Last week I asked Mom if I could spend the night with her on the 15th because Alan would be out of town on business. She got all excited about having a slumber party. At least 3 times she called to let me know that I could come eat with her on slumber party night so that I wouldn't have to cook my own dinner.
Here is her nightly routine which begins at 4:30PM:
4:30 Turn the heat in her apartment up to 80 so that the bathroom will be warm when
she takes her nightly shower. For some reason, Raider Ranch does not have
bathroom heaters which in Mom's opinion is an egregious oversight. I'm with you,
4:32 Toddle down to the dining room and call dibs on a table for 4. Octogenarians save
seats for each other just like elementary kids do in the school cafeteria.
5:00 Dinner complete with lively discussion regarding Medicare benefits and which
resident took the latest ambulance ride. There is a moment of silence if a broken
hip was the cause of the ride.
6:00 Call it a night and slowly mosey back to her apartment.
6:10 Enter the tropical climate of her apartment and begin her nightly ablutions in the
now toasty warm bathroom.
7:00 All fresh from the shower and in a clean nightgown, she calls Leonard, as promised,
to let him know that she didn't fall in the shower. Nighty night, Leonard.
7:02 Settle in for some good TV watching: Dancing with the Stars or Antiques
8:00 Yawn and head for bed.
Knowing this nightly slow-paced regimen, I decided that I would stay home and "cook" my own dinner. I secretly splurged calories on some chicken livers and fried okra from Chicken Express and patted myself on the back for saving half of the livers for lunch the next day. I had consumed most of the okra on the ride home from Chicken Express. I headed over to Mom's at about 7:45.
I knocked on her patio door and waited for her to tippy-toe to the door to let me in. She peeked through the blinds to make sure that it was me and not some "bad stranger" before she began the process of letting me in. Like a New York apartment, there are 3 locks on her door - 2 deadbolts and the doorknob lock. Click. [long pause] Clack. [long pause] Swoosh. [long pause] The door slowly swung open.
Me: I'm here!!! Ready to PAR-TAY!
Mom [grinning from ear to ear]: I'm glad you're here!
Me: Have you planned any slumber party games? Are we going to give each other pedicures? Will there be a seance?
Mom [with a feeble giggle]: I'm watching Antiques Roadshow. I haven't seen David yet.
David Lackey is my husband's brother. He's kind of a Rock Star in the world of antiques. He appears occasionally on the Roadshow, thus the "watch for David." So, we watch. No David.
Mom: I had a really good supper tonight. I had Salisbury steak, beans, fruit - I always bring the fruit back to my apartment so I can have it with my breakfast - and peach cobbler with ice cream.
Me: That sounds delicious!
Mom: Are you hungry? Do you want my fruit?
Seriously? Who on earth would take a styrofoam container of fruit from a sweet grandmother who has planned ahead so carefully?!
Me: I'm fine! Thanks, though!
Which brings us to 9:00.
Mom: How late are we going to stay up?
Me: I think that the rules of the Slumber Party dictate that we watch the sunrise together while we finish up some Fritos and a can of bean dip.
Mom [again with the feeble giggling]: I can't stay up all night.
Me: Me either. Let's just go to bed now. [I brought along my book and a couple of magazines.]
She tippy-toed to the thermostat and whacked it down to about 65 degrees then turned on the ceiling fan because she likes to "sleep cold." By 9:10, Meems was breathing softly and the corners of her mouth were turned down signaling the early onset of delicious REM sleep leaving me in the sweet silence of her cozy apartment re-reading the last 2 pages of the book that I fell asleep reading the night before. Sleeping Meems had pulled the covers over her ears so that she won't "get an ear ache" from the wind of the ceiling fan.
I drank in the peace that I've always felt at home. My childhood home. Meems' soft decorating touch with pinks, pale blues, yellows and her sweet feminine furniture lulled me to my happy place. I could feel the warmth of her tiny body in the double bed that we shared. The 3" memory foam mattress topper that always keeps the fitted sheet from staying neatly tucked in place memorized my body and enticed me to relax. I surrendered without a fight and asked myself why I was just now taking the time to have a slumber party with my sweet little mother.
This morning, I snuck out to get her a fresh gallon of milk checking the expiration date carefully. She always tells me to get the one with the "longest life." I crept back into her sanctuary and slipped the milk into her refrigerator next to the gallon that expired 2 days ago.
When I went to tell her goodbye and give her a kiss, I told her about the fresh milk.
Me: Do you want me to go ahead and dump out the expired milk?
Mom [yawning and stretching]: No! It stays fresh for a few days after the expiration date.
I think that there's a lesson to be learned from the expired milk. Meems make look expired, but her heart is still fresh and sweet. Out of respect for her and the tired milk, I left the enough-for-a-bowl-of-cereal gallon in the frig and prayed that her taste buds will warn her when the old milk officially turns sour.
I left her cozily abed where she will dream wild dreams of pet elephants* and one hundred babies crawling down the street howling for clean diapers. She and the questionable milk will see each other around noon. Oh, and the fruit.
*During her groggy goodbye she told me that she dreamed that an unidentifiable friend had a pet elephant. "They tried to put it to sleep, but it didn't die. I don't know why they were trying to put it to sleep. But, it just wouldn't die."