Sunday, April 17, 2016

Not quite a disaster

We decide to try to get Mother out of the house.  She has the gas logs blazing and it's probably 85 degrees in the room. It is a lovely sunny day in April in Meridian, Mississippi, and we convince her to go for a ride. Mother has a former student who has built a yoga center/spa/massage facility out in the country. Several of the student's siblings have houses around the land, so Mother is agreeable to go. It's clear she's making an effort; she's showered, she has put on the blouse Kathy bought her for early Mothers' Day, and she seems to be sober.

We think it's good for her to get out. It's been a long time since she went anywhere except to the liquor store or to Waffle House, and she ran into that with her car, which is one reason we're here. So we hope this will be a nice little outing. We think the isolation is making her condition only worse.

I know Mother has difficulty walking, so I stay close as we go from the front porch to the car. She's a little shaky, but she puts her hand on the back of my neck and balances lightly as she traverses the short distance. We get in the car. Mother says all she knows is that it is south.

Me: Down 45 south, like you're going to the coast?
Mother: No, not down 45. Just south.
We figure out that Jenna's place is somewhere near Lakeview Golf Course, so Kathy puts Lakeiew Golf Course in the GPS and it tells us to go down 19 South toward Butler, Alabama.
"That's not right," Mother says. Kathy listens to Siri.
"This is not the way."
"No, Mother, but it's a way. If you see anything that rings a bell, just tell me and I'll go that way."
We head down Highway 19 South anyway, which would take us to Butler, Alabama, if we kept going, but the GPS tells us to turn right on Log Creek Road.
"We're going to end up in Alabama," Mother says.
Kathy: Well, we're going to turn on Log Creek Road before we get there. Mother, you ought to come back to Atlanta with me. Now that tax season is over, Wesley's going to bring Channing out to see the house, and Andrew will be bringing Allison, whom I've never met."'
"Well, I have business I have to attend to. I have to pay my land taxes."
"You have to pay them? Well, Top could help you." (Top, Kathy's husband, is a CPA, specializing in corporate taxes).
"I have to pay them, and I have to talk to somebody about them."
"I know the bosy would love to see you."
No reply. We pass the golf course. 
Kathy: "This is a pretty road."
Mother: "We came the long way."
Kathy: "So Jenna's place is on down this road?"
Mother: "I know we go past the golf course."
We come to the end of the road. No Jenna's place.
Kathy: "So we should have passed it?"
Mother: "That was if we came the other way."
Kathy: "It's on the other side of the golf course?"
Kathy: "I'm going to go up here and turn around."
Mother: "No!"
Kathy: "But if it's on the same road..."
Mother: "I keep telling y'all I don't remember."
Kathy: "I'll turn around."
Mother: "No." So Kathy turns right. We see a property with rolling green hills, some newly constructed outbuildings, and a pasture.
Kathy: "I bet that's it."
Mother: "I wonder who lives on the Kimbrell farm now. That's Berry Ward's driveway, him and his wife."
We see a sign that says "Doc and Miss Hattie."
Mother: "They had a pasture and some horses."
Kathy keeps driving. We see another property with a closed gate.
Mother: "I don't believe we can get in."
Kathy: "I wouldn't drive down somebody's driveway; I just wanted to see it."
Mother: "Well, you can't."
We keep driving and pass an old white house with a white barn.
Kathy: "I love white barns. Whose house is that, do you know?"
Mother: "It's the Carney house."
Kathy: "Who are the Carneys?"
Mother: "I don't know how to tell you who they are."
Kathy wants to take a picture of the barn, so she pulls over and gets out. When she gets back in, she asks Mother, "Do you want me to turn around and go back to find Jenna's?"
Mother: "That's way out of the way."
Kathy: "I wonder how we missed it."
Mother: "We went the wrong way."
Kathy: "I'll go back."
Mother: "No!"
Kathy" "Why, if we missed it?"
Mother: "We went the wrong way. It was up there by the lakes. Just keep going." Kathy drives.
Kathy: "Mother, are you hungry?"
Mother: "No. I could eat."
We come out on a highway. It's 45 South.
Mother: "This is the way we should have come. Out 45 South and turn here."
We drive, back into town.
Kathy: "Mother, have you got a taste for anything?"
Mother: "No."
Now we are in the center of old Meridian, where I used to live, where my twins were born, and near the 1929 cottage that was my first house, and a block from where my best Meridian friend still lives.

Me: "Can we go down Poplar Springs Drive to see all the dogwoods?"
Kathy: "Would you like to go by your old house?"
Me: "Yes. That way I can see what's blooming in Jimmy's yard, too." We come to the fork where you go left to Poplar Springs Drive, right to drive down 24th Avenue past my old house and Jimmy's.

Mother: "You need to turn here if you're going down Poplar Springs Drive."
Kathy: "I know, but I was going to go this way to let Lee Ann see her old house."
We drive past my old house and Jimmy's house and turn right.
Mother: "Why are you going this way?"
Kathy: "I want to drive down Poplar Springs Drive for Lee Ann, but I wanted to start at the beginning."
Mother doesn't say anything, but it is clear she is irritated. I can tell by the set of her shoulders.

Kathy: "Can we pick up anything for you to eat later?"
Mother: "I'll let you know."
Kathy: "Would you like for us to pick you up something from that place you usually go in Broadmoor?"
Mother: "You can't, it's closed. You can't get anything today except fast food and McAlister's."
Kathy: "Would you like us to get you something from McAlister's?"
Mother: "I'll let you know later."
Kathy: "Well, we'll be happy to take you anywhere that's open to get you something."
Mother: "We'll see."
We get to Mother's house. Mother hands me the keys and tells me to go around back and unlock the door.  I go.

Kathy goes around around to the passenger side to help Mother get out of the car. Mother pulls herself up and grabs Kathy's hand, which hurts all the time from arthritis. Mother knows this. She clutches Kathy's hand with every  bit of strength she has. Kathy tells me later she did make sure Mother wasn't going to fall, but then she had to wrench her hand away. She says she thought she might pass out from the pain. She takes a whole lot of Ibuprofen on the way back to Atlanta.

When we get inside, Kathy notices an old oil painting Mother has left out in the carport. It is almost ruined and Kathy offers to have it restored for her. Mother says she doesn't want the painting. Kathy says, "Well, why don't I have it restored at my own expense and hang it in my house till you want it?" I know this is never happening, and sure enough, Mother ignores the question. The damaged painting stays leaned up against the wall.

Then Mother offers to let me dig up some of the white iris I admired. I get a spoon out of the sink and go out back, and I get enough in case Kathy wants some, too. We leave. I think the visit went pretty well, except for Mother's gripping Kathy's hand so hard. I'd really really like to give her the benefit of the doubt, but I think she did it on purpose. It's probably best to take the iris, leave the painting, and call "not a disaster" a success. .

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