Mama’s Visit

I woke up this morning, rolled out of bed and headed downstairs to — no one. My husband had left for work and for the past week my mother would be downstairs waiting for me to start the coffee pot. But she and my two aunts left recently. The house sounds empty.

The visit went very well in spite of my concerns that I couldn’t entertain three elderly women but it was a lot easier than I thought.

Mornings started off sitting around the table drinking coffee. One aunt slept upstairs so when she came down she was already dressed since she didn’t want to go up and down the stairs. The rest of us sat around in our pajamas or whatever we came out in. After coffee, my mother and one aunt took showers while I prepared breakfast.

These “elderly” women don’t normally eat much for breakfast so I would prepare a fried egg, toast and juice. Sometimes I would make breakfast links or add some sliced cheese to the mix but for the most part, keeping it simple was the best plan.

After everyone had eaten we would sit and watch The Price Is Right. It started at 10:00 in the morning. I don’t know of three other women who can have so much fun watching this show. They would guess the price of each item, comment on why the players bet so high or so low, and act as if they had won the prizes themselves. So much enjoyment of this game.

Afterwards we would head out to shop (although one aunt insisted she didn’t like to shop) or visit a local attraction. We went to Aamodt’s Apple Farm in Stillwater, the Sea Life Aquarium at the Mall of America, walked the Mall of America (most of it) and even headed to the Treasure Island Casino in Welch, Minnesota.  This is the first time I’d been to an actual casino (besides walking through them on cruise ships).

It was a little disheartening to watch all these (mainly) elderly people sit at slot machines, add money and push a button hoping to win at a game. It seemed quite boring and a waste of time (not to mention money) to me but my aunts wanted to go so my husband and I agreed to drive them. And my mother, while not a particularly gambling person, played also. We had two winners in the group: my aunt won $580 and my mother won $160.

Even with people winning, I still felt the sense that most people were getting ripped off.

Our trips to the local stores like Cub and Big Lots were eye openers to me. All three women took shopping carts but not because they were going to put anything in them. All three needed the shopping carts to help balance them as they walked.

I hadn’t realized how fragile my mother is until she came to visit. She uses a cane almost all the time now. For most of the visit she had mouth pain because her lower dentures weren’t attaching to her gums properly.

Growing old is not for the faint of heart. It requires dependence on other people when independence is what one has known all their lives. My mama and aunts are no different. They do the best they can with arthritic knees, emphysema, asthma, high cholesterol, blood pressure problems and don’t want to ask for help as everyone is “busy.” What I explained to one of my aunts is that because everyone is busy they sometimes don’t realize the needs of those around them yet they would stop and help if asked.

I was sad to see them leave as they are so full of life and laughter. I will always cherish the stories they shared about their lives (and my own life when I was younger).

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