pure unadulterated joy: 2

(The second in a series about my mother)

The emergency room doctors and nurses were kind and concerned in dealing with Joy’s eight day-no poop issue. Some scans were conducted looking for intestinal blockages. When those came back negative, we were sent home but Mom continued to complain of intense back pain. She was having great difficulty walking around her small apartment.

It’s the tumor! Where is the freakin’ hiding tumor?

I was the Nancy Drew of tumors after Mom’s last lung cancer surgery. Isn’t lung cancer one of the most metastasizing cancers? Doesn’t it show up in your brain or your bones…or somewhere? Her beloved brother had died of cancer some years earlier.

The cause of her reoccurring bladder infections? A tumor. Frequent lung and breathing difficulties? More tumors. The cause of her recent back pain? A giant tumor in her spine. How many people do you know who’ve survived lung cancer surgery and who have NOT had a recurrence somewhere else? That’s a highly exclusive club, for sure.

Mainly I was convinced I would again come face to face with another cancerous tumor, because….you see (cringe)…..Joy still smoked. Yes, I know it shattered every retirement home rule. She was gonna light the place up like the 4th of July, smoking while she was on oxygen 24/7! Her smoking felt like death by a thousand cuts to me.

Mom, is grandma smoking? Her apartment smells like cigarettes!

On our weekly Walmart forays, she bought air freshener by the case. I upchuck at the cloying fragrance of lavender clinging over menthol Kool smoke. When did she smoke? How was she not discovered by the retirement home police? Did she think I was an idiot? (you don’t have to answer that one!)

One day the Sprout visited her grandma with me, and she remarked the bathroom smelled smoky. I donned my sleuth hat and entered the bathroom. I opened her shower and the intense odor assaulted me like a smoky bandit. Dammit! She’s smoking in the shower with the shower vent on! I was too upset to do any yelling or pleading that day. I returned the next day and talked with her…too loudly, like always.

Mom…they’re gonna throw you out of the home! Then, where will you go? You can’t live with me….you’ll be a homeless, old deaf woman on oxygen meandering the streets looking for a handout! Please don’t do this…I’ll get you chewing tobacco, more nicorette….anything.

Never knew for sure how she obtained the cigs. She couldn’t drive, so I suspect she bribed a more able-bodied oldster to secure them for her. Maybe some sinister resident who took the bus to the supermarket every Wednesday? Perhaps she bartered with Dulcolax or Poligrip…who the hell knew?

Don’t remember having another conversation on this topic, however I do recall searching her apartment while she was at bridge group. (Sick, I realize. Don’t judge.) Found the pack of cancer sticks concealed in a box stashed in the way back of her desk drawer. I took them out. Don’t know if she smoked ever again, but her large purchases of Glade morphed into grand purchases of Nicorette gum.

For now, Joy was in pain and couldn’t care for herself. Me? Nancy Drew was preparing for battle with the phantom tumor.

proud ‘person of walmarts’

It was our familiar ritual for six years.

Mom and I trekked to walmarts weekly to fetch supplies. It would have been easier for me to do her shopping for her, but how much fun is that? Picking her up at the home, assisting her to the car, driving to walmarts, and situating her old bod in the zippy electric cart was the stuff of Joy legend.

It irritated Joy that the elderly advanced-aged greeter liked me. She thought his crush was unbecoming and she expressed her displeasure.

What am I supposed to do, Mom? Run from the old guy? My hugs make his day! You’re just jealous!

She would’ve LOST it had she known he stalked me while I was shopping and plied me with free candy. Texan, are you reading this?? 

I offered to help her shop. She replied she didn’t require my assistance. After she laid a tire track up the back of my skinny ankle, I was ecstatic for her independent spirit! More time for me to hang out on the ammo aisle. I was always ready to hear the announcement…..

Attention walmart choppers, because of an unfortunate motorized cart incident, we will no longer have fresh eggs available for sale today. Would the daughter of Joy please report to the security office?
****slinking out of the store****

As her world grew smaller, the forays to walmarts became more important.  It was one place she could have independence. She’d gleefully drive where she damn-well pleased in her motorized cadillac.

Sometimes I’d catch a glimpse of her in the aisles….I swear the woman touched each blessed item in the store! She’d buy everything from nicotine gum to brassieres, sugar-free yogurt to micro-fiber panties. She desired the best deal and she’d study the advertised discounts. Stopped counting the number of times she carefully checked her receipt and we had to go back to customer service for the $.50 or $1.00 they’d stiffed her.

The last time this occurred, I bribed her with $2.00 cash if we could just let it go and go home and put our groceries away. She was unamused and muttered I hadn’t learned the real value of a dollar. 

It usually required Joy about 1 1/2 hours to complete her basic shopping. The time she wanted to purchase a digital camera and a photo printer required a little longer.

What are you wanting a digital camera for, Mom?

I want to take pictures of my friends (at the home). I want to print pictures of them so I can remember what they looked like. (This was after a couple of her bestest girlfriend bridge buddies passed on)

The 83 year-old woman was a picture-snapping demon for weeks on end. She took pictures of all the residents, the office help, the girls in the cafeteria, and the maintenance workers. All photos were taken ‘down-low’…wheelchair perspective only. The photos were odd…always looking up at the subject, but she was proud of them.  On special occasions, she would frame them and give them to the person as a gift.

I went to walmarts by myself this week. Didn’t see my greeter boyfriend…must’ve been his day off. I got my shopping done….quickly….efficiently. Home in a snap. Sigh.

Check out this website and chuckle

Can you spot Joy and me?

Discount shopping love to all.