Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Home

Today I drove to church—as old ladies are wont to do on Sundays—then drove to visit my mother at THE HOME. I waxed a table for my mother, rearranged her potted plants, and moved her Easter décor into her storage locker. I passed up the chance to eat dinner with my mother in THE HOME’s dining room—roast chicken because it’s Sunday, over-cooked yellow squash, and apple brown Betty on the menu. I passed up the dining room with the bright lights, walker parking area, and peppermints in a bowl at the reception desk in order to come home and share a can of tuna with my cat. This is all true, except I made up the apple brown Betty part. I don’t remember what the dessert choices were.

By virtue of my age, I am now eligible to move into THE HOME. Two of my dearest, oldest friends were at my house for a visit last week and we were discussing what we plan to do when we get older and need to move into some sort of supported living environment. They think it’s a good idea for all of us to live in THE HOME together. All I could think about was the place where my mother lives. And I’m thinking about euthanasia—not for my mother but for myself. Just shoot me.

My mother lives in a very, very nice place. I hate the carpet in the hallways, I hate the way it smells, I hate the draperies and the cheery people who work there. I especially hate the storage cubes in the dungeon where people store all of their African masks and ugly artwork and luggage and family photos in chicken-wire cages for all the world to see. I’ve spent many an hour with my sister in that dungeon, sitting on the concrete floor rearranging my mother’s stored possessions. Her crockpot is in there because she never uses it. She has plastic bins full of Halloween, Easter, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas decorations. She has plastic bins full of décor pillows. (My mother has a pillow fetish.) All the framed photos of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are in that cage. It’s life reduced to what fits in a storage cage.

I keep thinking about Little Edie, living with Big Edie in the crumbling old house in East Hampton—Little Edie with her scarves and her swimsuits, dancing and feeding Wonder Bread to the raccoons that lived in her attic. Little Edie may have been totally wacko but at least she was doing what she wanted and she lived on her own eccentric terms, not in a dormitory full of old people.

Lord, I have just one humble prayer. Please let me die with my boots on. Please don’t let me drool and don’t let people feed me over-cooked vegetables from a plastic tray. Please don’t force me to have wall-to-wall carpeting. The carpeting alone will kill me. Please don’t let them put me in THE HOME with the old people.

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