Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #50
Where Mama was the happiest… piddling in her gardens
March 17, 2019: While watching Hoarders and talking to mama…. “Your daddy used to tell me about some of the houses he went in when collecting weekly life insurance premium money. He didn’t like staying long… as you never know what’s really in some peoples houses. When I worked at the beauty shop, we turned people away who were dirty… many were local people. No one wanted to even touch them.” I told mama it’s Ella’s 9th birthday today… “I can’t believe she’s 9, I’m getting old way too fast!”
March 31, 2019: As I watched Meerkat Manor, mama said… “I wonder if you could tame one of them, they’re so cute. Willie Mae’s grandmother, Grandma Johnson, had a pet squirrel… he lived in the attic. He didn’t even run away from us when we went up to see him. I remember him coming down the stairs and she’d give him food… then he’d go back up stairs. I don’t remember if I ever petted him or not.”
I haven’t recorded many conversations this past year… mainly because my mother’s mind and health is not the greatest… although sometimes I think she’s more healthy than me… she just forgets from minute to minute and often my phone calls don’t go well, or even last long. She continues to live alone, and will be celebrating her 90th Birthday on April 6th… although when I tell her she’s going to be 90, she gets a little testy, quickly telling me… “No” I’m not! So maybe I’ll just start telling her she’s turning maybe 80 and see where that gets me. She doesn’t believe that she is old… yea sometimes I have to tell that to myself too… wondering where my years have gone. She still talks to me like I’m the child… and I keep telling her that I don’t listen well anymore… and she tells me I never listened!
Feb. 4, 2020: We took an unexpected trip to see mama, as we were just there in early December of 2019. She doesn’t live just around the corner from me… it’s almost a 1000 mile trip one-way. But with her constantly telling me she didn’t feel well, we packed up and drove. It pretty much was a wasted trip, but only relying on her telling me how she felt… I just didn’t really know.
March 21, 2020: As mama’s TV is on “All” the time… she constantly listens about the virus pandemic, so it makes her remember it… she will call me during the day just to ask “is everything ok up there?” After telling her we are all ok and safe… she’ll say, “I’m tough as a ladder knot, guess I got that expression from my daddy, as he was as tough as a “ladder knot”… I only wish I was as tough as him! Everyone was afraid of him, they’d say, “you better not mess with Mr. Ed.” (Mama has always talked more about her father than her mother… she was daddy’s girl and spent most of her day following him around the farm and watching him plow. She’d say she didn’t like to stay with mama as she’d put her to work filling the many water buckets on the back porch or sweep the house… mama didn’t like housework.)
Mama says… “All you see on TV today is people wearing masks… I’m tired of seeing them do things wearing a mask!”
After mama moved back to her father’s farm… she always said that his ghost was still there… she’d hear him walking around at night… thumping his cane. Sometimes she would find his favorite rocking chair, just rocking for no reason. It didn’t make her scared… she felt safer feeling he was still there. Even today she’ll mention that Mr. Ed is still walking around on the farm… he loved that farm and his spirit will never leave it. I don’t dare tell the new owners that… but if he’s there… he’d never harm, only protect them.
Mama never does housework anymore… and while it’s a problem for me… she could care less! Whenever I mention that I’d like to get someone to come in at least once a week to vacuum and pick up… that’s when the fight starts, and the conversation quickly goes down the tube… you can’t argue with someone who is dementia challenged… but I keep forgetting. She knows enough to tell me that it’s her house… and her rules! I give up quietly… although sometimes I don’t… but to get off the phone, I’ll say, I have to go make a cup of coffee. I think she knows that I use that excuse way too often! Maybe I should start saying, I’m going to have a glass of wine… she’ll probably tell me to have one for her!
May 20, 2020: I asked mama tonight, “what did you eat today, or what would you like to eat?” “If I could have one thing, I’d like to put my feet under my mama’s table one more time and eat her cooking and have one of her biscuits.” I said, “well if I could put my feet under my mama’s table, so would you cook for me?” “I don’t know if I could still cook anymore… why what would you want?” “I’d like some fried chicken and a biscuit maybe.” “Well I might could, but it’s been a long time since I made a biscuit, but I guess I could make at it… they might be passable.”
June 2020: I made another unexpected trip to check on mom in early June… didn’t really want to travel during this pandemic, but felt it was needed. And as usual, I didn’t accomplish much in dealing with her… she still insists on living alone… still saying, “I’m a tough old bird.” Yes she is… and a stubborn and difficult one at best! She has made it clear through her life that she wanted to remain in her home with Boo… her cat. Everyone knows Boo… and whenever she ends up in the ER, she talks about how she has to hurry back home to be with Boo!
The past few months haven’t been talkative phone calls and often what’s said… isn’t writable; she goes through mean stages with me and conversations don’t go well. By the time I hang up, I’m exhausted… and in no mood to even try to write my feelings about our phone conversations. I think she becomes mean spirited and brain fogged from lack of sleep… the woman just doesn’t sleep! On my last trip there I installed cameras throughout the house so I can check in on her… it certainly has helped. One minute I’ll see her roll over and think… oh boy, I have a few peaceful hours of no constant phone calls… and within five minutes, she’s up and the phone calls start. There are days when my phone rings almost two hundred times. Months ago I turned my phone to silent after the many daily phone calls began… even today its still on silent, but always by my side. I can’t really tolerate to even hear a phone ring… although I do laugh at hubby’s phone ringtone… it’s barking dogs… but his phone hardly ever rings!
July 19, 2020: After mama finally slept for much needed hours today, I was able to have a somewhat normal conversation… sleep desperately needed. When she began saying she was bored, I said… “want me to send you some knitting needles?”... “Hell NO… I could still knit, but I don’t know if I could follow a pattern, but I can knit.”
To keep the conversation going smooth, I asked, “was it this hot when you were a girl” “It wasn’t hot back then like it is today. Daddy wouldn’t have been able to plow in this heat. It was hot, but never like it is today. We had no air conditioning, no ceiling fans… and I don’t even remember having a fan of any sort, but we were comfortable. All I remember is a paper fan. We’d sit on the front porch in the evening to cool off. Boo’s laying on the floor now, at the foot of my bed dead asleep… he really looks dead. Guess the heat has gotten to him too.”
“Our yard dogs, Smoker and Bill, slept up under the house when it was hot… laying on the cool earth. They’d sleep mostly during the day unless daddy came out in the yard… then they’d come running out… thinking daddy was going fox hunting. They’d head to the truck and jump in the back… they wanted to go hunting!”
“There’s no life today like there was back when I was a girl. Mother spent her days cooking and cleaning, but family always got together on weekends… today there’s no family. I have no immediate family nearby now as you are so far away.”
“Daddy always had a yard full of animals with his fox hounds… the cats there were only to keep the mice away. I just have an old black cat named Boo… but he loves me and I love him… he’s my company. Right now he’s on the floor curled up around his food bag.” (Mama gets lots of exercise every day in looking for Boo… as whenever he’s out of her eyesight she hunts the house over looking for him. If I look in on the camera and see her looking behind the chairs and under the bed, I know she’s on the hunt for Boo. That cat has more hiding places than imaginable… and he’s hard to find! I keep telling her that she needs to hunt with a flashlight, but she lays them down and then that’s the end of them… after she’s exhausted her hunt, she calls to tell me that her Boo is gone! It’s usually not much later before I see Boo trailing behind her as she’s hunting for him… then she turns around and picks him up and takes him to bed. Boo is happy when she pets him… that long black tail just thumps away on the bed.)
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