As I entered my mother’s house it was the same as I always remembered it. Everything was neatly arranged as if she were receiving company any minute. Her china doll reclined in the child sized rocker; my dad’s army picture along with the triangle encased flag stood in its place on the dresser; pictures of my brother, sister and I as babies hung on the walls beside those of grandchildren now grown. But this time it was different. My mother was not there; I was not a guest. I was there as an intruder, someone who was going to search through cupboards and drawers, mess up her neatly kept house, and make decisions about her belongings. It wasn’t as if my mother was gone. She was safely away in her assisted living quarters unaware of my deed. I had to keep my feeling of invasion of privacy at bay; this needed to be done.
As I start my sort and begin handling her possessions my mind drifts back to stories behind each one . It is then realize I was not only going to get rid of her treasures, but memories attached to them. Not just hers, but mine as well.
We Told You So
One morning at 9:30 I received an unexpected phone call. It was my mother’s minister. At first I couldn’t understand what he was talking about. Do you want me to break down the door or call 911? He said my mother was inside and couldn’t be reached by phone. She was probably laying on the floor hurt. “Break down the door if you have to,” I told him, “then call 911 if you think she needs help.” I spent an anxious hour before he called back. She had indeed fallen and was laying on the kitchen floor and couldn’t get to the phone. She had lain there all night. A neighbor and fellow church member had stopped by and talked with my mother the night before when she was sitting on the floor and my mother told her she did not need any help. She didn’t want to bother the woman! The next morning when the neighbor got no answer on the phone she alerted the minister.
When he called me back that morning it was from the emergency room. He had carried her out to the car and driven her to the hospital himself. She didn’t seem to be in much pain and he and I concluded that it probably wasn’t anything serious. He volunteered to stay with her until she was released. I considered driving up there, but was reluctant to leave. My pregnant daughter was due to have our grandson induced the next morning. We had volunteered to stay with our two year old granddaughter. It was afternoon when I got the third call. They had taken X-rays and my mother had broken her hip. They were contacting a surgeon and were in the process of obtaining a hospital room for my mother. I felt rather embarrassed that the minister had stayed with her all that time through all the examinations and procedures, but he assured me it was O.K. I then knew I would have to make the drive up to see her. I told him I would be coming and thanked him profusely for his help. I left shortly thereafter and arrived at the hospital early evening. My mother was settled in her room and as I was talking with her the surgeon came in to talk with her. He explained to us exactly where the hip bone was broken and said they had scheduled surgery for the following day. I stayed and visited with my mother that evening and left early the next morning. My brother was driving over from Phoenix to be there for the operation. As it turned out, our daughter was delivering our grandson at the same time my mother was undergoing her operation.
After all the nagging my mother to keep her cell phone charged and repeated pleas for her to get a lifeline emergency system, this was a painful lesson that proved we were right. I wish I could say that my mother changed her ways and listened to our suggestions about her safety, but her strong determination to be independent kept that from happening.