Senior moments happen for all of us over-40 clan as we slowly watch them creep into our and our parents’ daily lives. When your parent is a full-fledged senior and you live together; you notice these things even more.
I have the joy of living with Mama in her glorious senior days. Just as there is a certain age when we thought our children were the most fun, I think there is a certain age when our parents are their most fun, too.
When Mama worked at SunTrust in the Tel-Com Department, she wore pretty skirts and two-inch heels and always had her hair looking nice. She walked up and down the narrow stairwell to what I called “her tower” and into the secured door which had a numeral-key-pad entry to her office.
I was in my late 20s, a single mom and working at the Downtown YMCA. Back then, the Y hired full time employees at the membership desk where Martha Wilson was stationed and at the check-in desk where I held my eight-to-five job.
We would get an hour lunch break, so I would walk from the Y to SunTrust on 8th Street and bring lunch to Mama or she and I would walk briskly to a nearby eatery.
One day when I had brought her lunch I was stopped on the street by a man thrusting his business card at me and asking me if I modeled. I didn’t know to be cautious; I simply told him that I was a Barbizon graduate before they closed down but that I never pursued anything more than motherhood.
He then proceeded to tell me that he had a studio in his basement and he had a cute little Indian outfit that he thought would look nice on me to model for photos. I thanked him and went on my way.
Being a housewife and mother at 18, by the time I was 28 I was still 18 in my mind - having been somewhat sheltered for the last 10 years. I kept house, raised my babies and went to church and that was about as much of the world that I had seen.
When I sat down with Mama and our lunch spread, I told her about the man. She asked to see his card and proceeded to ask me questions of what all he had said. She heard the red flags as I spoke: man stopped me on the street… studio in his basement… little Indian outfit. Her brow furrowed and she picked up the phone to check this guy out.
There was no answer, but she told me to throw the card away. She reiterated her never-talk-to-strangers speech that I had heard before. I thought because I was a grown-up that it didn’t count anymore.
That was nearly two decades ago … wait… let me rephrase that because I am not that old. It hasn’t quite been 20 years (okay… I’m old) and it seems that the tables have now been turned - for it is I who will watch over Mama.
When she got a call from an unidentified number claiming to pick up clothing for the needy I had her ask the company's name and I Googled it right away.
I saw countless postings about the company that it was a scam and the company periodically changes their name. I told her to tell them no and hang up. Working from home allows me to be Mama’s guard dog and I am always on watch! We have an alarm system, continuously keep the doors locked (and I have various items of protection – plus no fear).
Mama doesn’t walk up flights of stairs to an office anymore and now she wears peddle-pushers and sneakers. She isn’t quite ready for a walker or a rocker yet, so she is at the fun age of seniorhood. I watch her innocence creep slowly back in her mind and sometimes the filter of her brain-mouth connection doesn’t always work.
I constantly get tickled at some of the things she says. We have started a nightly ritual of watching the Waltons together and, when we first began watching (she is really going to kill me for this), she couldn’t get over how cute John-Boy’s butt was. She wasn’t satisfied until I got to see a side view of him standing and I agreed with her that John-Boy did indeed have a cute butt.
Who would have thought when I was in the second half of my life after traipsing off to New York, exploring hiking expeditions, experiencing a new career in which I meet fascinating people … that I would be home at night waiting for a glimpse of John-Boy’s butt?
Mama is too stubborn to take a nap in the day, so she will drift off sometimes in the evening, but it gives her a second wind that lasts until her ‘after mid-night’ bedtime. You think that seniors go to bed early? That was before the days of the home computer. Practically every senior I know stays up until the wee hours.
Mama doesn’t like when her unintentional naps take place while the Waltons are on. One night last week she drifted off during an episode and I knew she would be mad for missing it. So I let my laptop make a loud noise to wake her. Startled, she realized she fell asleep and missed part of the show and she spouted off, "Dern! I always fall asleep on Walton's Mountain!"
Right away, my fingers did the giggling on my laptop as I posted that on Facebook in my status. My friends love my Mama Sagas and feel as if she were their Mama too.
Taking Mama to doctors’ visits seems to be a regular outing for us. Mama takes more maintenance than my Jeep! But she is a rare vintage model and I want to keep her in mint condition.
While taking her to the Chattanooga Heart Institute to be fitted for a Holter monitor, I dropped her off at the door and found a parking space. While in the elevator, a man recognized me and spoke to me. Unless I am at an interview, I really don’t get out in public much, so this still catches me off guard.
He first thought I was a teacher he must know, but then we found that he is a reader of Chattanoogan.com. It wasn’t as if the man pushed a card in my face and wanted me to model a little Indian outfit, but I became shy all of a sudden.
I didn’t do that thing where you look at their hand to see if they are married to gauge whether or not someone is just being friendly or if they are interested in meeting you. I have not been dating at all so meeting someone has been the furthest thing from my mind. Now that I think about it, he may have even been younger than someone who would find me interesting but as I shyly kept my head down I was just so aware that the opposite sex was talking to me and I didn’t know what to say.
Maybe Mama’s never-talk-to-strangers advice was instilled so deep that I was reverting back to it once again.
I am normally a vibrant, outgoing laugh-a-minute gal who is not shy at all. I say what is on my mind and I normally introduce myself to people I want to meet. I have even been quite flirty when I notice a good-looking man.
I guess that I have secluded myself from the public, keeping mission-minded with work or taking care of Mama, that even a simple ‘hello’ from a man throws me off. I have no idea what I will do when I actually lift my head again and want to meet someone. Right now, I am content just watching John-Boy each night.
After Mama’s appointment, we grabbed lunch – just like old times. Mama was wearing the Holter monitor and she had on a v-neck top. The sticky tabs placed on her chest were visible and, after our very cute, too-young-for-either-of-us waiter took our order, I teased Mama as if she were showing something sexy, “Your tabs are showing.”
Mama gets embarrassed easily and she pulled at her v-neck top, wondering if the cute boy had seen her tabs. When the boy was at another table across from ours… I saw Mama’s ‘cute-butt-radar’ go off. She was checking out the waiter’s butt! (You do realize that she is never going to speak to me again, when she reads this don’t you)?
How can I not share how delightful my Mama is? She is so fun and I am constantly entertained by her. As we were leaving the restaurant, Mama’s newly permed hair was blowing and she cringed, “Oooh my hair is blowing!” Being her third arm for balance, I held onto her and in a loud whisper said, “That’s okay, windblown is sexy!” We chuckled all the way to the car.
When we got home, Molly, Mama’s very old and loyal golden retriever mix, was waiting for us. Mama greeted her faithful companion (who never embarrasses her) and said in a doting voice, “Do you want a bone-y?”
I laughed at her made-up word with the curly cue on the end and repeated, “Bone-y?” Mama stood up straight after petting Molly and puffed up her chest, closed her eyes as if to shut out my mocking her and said, “Well, that’s what she calls it!”
I haven’t had a vacation in years; I rarely get out with friends, but I just have to say that I am having a blast! I know I should get out more and that will come… but for now, a good day ends with, “Good Night, John-Boy.”