So came chapter 2 of mom’s new adventure.  Living in NYC.  With me.  24 hours a day. 7 days a week.   In the bedroom next door.  Now, I am divorced and have been for more years than I was married.  I have been in some wonderful long term relationships with some very loving and understanding men – because for the last 7 years or so, mom always came first.  I needed to fit them around my life.  Not IN my life, but around it.  Now that mom lived with me, it did not matter I was in my 40’s, it’s MOM.  OK, so we all acclimated.  And lived through the wonderful times,
the tears, the changes, the man who moved from California to be with me and eventually moved in with, as my brother put it “, you, a crazy old lady and a blind, diabetic dog – what the hell is wrong with him!”

He loved me and grew to love a wonderful old lady.  Mom.  And she loved him.  And as she aged, she loved just about everyone.   She loved the waitress in the local Polish restaurant that was the special treat that my brother and his wife would take mom to.  They would walk the two blocks to the restaurant, my mother , all 4’10” of her hanging onto the arm of  my 6’1″ brother, wobbling across the street.  When they arrived at the restaurant, the waitress would serve my mother glass of wine, a special dish the cook would make for mom alone ( no one ever knew what it would be) and a special dessert.  Why this happened we never really knew.  My mother is not Polish. But what she is, what she has, rather had, was a hugely open hearted. She smiled at the waitress and kissed her goodbye every time. Tell her how wonderful the food was.  Try to refuse the dessert brought to her.  Want the waitress to sit with her and have some.  She did this with genuine feeling.  So, it was not embarrassing, but endearing.

When my mom died, the waitress brought flowers and a card to the apartment expressing her sadness.  My mother smiled a big smiled.  She nodded as if she understood you, when she could not hear a word someone said even with her hearing aid ( except when I was with her and had to repeat everything directly into her ear). She would throw kisses at every baby that passed, waved at people who smiles at her.  She was, in a word, happy.  She enjoyed life.  It was all a big adventure to her.  Because she know she was going home, to her little wonderful cocoon , she said, her safe place.

If someone asked her something, her response was, “Mary will take care of it”.  It didn’t matter what it was.  “Mary will do it.”  And I did.  But ever so often, she was just off.  Not herself.  Downright mean.  Nothing was right.  The dinner I cooked was bad.  The meat terrible, cold, underdone.  “I can’t eat this”.  “I don’t like this” .  She would say to me ” Why are you being so nasty?” Lordy…I would yell at her, “It’s not me, it’s you”.  Then she would cry.  And I would cry.  And she would say, “I’m going to tell Charlie” – my brother.   I would go into my room and dissolve into tears.  I am a terrible daughter.  Why did I yell at her?  She can’t help it.  But she is just such a ….a……pain….a….pain….in ….the….ASS SOMETIMES!   Ok.  Breath.

Then the next day was fine.  Except, of course, for the men she watch from our second floor window seat who stood across the street and watched her watching them. They were going to get her one day, maybe shoot her through the window, she said  I  tried to explain to her that what she was looking at was a small bar/restaurant and that the men standing outside were smoking and were really not staring at her.  And she began to ask me what day it was.  Every hour, then it was another question ever 1/2 hour.  Then it was the same question all day.  Then it was “where is the dog”, 10 minutes. Every 10 minutes.  I would answer.  “He’s right here mom”.  Then again, “where is the dog.”  “Right here”.  Where is the dog” “I gave him $5 and he went to get a beer”.  Mom would look at me.  You could see her trying to figure out what I just said and what it meant.

She squinted her eyes and looked at me again and half smiled.  Was this a key, a small victory?  Maybe I could just play with her sometimes.  Not always.  Just once in a while.  And she got it.  She answered me back.  “My mother would say, Don’t make a jack ass out of me”.  And we would laugh and the dog would jump on the couch.


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