, so there is no car in her large gaping circular driveway. Her aide likes to work on her computer in the dark, so few lights are ever on. In the fall, I had made a point of buying pumpkins and bright yellow mums for the front stoop. At Christmas, I hung a humongous wreathe. The wreathe turned to brittle, and all that is left are the dead pots with mum stalks. Never mind unoccupied. The house looks abandoned.
“He was driving an old model wagon and I wrote down the license plate,” said-aide said.
Which meant I had to find my sticky pad to write the plate # down, to stick next to all the other stickies stuck to my kitchen counter— sticky reminders to call my mother’s landscaper to come seed lawn. Call to get her sprinklers turned on. Call her doctor to renew a prescription…. my to-do stickies for our own abode and ortho appointments that haven’t made it yet to the calendar were stuck somewhere else – and I can’t remember where I’d stuck them.
Great. I’m reduced to forgetting where I put reminders.
The “strange man” had already driven off, but said-aide suggested I notify the police.
The police. Sigh.
Not that I wasn’t a bit alarmed myself – said-aide has a good instinct for trouble; when my mother was scammed by a chimney company, she’d called me then too, suspicious of the “strange man” who seemed high on drugs and was there only twenty minutes evidently to replace an entire chimney liner.
So I called the town police, forgetting to check on the precious expensive better-for-you-than-farmed-salmon salmon.
“Did you get a physical description?” Mr. Police Officer said.
“Mom, I want this game.” Suddenly my little hipster eight year old, Little Bro, was in front of me with my iPad. I say gangster because he’s taken to wearing a black hoodie every single waking moment.
As “cool” as he may try to be, his face was filthy; I couldn’t remember when I’d last commanded he take a shower. There was even something stuck in his hair. Dried catsup from those scorched hamburgers how many nights ago? I couldn’t remember that either….
“But it’s freeeeeeeeeeeeeee,” he whined. The little hipster who still sleeps with blankie.
“We’ll send a car over right away,” Mr. Policeman said.
Just to get hipster hoodied Little Bro to go away, I tapped in my apple ID password. Then on my phone tapped out a text to said-aide that police would be arriving “right away”.
Little Bro crinkled his filthy nose. “What’s that smell?”
The rice. It was burning.
And I was about to check on the fish when my mother called.
“There’s been some man peering in the windows.”
“So I heard.”
“It’s probably Rickey.”
In my mother’s descent into dementia, her memory can play such tricks on her that I’m always surprised by who and what she remembers and doesn’t remember.
Rickey is a man my mother had employed for years to do odd jobs like pull up weeds and haul out her deck furniture. She has a knack for taking on sad saps who need the money but essentially are useless. And sad-sap Rickey was known for peering in windows rather than bothering to knock on doors.
I asked her if she’d told the aide that.
“I did but she wants to call the police. Said people shouldn’t be peering in your windows. And I didn’t see him myself so it is a little unsettling…” she’s also prone to a bit of paranoia, believing said-aide herself spies on her and that I’m stealing all her money to go have “fun” when I’m really “stealing” it to pay her bills and said-aide.
Then I heard in the background said-aide giving to police a physical description.
“Police here now,” my mother said. “I’ll call Rickey and see if it was him.”
She hung up.
I checked the fish. It was too late — dry as sunbaked driftwood.
I turned off the oven and was about to take the fish out when my mother called back. To tell me it had been Rickey. And that the police had a good chat with him about how he shouldn’t go around peering in windows. And that he deserved to go in timeout.
Dinner that night: Hubs politely picked at the driftwood salmon. The boys, in their usually painfully honest ways, defiantly put down their forks. “It’s dry. Yuck.”
Then Big Bro: “Mom, I want that game too,” the one I’d downloaded on my iPad –somehow Little Bro had sneaked my iPad to the dinner table disregarding usually firm rules of no electronics at family meals.
I forgot to remind him of this rule and only said, “Well, ask Daddy.” He’d usurped Daddy’s own iPad for games.
Daddy looked at the game. “What is this game?”
I had no idea. But evidently it wasn’t entirely age appropriate. In the midst of that initial mid-police officer convo, I’d seen it was some cartoon thing, even though it had some guns, which for hipster Little Bro who is also part assassin, these days is getting harder to avoid.
I just hadn’t notice the little shooter was a girl with melon-sized boobs.
And then I couldn’t remember for the life of me whether I’d fed the dog. So I fed him – again?
He ate hungrily, or maybe it was all an act, because Momma not being able to remember things wasn’t his problem…
Momma has dementiaaaaa!