Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chicken & Dumplings with a Side of Turnip Greens

On Tuesday, I cleared up my calendar so that I could take my little 84-year-old mother to get a pedicure.  She was long overdue.  This is how a simple errand "goes down" when you're dealing with my mother.

Phone call to Mom
Me:  Hey!  Would you like to go for that pedicure today?
Mom [delighted]:  Ohhhh, that would be nice!  And, while we're out, I'll treat you to lunch at Cracker Barrel!  [She has had a hankering for Cracker Barrel's chicken & dumplings with a side of turnip greens for about a week.  She wasn't actually treating me to Cracker Barrel as much as she was bribing me to take her.]
Me [gaily despite my general "eh" feeling towards Cracker Barrel]:  That would be fine!
Mom:  Oh, and I could sure use some new jeans from Chico's!  I can't fit into my .5's anymore because I've put on some weight.  (Up to 118 from 114...) Would it be OK if we went there?
(I do the mental math...1 hour pedicure + 1 hour lunch (Mom eats very, very slowly) = 2 hours.  Add in an hour at Chico's...Mamma Mia!  I begin to do some self-talk.  "What on earth is more important than spending quality time with your precious little Mother?" And so on...)
Me [with all the enthusiasm I could muster]:  I'd love to!

I was running that morning, so by the time I picked Mom up it was 11:30.  I ran into her apartment and helped her put on her jacket and gather up her purse.

Me:  Mom, it's already almost lunchtime.  I've mapped out the errands and it's more efficient if we go to Cracker Barrel, then Chico's, then Q Nails.  It will be one big efficient circle.
Mom: Hmm.  ["Hmm" generally preceeds a "differing opinion."]  We could do that.  I guess that would be ok.  But...I would like to go straight to Chico's to try on jeans.
Me:  Are you sure?  Cracker Barrel is almost next door to Raider Ranch!
Mom:  I'm sure!  I don't like to eat right before I try on jeans because it makes my stomach too big.
Me [artificially gaily]:  OK.  We'll go to Chico's and then Q Nails.  We can have a late lunch at Cracker Barrel on the way back to the Ranch.
Mom:  That would be nice.

Right about now, I'm trying to channel my Aunt Wanda's endless patience and sweet demeanor.  Lots of self-talk is going on between my ears as off we go.  I'm already getting a little twitch around my right eye.  I have been to Chico's with Mom many times.  I'm not a big shopper.  My mom is a big, tedious shopper.  She's been known to approach a saleslady saying, "I need a blouse to go with a pair of purple pants I bought here on sale 1/2 price two years ago!  What do you think would look good?" or, simply, "What do you have that you think would look good on me?" or "I'm looking for that necklace that was in your catalog - towards the back - that came out last month.  I think the model was wearing it with something green."

We pulled out of the Ranch "compound" onto Milwaukee heading south.  "Mom, did you remember to bring your $35 off Chico's coupon that you've been saving?"  "I think so.  Let me check my purse."  Dig.  Dig.  Dig.  "I can't see it in here.  It sure would be nice to have it."  "Would you like for me to go back and get it?"  Then, without waiting for her answer because we all know what would be, I hooked a u-turn and headed back to her apartment.  Coupon found.  We were back on Milwaukee again heading south.  The time was now 11:45.

At Chico's, I quickly found a saleslady who could wander around the store answering Mom's many questions.  Mom never seems to believe me when I try to convince her that Chico's jeans have NEVER come in "wide."  They have "short."  They have "regular."  They have "long."  They have never had "wide."  Ever.  Sure enough, after trying on her first pair of jeans in Chico's size 1, she decides that she needs to bump up to a 1 wide.  I chuckled to myself as I went in search of the saleslady.  She was going to be earning her keep today!

While Mom was being pampered by at least two of the salesladies, I decided to try on a few things myself.  I found a really cool white no-iron cotton tuxedo blouse.  I modeled it for Mom and told her that it was a must-have for my meager wardrobe.  I generally never pay full price for any item of clothing, but this blouse wouldn't be around come sale time.  I headed back into my dressing room to change back into the white blouse that I had worn into the store.  (I have a "thing" for white no-iron blouses.  It's a habit that I can't seem to break.)

When I exited my dressing room, I found that Mom was no longer in hers.  Her purse was there, but she was not.  I looked towards the main area of the store and saw her little head bobbing amongst the racks.  The woman who can't find her way to the bathroom at McDonalds can hone in on just about any article of clothing clear across the Chico's sales floor from where the dressing rooms are located.  I watched as her black little French beret skipped from rack to rack.  She's been wearing French berets (red, black, or sky blue) to cover up her brain surgery scars and white hair (she can't get "color" until all her scabs have healed...) because "everyone at Raider Ranch thinks that I look SO cute in them - like a French lady!"  Soon, she returned holding up a size 1 white blouse like the one I just tried on in a larger size.  I sucked in my breath.  I don't mind if Mom wears the same Chico's jeans I wear, but the same white tuxedo blouse.  That was just too much.

After an hour of trying to find a pair of jeans that fit just as well as the imagined "wide" fits, we left Chico's with 2 big sacks of sale items.  Neither of the sacks contained a white tuxedo blouse.  Once I saw how cute it looked on her petite body, I couldn't bring myself to buy it.  Once she saw the "full" price, she couldn't bring herself to buy it either.  Off we go to Q Nails.  "We could go get the pedicure now, but I'm really hungry," she tells me, "We don't have to go all the way back to Cracker Barrel, I don't mind eating whatever is handy."  "Well, what are you hungry for?"  "Chicken & dumplings with a side of turnip greens."  Without a word, I pulled onto the loop and headed west for Cracker Barrel taking slow, measured deep breaths.

On the drive over, she began to repeat some of the little newsy items that she'd already told me a couple of times that morning.  Rather than tell her that she had already told me those things NUMEROUS times, I decided to mentally pay myself a dime every time she said a "repeater."  Here are some of the big money makers:
  • "My friends at Raider Ranch LOVE my French berets!  They think I look SO cute in them."
  • "I can't believe that lady at church (tiny service at Raider Ranch which about 10 people actually attend) remembered my name the second time she saw me!"  (I credit the French berets.)
  • "That eye doctor (retina specialist) said he didn't ever need to see me again!  My eye doctor in Waco wanted to check my eyes twice a year!"  (pork barrel Medicare fraud?)
  • "I've been sooo hungry for chicken & dumplings with a side of turnip greens at Cracker Barrel!"
  • "Every morning I get up early to go to the 'free' breakfast [long story...just go with it...] they have at Raider Ranch.  This morning I had eggs, some cantaloupe & strawberries, a raspberry Danish, coffee and juice!  It was so good!  Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day!" 
Two hours later, I returned her to her apartment at Raider Ranch and carried in her Chico's sack along with her Cracker Barrel chicken-and-dumplings-with-a-side-of-turnip-greens leftovers.  She told me that all of her friends at Raider Ranch think that she has the BEST DAUGHTER IN THE WORLD.  I gathered up her little Chico's size 1 body in a bear hug and kissed her soft, sweet cheek.  When I told her that I enjoyed getting to be with her all afternoon, I meant it.  No, really.  I meant it.  

You see, my mother drives me Kir-RAZY.  And, I adore her. 

By the way.  That $35 off coupon for Chico's?  Expired.


lulu said...

i ADORE you and your sweet mother.
thanks for sharing your afternoon with your mother...with us. love from waco.

Jan Greenlee Hayes said...

So sweet, reminded me of my last shopping trip with my mother. Trust me, the memories will only become more treasured. You and your mother are blessed!


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