Before I begin with my tale of geriatric insanity I would like to mention that I, myself, am becoming an old person more rapidly than I care to admit. Because of this, I do not talk about the elderly without the knowledge that I am just one raspy, sour, prune-juice scented breath away from being a geezer myself.
I say "oy" a lot now, especially when I'm getting up and down off the couch. I think a lot of music is just too damned loud, and I can no longer eat spicy food without a Haz-mat team to follow me around the next day.
These days, I would rather go to bed early than late and think sleeping in is not getting out of bed until 8 a.m. I sometimes can't remember my own phone number. I have been known to stand in line to take a free blood pressure reading at the pharmacy in the grocery store. I own more ointments than I have ever owned before - and all of them make me smell funny.
I am not proud of this. Yet I can't control this, either. Time marches on, and my bladder control marches with it. So I understand that my mother, who is 76, probably can't help what's happening to her either. Yet that knowledge makes it no less frustrating.
I told you about how my mom has slowly over the years lost her gift-giving ability. But she has also grown increasingly paranoid, certain that any news report she hears on TV will also happen to her, no matter how much I assure her she won't be sold into a sex slave ring or be recruited as a suicide bomber.
She is also becoming more and more forgetful. In one 20 minute phone conversation with my mom, I can hear the same story 6 times because she will continue to forget she just told it. Actually, that's not true. She *IS* forgetful, but it takes her so freakin' long to tell a story, you may not hear the hole thing in 20 minutes because she goes on so many tangents you can't even remember what the original point of the story WAS.
Last night, she called and left a message on my voice mail ordering me to call her "tonight or tomorrow morning at the very latest." My mom never does this - rarely even leaves a message because she doesn't trust these new fangled machines.
So of course I thought something bad had happened, and immediately called her back.
"I can't talk right now, I'm on the other line. I'll call back," a harried mom voice told me just before she hung up.
This made me more nervous. I didn't even know my mom had call waiting - let alone used it. What was happening? And who could be more important to talk to then ME?
For the next 40 minutes I worried. I thought maybe she was sick, or that someone had died, or someone had been arrested (not an uncommon occurrence in my family.) Then, finally, she called back.
"What's wrong?" I answered.
"But mom, you told me you needed to talk right away ... I thought something important had happened. I was worried."
"Well it was important, but it wasn't an emergency, or I would have said so. Well it was kind of important. Important to me, anyway. I don't know if you would find it important. It is kind of medium important, I guess. You may even call it urgent, but not critical, you know? ... "
"JUST TELL ME MOM!" The blood vessels in my forehead were bursting.
"Well I would have told you earlier, but you didn't answer your phone. Why was that? Then when you called me back I was on the phone with Judy ... you remember Judy? She taught school with me. Her son just got married you know ... a lovely girl I guess. The wedding was in January. Their colors were blue and yellow ..."
"MOM," I said, pronouncing the word like it had 12 syllables. "Why did you call? What did you need to talk to me about right away?"
"Oh yah ... well it turns out I got a letter from the Canadian government ... I forget the name of the department ... starts with an "S" I think ... maybe an "R" ... could be a "G" ... anyway ... how long has it been since you visited Canada? ... we need to take a trip sometime I think. If they let us cross the border. I saw on the news they are shooting people who try to cross now ... you know, in case they are terrorists."
"Moooooooooommmmmmmmm!" I was trying to remember to breathe, and not tell the woman who gave birth to me to get to the fucking point. "The letter ... what did the letter say?"
"Be patient dear ... you are always in such a hurry. You need to slow down or you'll get heart burn. I was just telling Judy the same thing. I was on the phone with her when you called me the first time. Her son just got married you know ... to a lovely girl. The wedding was in January ...."
"Mom ... " Could you get a brain aneurysm from talking to your mother, I wondered?
"Okay, okay ... the letter said I was eligible for retirement benefits from Canada since we used to live there. Remember the house on Buck Street? I loved that house. The carpet we put in was such a nice shade, don't you think? It was the same blue that Judy's son had in his wedding. Did I tell you her son got married?"
"Yes, mom, to a lovely girl. So what else did the letter say?" I was concerned that it may be dawn before I got any information from her.
"Are you trying to rush me off the phone, young lady? Your own mother? I was in labor with you for 36 hours, and you can't make time to help me? That's just rude."
"Sorry, mom. I didn't mean to. What did you want to tell me?"
"Well, the letter also had some forms for me to fill out and one of them asked me what the exact date was we immigrated to Canada."
<crickets> I did not realize this was the vital information she called me about.
"I don't have all night dear," my mom finally said, breaking the silence. "What date was it?"
"Mom, I was 4 when we immigrated to Canada. How the hell do you expect me to remember that?"
"You were 6. You really should try to remember these things better. Don't you have paperwork?"
"Paperwork? Mom, I was 6! I didn't have paperwork! I had a Barbie dream van!"
"I just need the day. I know it was in June of 1975. You don't know the day?"
"Mom ... it was 33 years ago. I don't even remember what I had for breakfast this morning."
"You should really get checked for that, dear. You could have brain cancer. You know Gladys Moore? Who goes to church with me? Her sister got brain cancer. Now she can't talk. Drools on herself all the time, the poor dear. Are you drooling on yourself?"
"Mom ..." I did my best to ignore the drooling question. "If you know the month and year, just make up a day on the form, they won't know any better."
"I raised you better than that! I can't lie to the government! They will arrest me! Do you want me to go to jail!?"
"They aren't going to send a herd of Canadian Mounties down to Washington state to arrest a 76-year-old woman for not getting the date on a form exactly right, mom."
"Yes they will! I saw it on TV once! They take that seriously! And you should too! I don't want to have to call the family and tell them you are in jail again. So, you don't remember the exact date? You don't have any paperwork?"
"No, mom. I was obviously an irresponsible 6-year-old for not keeping a file."
"You are no help at all. I don't even know why I called you. Oh, but while I have you on the phone, I did want to tell you that Judy's son got married. To a lovely girl."
"That's great mom. I'm sorry I couldn't help you with the form."
"I'm sorry too, dear. Don't forget to go to the doctor for that brain scan. Drooling is very unattractive. Bye!"
I've seen my future. And it scares the shit out of me.