Standing On A Chair

Telling it like I see it…

Rants from the Chair: On Moving in with Mother – Episode One: The Dishwasher Issue

Back in February of 2005, I did what I had always said I would do:  take care of my mother when she reached her befuddled dotage.

At that time, she had just had a horrible experience in the hospital, where they pumped her full of morphine after a small procedure, which rendered her temporarily psychotic.  Staff had not warned me of the effects of morphine on octogenarian.  Her behavior freaked me out to the point where I figured it was time to move in with her.  Also, I figured we would both benefit by my paying her rent instead of paying my current landlord.  She’d get some financial assistance, and I would pay less per month than what I was used to paying.

Sounds like a win-win, doesn’t it?

Think again.

What first comes to mind is what I call “The Dishwasher Issue,” which really doesn’t cover all of what the thing entails.  I think it actually was born out of her monitoring my intake of food.

Imagine being in your mid-fifties, and suddenly you find your mother questioning what you’ve eaten that day, and more importantly, what time you ate whatever you’ve eaten that day.  This kind of thing can shock the hell out of you, especially given that you’ve been an adult on your own since age nineteen.

One Sunday I was awakened from a nap at 4:00 p.m. by my mother, who stood over me beside my bed and said, “Dinner’s ready.”

Scene 1

Me:      (still asleep) Gmmftph?

Mom:    I made tongue.  And macaroni and cheese.

Me:      (now semi awake) I’m not hungry yet, Mom.  It’s too early.  I’ll eat later.

Mom:    You haven’t eaten anything all day.

Me:        (now sitting up) I ate a tuna sandwich before my nap, Mom.  You sat   there and watched me do it.

Mom:    You did?

Me:      You’re monitoring my eating schedule again, Mother. 

Mom:    Well I need to get dinner out-of-the-way, so it’s ready now.

Me:      I told you not to feel like you have to cook for me all the time, just because I live here, Mom.

Mom:    (irritated) Dinner is getting cold.

I ended up eating with her at 4:00, which was not only regrettable because her cooking skills had profoundly deteriorated, but because apparently she’d been in such a hurry “to get it over with,” she hadn’t cooked the food long enough, so this grotesque, half-raw cow’s tongue, in it’s entirety with throat guts attached, bled all over the plate and sullied the mac and cheese.  I couldn’t eat any of it.  Besides, I totally hate tongue.

After shoving the shit around my plate for half an hour, I volunteered to clean up the kitchen.

Mom:    Run the dishwasher tonight, Jill.

Me:      But Mom, there are only three pieces in their right now.  And I’ll only have a few pieces to add to that.  I’ll wait until it’s full.

Mom:    No!  I want it run tonight!

She went to bed early, as usual, and God help me I didn’t run the dishwasher.

Scene 2 – The Next Morning

Mom:    I saw the note you left me by the dishwasher last night, Jill.

Me:      Good.  I’ll run the thing when it’s full.  I’m trying to save some energy here, Mom.  You keep the heat jacked up to 85, for God’s sake.  You are GRU’s best freaking friend.

She stomped away mad as hell. 

Scene 3 – That Evening

My mother went to bed at 7:00 p.m., only to arise unexpectedly at around 9:30 p.m.

Me:      (watching television) Hey Mom.  What are you doing out of bed?

Mom:    (standing ramrod straight with fists on hips) I want to know if you’ve eaten your dinner yet.

Me:      (seriously pissed off) Yes, I have, Mother, but just why is it any of your concern whether or not I’ve eaten dinner?

Mom:    BECAUSE I WANT YOU TO RUN THE GODDAMN DISHWASHER!!!

So I ran the goddamn dishwasher.

* * * * *

I have a file three inches thick of notes on conversations and altercations during my almost five years of living with my dear mother.  I’ll introduce them here and there, whenever the mood strikes.

But for now, it’s about celebrating.

Because she turns 91 next Monday.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

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February 14, 2012 - Posted by | Family Life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. Jilly, you should have sent her to live with us, we don’t have a dishwasher. Love & happy Valentines Day. Missy

    Comment by missy smith | February 14, 2012 | Reply

  2. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, to Troy Searcy Tibbs. Give her a hug from someone who remembers when she was the best cook EVER ! I still have, and USE recipes from her. xoxoxo

    Comment by Luanne Fickett | February 14, 2012 | Reply

  3. Jill, you know I TOTALLY understand this! Maybe I should start writing some of this stuff down.
    Hope your Mom has a great birthday!

    Comment by Linda Wines Stokes | February 14, 2012 | Reply

  4. What a dear weet woman she is, Jill. Still has that great rye sense of humor,

    Comment by Geri Wright | February 15, 2012 | Reply


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