Mom is still staying with me. Her spare room is insidiously filling up with piles of plastic shopping bags tied together at the handles.
I know Mom compulsively shops. She’s admitted to me before that it helps give her purpose and fills some sort of gap for her. She doesn’t see it’s filling in gaps for us to, except it’s our room to breathe. She keeps bringing home stuff that she’s bought for me or for my daughters, but it’s neither stuff we’ve asked for or want. For instance, she found a cookie pan with imprints in it to give cookies a snow flake design. She hands it to me and says “I thought the girls would get a kick out of this.” Which is fine, if she’d actually bought the cookie ingredients and carved out the time to actually make these cookies with the girls. So instead, I have to store this cookie sheet.
I know that sounds ungrateful. You might not be able to understand the volume and frequency at which this happens. It’s overwhelming. Unwelcome.
Mom has been with us now for 5 weeks, heading into our sixth. She’s gone to her old house twice. Once to turn off her taps and pipes to reduce the damage when they thaw and spray water everywhere in her absence. And this past weekend, she went to pick up her mail.
She stayed there for 2 nights. She slept in her van in her driveway, which isn’t, of course, very restful at all. She filled her days by shopping at her favourite thrift store haunts. I’m not sure if she ate much.
I didn’t hear from her for 2 days. I worried she tried to travel on the highway while we had thick fog. I wouldn’t know if she’d had an accident along the way. I also didn’t want her to answer her cell phone while driving, so I didn’t call her right away. Finally, Sunday morning, I got in touch with her.
She said she was coming back but had some errands to do. I reminded her to come early to avoid driving in the dark, and through the the heavier traffic that happens when people rush back to the city on Sunday nights. That perhaps she wouldn’t be as tired if she drove in the early afternoon. I’m always afraid she’ll fall asleep at the wheel.
She remembers to call before leaving her town. By this time, it’s 5:30 pm. On average, it’s about 3.5 hours to make the trip, but it always takes her longer. The dog needs to have pit stops, and she’ll stop for coffee or food along the way. It’s hard to drive for that long when you have chronic back pain. It’ll be after 9 by the time she gets home safely.
In fact, she calls as I’m deep in the bedtime routine for my daughters at 9 pm. She’s made it to town. But has had an accident.
Out I go, to find her a mere 5 minutes from my house. She got so close! And although I’m not entirely sure what happened, I can see her front tire is completely blown out from hitting a curb. She’s ok, but perhaps a little sore from the impact. A bit sheepish, too.
I call a tow truck. The driver first attempts to find her spare tire, which is under the floor of the back of her van. Which is packed to the very top with more random plastic shopping bags tied at the handles. To his credit, the tow truck driver was a complete gentleman, and treated her with dignity and without derision concerning the state of her van.
We delivered the van to a repair shop, and I brought her home to rest. Let’s see what a new day brings.