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Another Adventure with my mom

July 7, 2013

My 88 year old mother fractured her upper right arm a couple of weeks ago. She was outside gardening and somehow took a step that wasn’t there and tumbled. She has her arm in sling but it is like your ribs – nothing you can do except let it heal.

Mom and Me June 2013

Mom and Me June 2013

Between her church and the Master Gardeners she has fostered a large community of people that  look out for her, but sometimes just having family help is a good thing. No one but family will sit and watch old Perry Mason episodes with you.

I took a couple of days off work and drive 500 miles south to her place in southern Oregon. I was there a month ago but in that month I have deleted sugar, dairy, eggs, and gluten from my diet. So I brought my food and my running shoes because I needed to get a 10 mile run while I was there. And I thought I brought an abundance of patience, but the list about did me in!

Mom had a list for me. The to-do list. Now she always has a list for me and I expect it. My list has things on it she has figured out I can do, like fix her computer, get her on Skype, or take her to Costco. She has lists for her other daughters they can do, like one of my sisters fixes the plumbing and makes quilts out of my mom’s embroidery. Another takes her to plays and nice restaurants. Mom has it worked out.

But this time her list included gardening and recycling. Mom is a Depression baby. She saves everything, and I mean everything,  including the kitchen sink which is stored in the garage. And her friends ‘help’ by giving her their recycleables and all the plants and bulbs left over from every plant sale. Pots of various shapes with plants in equally various conditions are stacked three deep in her back yard, waiting to be rescued or die.

She has 50 dried and dessicated  iris plants and ten bags of equally dried up bulbs she wants me to plant. Normal people like me would just chuck the whole bunch. But not my mom, the Depression baby.  I don’t say anything as, per her directions (because they can be resuscitated by water, I guess),  I fill a tin tub with water to soak the iris – I am determined to enjoy the time with my mom, no matter what we are doing. While the iris are soaking I open the bulb bags and she goes through them, pinching and tossing and saving. Only a few are deemed worthy to plant, but the rest I am to bury with the rest of the compost (oh, Mom does compost, too, with coffee cans full of … well, stuff that is on its way to compost. Did I tell you I brought a bunch of latex gloves with me?)

She sits in a chair and directs me to plant the iris.  I bend over and set the iris in the dirt and cover the roots  and I can hear her start to mutter. “Okay, Mom, I am planting the bulb, what is the matter?”

She tells me it is a rhizome, not a bulb, and she wants them in a certain place and I am not putting them in the right place.  She points with her cane to a spot in the dirt and I move the RHIZOME and she shakes her head and rises out of her chair and plants her cane in the dirt and says, “Here.”

Oh, there! Two inches to the left from where I thought you wanted them! I get it. I plant all of the poor iris to her satisfaction (well, at least she didn’t say she wasn’t satisfied), add the bulbs, and then move to planting some roses over by the water feature my sister created. Same story, different plants. Her cane is a great pointing tool. I buried the compost, too.

She did comment that she would remember not to ask me to garden again. I told her that if I couldn’t complain, then it was no fun, but I fervently hope she doesn’t put gardening on her list for me again –  or at least warn me so I can really bring the patience!

But I did enjoy watching Perry Mason with her.

  1. Sue Hoppe permalink

    You are a good daughter Cathy!

  2. God, this cracks me up! I could load the dishwasher for my mom, and she would move all the glasses over 1/2 inch! And she never, ever, got rid of anything–same generation! I am almost as bad. You have seen, for instance, that I actually DO have a kitchen sink in my shed. I hope someone has such patience with me when I’m 88 … but I can’t imagine who that would be! The trick, as you implied, is to enjoy these days while you have them 🙂

  3. Shannon permalink

    I wish I didn’t live so far away. I’d like to be on the gardening list.

  4. Cathy, I am howling with laughter – this is too wonderful! And I totally get it about the cane being a great pointing tool :+)
    Much love to you my friend – you are a great daughter!

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