We go grocery shopping on Sunday afternoon. Every week, Mother looks forward to it and I dread it. Recently, I talked myself into trying to reframe it from “my weekly grocery shopping trip that I have to take Mom along on” to “Mom’s weekly outing wherein I also get to buy groceries”. And I really tried yesterday. I really did.
Around 4 pm, I hear Mom move from the couch to her bedroom, and I know she is getting ready for our grocery outing. After dressing, she goes into the bathroom to comb her hair and apply her lipstick. I remind her that she needs to change her briefs. When she strongly protests that she just did, just before she got dressed, I allow the look on her face to convince me that, even though I didn’t hear her go into the bathroom, perhaps I just wasn’t paying attention at that particular time. I don’t really believe her, but I don’t want to argue with her, just in case she’s telling the truth.
When it’s time to go, I check the back of her pants to make sure they’re not wet, and we head out to the car. When we arrive at Publix, I don’t think to check her pants when she gets out of the car, so I don’t see the saucer-sized wet spot beginning to spread across the back of her legs until she’s maneuvering to sit on the bench just inside the front door. I briefly consider ignoring it and getting on with the grocery shopping, but I know it will just be that much worse later. I bend over to say loudly into her ear, but at least not yell out to the entire supermarket, “You need to get up. We need to go back home.”
“Your pants are wet.”
“They’ll be fine.”
“No, we need to go back to the car. Your pants are wet.”
“I don’t have any pants in the car.”
“No, we have to go home.”
She realizes I’m not going to let it go, and slowly stands to move toward the door. I pull aside a young bagger to let her know that someone should wipe down the middle cushion of the bench.
When we get to the car and are pulling out of the parking lot, I say, “I WANT TO TELL YOU THAT I’M ANGRY.”
“DID YOU HEAR ME?”
“No, what did you say?”
“I SAID, I’M ANGRY.”
“Why are you angry?”
“I’M ANGRY BECAUSE YOU LIED TO ME ABOUT CHANGING YOUR BRIEFS. AND NOW THEY’RE WET AND WE HAVE TO GO HOME.”
“Well, I don’t want you to be angry.”
“AND I DON’T WANT YOU TO LIE TO ME ABOUT CHANGING YOUR BRIEFS. AND I’LL BE COMING BACK TO THE STORE BY MYSELF.”
“By yourself?? Why??”
“BECAUSE YOU LIED TO ME ABOUT CHANGING YOUR BRIEFS AND ENDED UP WITH WET PANTS. THAT’S NOT OKAY.”
When we get home and inside, I move to block her way to the couch so I can direct her into the bathroom to change. I wait to take her pants so I can put them straight into the wash, along with the pad she was sitting on in the car.
“Can you bring me some more pants?”
“No, just go on in your room and put on a housecoat.”
In the laundry room, I use a stainstick on the blots of lipstick spotting the front of her white pants before putting them and the pad into the washer. Over the splashing of the water filling the tub, I faintly hear my husband call from the other room that she’s yelling for me. I finish what I’m doing and go into her room to find her sitting on the bed.
“I need some pants.”
“No, just put a housecoat on.”
“I don’t have one.”
“They’re in your closet.”
“Will you hand me one?”
I pull a bright yellow, snap-front housedress off its hanger and hand it to her. She struggles to put in on, as if she’s never done it before. At this point, I’m too annoyed to be sympathetic, and while I help her put it on, I insist that she snap up the front herself.
“Okay – I’m going back to the grocery store.”
“And you’re going to leave me here.”
“Yes, I am. Do you know why?”
“Because you don’t like me.” (This is a joke/not joke reply. She doesn’t really think I don’t like her. But she knows I’m irritated with her.)
“No, because you lied to me about not changing your briefs.”
“Okay, okay, ” she says as she looks away. This is her way of ending the conversation. She lipreads as much or more than she actually hears. If she’s not looking at my face, I know she’s no longer participating.
I move to the door and, 45 minutes after my first attempt, leave, once again, to go buy groceries.