Praying to go Home

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I find myself at a loss for words these days. My heart is heavy and my thoughts are cloudy.

I have never been keen on saying “good-bye” to people, and if the truth be told, I’m the relative that always tears up at the airport and has to blow my nose a few hundred times before sending people on their way.

What can I say? Underneath my wry humor and at times quick wit, I’m an emotional lightweight; especially when it comes to my mom and people that I love.

Mom had to leave her apartment 3 weeks ago and was placed in assisted living. My siblings and I felt she needed more assistance and mom agreed to the move. She was struggling with trying to do simple, daily chores and could barely make an egg for herself to eat for breakfast. She knew that she couldn’t live independently any more and WE knew that she couldn’t, either. All the aides and help from family and friends could not maintain her and keep her safe; no matter how hard everyone tried.

My oldest brother contacted me this week. Mom is in the hospital. Didn’t really surprise me because I talk to her every day and have been keenly aware of the fact that she was not feeling well for some time now.

He called me for a second time this week. I knew when I saw his number on my cell phone that it wasn’t going to be a social call. Everyone that knows my brother knows that he’s not one for idle chatter.

So when I got the second call from him in as many days this week, I knew the call wasn’t going to be fun.

“Hey,” he started. “How ya doing this morning?”

“Swell,” I answered. “What’s up?”

“I just got off the phone with Carmie (our cousin).”

“Mom’s not doing so great. Doctor is referring her to rehab and then recommended that she go to the nursing home, after rehab,” he informed me.

“Hm,” I mumbled. “Doesn’t sound too encouraging.”

“Well,” he answered. “I called Uncle Toney. He’ll go up and see her and said he’d give me a ring later.”

“Yeah,” I responded. “That sounds like a plan. Call me, if you hear anything.”

My mom is over 3,000 miles away, struggling to survive, while at the same time praying to go home.

And I, her oldest daughter, idly sit with heavy heart and cloudy thoughts.

My mom wants us to play and to live life fully and doesn’t want us to feel sad. When she passes, she wants us to go to lunch and laugh with each other and remind each other of past fun times.

And I so want to honor my mother’s last wishes. I so want to be the dutiful daughter.

But it’s hard to laugh and go on living, when my mom is over 3,000 miles away and struggling to survive.

And at the same time praying to go home.

But I know my mom and I know how much she loves to laugh. So I need to hitch up my britches, and I need to go on, because that’s what Momma B. wants.

And what Momma wants, Momma gets.

It’s time to get up.

And it’s time to live.

Have a good day, People. And I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

 

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Mom Goes to Camp

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Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself to get through the emotional roller coaster of having her placed in assisted living – she’s going to an old folks camp to be with her friends.

 

So, why do I feel so sad?

 

I always thought that she’d die in her current abode with a heart attack – never imagined that she’d end up with stage 4 breast cancer and congestive heart failure – never in a million years.

 

She keeps going, my mom. She keeps putting on her lipstick and keeps ironing her clothes and combing her hair.

 

And every day she tells me, “I just don’t understand why I’m so darned lazy. I’m tired just getting out of bed in the morning. Doesn’t make any sense to me. I gotta keep eating to keep up my strength, but I’m too lazy to cook any more; just too darned lazy to cook any more,” she continues before telling me that she can’t talk any more.

 

My 89-year-old mom is going to an assisted living home and I feel guilty and sad and every emotion in between.

 

“She’ll be safe there and have activities and have friends to talk to when she’s lonely.”

 

Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself to ease my guilt.

 

“Change is good,” friends and family tell me.

 

“But Mom and I aren’t too keen on change,” I respond.

“She’ll be fine,” they insist. “She needs the extra help and she’s ready to go.”

 

And they’re right: she does need the help and she is ready to go.

 

So, I’ll put on my big girl pants and be grateful that she has loving, caring family members and friends to look after her and let her go off to the old folks camp and pray that God and the angels continue to watch over her.

 

In the meantime, I’m grateful for the continued thoughts and prayers as we stumble along living life in our shoes.

Hullo! Is Anybody home?

For those of you that have regularly followed me over time, you know that I have a mother with a few endearing (or not-so-endearing) little peculiarities. To say that Momma Benedetti’s special character traits haven’t ingratiated herself with many would be a boldface lie. So when my sister and I recently tried to telephone her, repeatedly, and were unable to reach her, we were a tad concerned.

 

My mom has a pretty steadfast routine and RARELY deviates from it. Her morning coffee, a trip to the loo, watching her favorite show, “The Price is Right”, taking out the garbage 3 times a day; walking the circle around her senior complex…you get the picture. We know if it’s Monday afternoon, she’s at the Senior Center playing “pitch”, her favorite card game, and if it’s Thursday afternoon, she’s across the street playing cards with her Thursday group.

 

She eats regularly, poo’s regularly, does her laundry, dusts and makes sure the garbage doesn’t sit in her baskets more than a couple of hours. So when we couldn’t reach her over an 18 hour period of time between her regular routines, my sister and I became concerned.

 

I was hesitant to text our cousin at her job because she does so much for Mom/us and thought long and hard about contacting the complex’s administrative person to check on her, but decided when BOTH my cousin and I couldn’t reach her, that I’d best contact someone at the apartment’s office.

 

Linda, the office administrator, graciously answered, sent up an individual to check on her and lo and behold, 10 minutes later, I received a phone call from Momma.

 

“What’s your problem?” she barked. “I got your phone calls. I was busy eating and didn’t wanna be bothered.”

 

“The maintenance guy scared the heck outta me pounding on the door,” she added.

 

“Cazzo! she continued. “Can’t a body eat in peace without being harassed?”

 

At that point, I took a deep breath, told her that I had to visit the restroom and hung up.

 

Damn that old woman drives me nuts!

 

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Have a great day, People, and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

 

 

Obama Messes with Ma’s Routine

There are certain things that are as regular as rain in my Mother’s life; and you don’t mess with her routine or she gets a little grumpy. Morning coffee, visiting “the facilities” after morning coffee, playing her weekly card games with the gang; driving to the Dollar Store, and watching her favorite morning show, “The Price is Right”, are set in stone for her.

This morning, President Obama messed with one of Mom’s routines; and as luck would have it, I was the fortunate offspring to make the phone call to her just after Mr. Obama’s untimely faux pas.

“I missed the last 5 minutes of ‘The Price is Right’ this morning and I’m pissed off,” she said when I asked her how she was doing. “I didn’t see who got the car or boat,” she continued. “Obama interrupted the show and I missed the last few minutes of it. Damn it! The man is always 5 to 10 minutes late when he gives a speech, and this morning he had to be early. Boy, he pissed me off!”

“Hm…,” I responded. “How inconsiderate of the guy. What was he talking about?”

“How the hell do I know?” she shot back. “I like the man and all, but I don’t always listen to him – especially when he interrupts my shows. All I DON’T know is who won the car or boat today!”

“Well,” I answered. “Glad to know that ya got your priorities straight.”

“So,” I continued, deciding to strike while the iron was hot. “Ya know who you’re voting for in November?”

“Cazzo,” she answered. “I’m 87 years old, Lucie. Who the hell knows if I’ll even be around this November? I just picked up my car from the garage this morning for the 3rd time this month, and I think my car and ME are both are on our way out. Best I felt was today and yesterday,” she continued. “Must be I’m ready to kick the bucket. They say you feel your best when you’re on your last legs.”

“Well, that’s a sobering thought,” I remarked before she quickly continued.

“And who the hell knows who I’m voting for?” she answered. “They’re both stoonods, idiots, as far as I’m concerned, and Trump seems like a bigger stoonod than the other one, but I’m not so sure I’m ready for a woman to run the country. I’m not gonna worry ‘bout it. I could be dead by then. Who knows? I gotta let you go, Lucie. I’ve still got put-on some lipstick and iron my shorts before I go play cards. I ironed my dungarees this morning, but totally forgot to iron my shorts. Sometimes I’m a stoonod myself. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, honey. Love you.”

“Love you, too, Ma,” I said and the next thing I heard was the phone click off.

Sometimes life throws us these little challenges to keep us on our toes, People. We can either put on a little lipstick and show up, or crawl back into bed and start over again tomorrow – totally your call.

In the meantime, be kind to one another and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

 

 

Ya Gotta Eat a Little Dirt Once in Awhile

In some parts of the country, the weather Gods haven’t figured out that it’s spring, yet.

As of this writing, my Mom (who lives in upstate NY) is still in her long underwear on a daily basis and I’m 3,000 miles away trying to figure out how my Buddha belly is gonna look in last year’s bikini.

(Yeah, right. And for those of you that think I ever owned a bikini, what medication are you currently taking? I’d like some myself!)

My Mom starts climbing the walls when the weather gets bad and she can’t get out, so I thought I’d best give her a call to see how she was doing.

She usually plays cards with the ladies today and I decided to give her a call to see if she was gonna bundle up and venture out or hang out in her hamster cage for the day.

She answered right away and I asked her what she was doing.

Rarely at a loss for something to say, she started talking immediately.

“I’m eating strawberries, Lucie. Your brother, Anthony, told me that they’re healthy for me. Got something called oxidants or some such thing in them that are supposed to be good for you. Guess they clean your blood and keep your blood pressure down to prevent heart attacks. Sounds like some kind of laundry detergent to me, but what ta hell do I know?” she sarcastically asked.

“Well, Ma, I think you mean antioxidants. Berries are loaded with antioxidants and yes, they’re good for your heart and have been known to reduce blood pressure and inflammation,” I told her.

“And,” I continued.

“They’re rich in potassium, Mom. I’m glad you’re eating them, but I thought you didn’t like berries?” I asked.

“Cazzo,” she responded.

“I hate berries! Your Aunt Carmie eats them with her cereal every day and has been trying to get me to eat them now for years. I can’t stand them,” she empathically let me know.

“I sliced them up and put on a bunch of sugar and then remembered that I had some Cool Whip left over from Easter and slapped on some Cool Whip. They’re not too bad with the sugar and Cool Whip. I don’t know how your Aunt eats them plain, though. Makes me gag,” she informed me.

Yep.

W e l l,” I slowly said in a high pitched voice.

“Sounds to me like you’ve negated the health benefits of the berries with all that additional sugar that you added, but what ta hell do I know? I’m sick all the time and eat my berries nude.”

“Cazzo, Lucie. You gotta eat a little dirt once in a while. You kids eat too healthy and aren’t getting enough natural germs in your system and then get sick all the time. When I was a kid, I was really sickly as a baby and our neighbor told Nonnie to give me a raw egg to help me get stronger. Nonnie did and I got better. You damn kids don’t know how to eat right today. The old timers knew how to eat,” she rattled on without taking a breath.

“Hey,” she continued without letting me get a word in edgewise.

“Aren’t you supposed to be packing for your trip this weekend?” she queried.

“Yeah,” I answered.

“But I thought I’d call you before I started packing and see how you were doing with this crazy weather, lately,” I continued.

“And any way, I don’t know what the hell to pack. The weather’s crazy out here, too. Don’t know if I need my long underwear and boots or bikini and flip flops!” I chuckled, cracking myself up.

“Figurati (fee-GUH-rah-tee, loosely translated: don’t worry about it), Lucie!” she responded, totally ignoring my humor.

“Pack a duffle bag with a pair of undies, socks and a toothbrush, and you’re good to go,” she continued.

“Madonna!”

“You always pack too much shit,” she bluntly informed me.

Yep.

Mom knows best.

I thought I’d pack the flip flops and buy my underwear and a tooth brush on the road. My Doctor said I’ve been carrying around too much weight, lately, anyway.

Remember to be kind to each other today, People, and take the time every day to laugh.

Catch ya next go round, looking at life from my shoes!

 

Spider Guts and Clean Sneaks

Mom called me this morning. The weather was crappy and she was bored.

“Hey,” she said, starting the conversation.

“Your sister, Carmie, called this morning.”

“Hm…that’s nice,” I mumbled as I tried to feign interest.

“What’d Carmie have to say this morning, Ma?” I asked.

“Ya know,” she said, totally ignoring my question. “You kids need to let the phone ring longer when you call me sometimes. Your sister called when I was on the toilet this morning and only let the phone ring 3 times before leaving a message. Cazzo! I’m old, ya know? I can’t get off the toilet and answer the phone that quickly any more. My legs aren’t that flexible any longer.”

“I know, Ma,” I started to say before she continued rattling on.

“You kids are so impatient. Wait ‘till you get to be my age,” she continued.

“Mom,” I tried interjecting again. “If you change the answering machine setting…”

“You kids are all alike,” she said, interrupting one more time. “You’re all in such a damn hurry.”

“It’s a miracle I didn’t have a heart attack trying to answer the phone this morning,” she continued.

“Uh-Hun,” I quickly interjected before she started on another tirade.

“Don’t you have your card game today at Trackside with the gang?” I asked, trying my darndest to change the topic of conversation.

“Yeah,” she responded. “I hope we play cards today, but it’s windy out and it’s supposed to sprinkle. Who the hell knows if they’ll show up today? The girls don’t like the wind or rain.”

“Well,” I responded, “Isn’t the place that you play cards right there on ….”

Once again, she interrupts, “Cazzo! What the hell is crawling on my rug?”

“Che schifo (keh SKEE-feh, ‘how disgusting’)!”

“I don’t vacuum today and I’ve got a spider crawling on my rug! Don’t hang up, Lucie. I gotta kill this damn spider!”

“I’m not going anywhere, Ma, I…” and again she interrupts me.

“Son-ah-batch! Your Mother’s a killer!” she yelled into my ear.

“Shit! Now I’ve got squished spider guts on the bottom of my clean sneaks,” she rattles on.

“Damn it! I’m gonna hafta wash my sneaks and I just washed them last week.”

“Well, Ma,” I calmly started to say. “You can simply wipe off the….”

And once again, I get cut off mid-sentence.

“If I wasn’t such a pig and vacuumed my rug this morning, the little shit wouldn’t have found a home on my rug and I wouldn’t have had to squish it with my sneaker,” she abruptly informed me.

“Well,” I started again trying to get her back on the topic of playing cards today. “Why don’t you wash your sneakers tomorrow and go over and play cards today with the girls? It’ll give you something to do, alright?” I lovingly suggested, trying to get her off of the topic of squished spider guts.

“Madonna! I told you at the start of our conversation, it’s windy today and it’s supposed to rain. Ma, che sei grullo! (How silly are you?),” she said.

“Well, Mom, don’t you guys all live right there at the complex?” I innocently asked.

“Correct me if I’m wrong,” I continued, “but isn’t the hall like 20 to 30 feet from your apartment complex?”

“Yeah,” she curtly answered, “but like I said Lucie, it’s supposed to rain and be windy today.”

“Uh-Hun,” I mumbled.

“Don’t you all have umbrellas out there on the East Coast, Ma? Or rain slickers?”

“Can’t you put on a rain slicker and brave the elements for 20 feet, for Pete’s sake?” I continued.

“Ya know, Lucie, I’m so glad you went to college. You’re such a stoonod (idiot)!”

“Cazzo,” I answered back.

“Ya know, old woman, if ya don’t wanna walk the 20 or so feet in a little wind and rain today to play cards with your buddies, then stay home by yourself and work on your circle word puzzles. I really don’t care. I thought you sounded a little bored and lonely when you first called me, but what ta hell do I know? I’m an educated stoonod!

Yep.

Conversing with my Mom can be sooo uplifting some days, ya know?

She’s lucky I love the little rompicoglioni (pain in the ass).

Have a great day today, People, and I’ll catch ya next time, looking at life from my shoes.

 

 

My Mother’s Call

I called my Mom this morning.

Nothing out of the ordinary.

I do most mornings to check on her.

I knew when she answered the phone that she was having a “down day” – her voice was low and her words came slower than normal and with little emotion.

“I just got some bad news a half an hour ago,” she slowly started.

“My friend Carmie died a week or so ago. Her daughter called me this morning and told me. Remember Carmie, Lucie? I used to go to the state fairs and meet up with her and her husband in Auburn. Remember?” she quietly asked.

“Yeah, Ma, I remember you telling me what a great time the three of you had, but I don’t really remember that much about her,” I answered.

“Was she one of your school friends or someone you met after I left NY?” I asked, lowering my tone of voice to match hers.

She told me that Carmie was a school friend that she had known for many years, and they had kept in contact with each other as much as opportunity and time would allow. They had reconnected with each other after Mom’s divorce, and she really enjoyed the reminiscing and fun that they had every time they saw each other.

“We didn’t see each other much,” she continued. “I couldn’t drive that far and her husband stopped driving up here years ago because of his health, but boy when we did see each other, we had such a good time – such a good time…” and her voice suddenly trailed off.

The phone then went silent for longer than usual with my Mom, and I could hear her let out a deep sigh, as she composed herself for what she had to say next.

She then quietly continued, “I know it’s our time to go and there’s really nothing to be sad about, ‘cuz she lived a good life, but I’m losing a lot of my friends these days and I feel kinda bad today, Lucia. To tell you the truth, I feel a little sad.”

She hesitated again and in a voice laden with sadness and a hint of regret, continued.

“I knew when I called her at Christmas that things weren’t going so well for her and Bruno,” she said, “and I just felt something was terribly wrong for the last couple of weeks and wanted to call, but didn’t want to bother them.”

“Isn’t that weird, how I just knew something was wrong and then her daughter called me this morning and told me that she died two weeks ago?” she continued.

“No, Ma, I don’t find that weird at all,” I answered. “You were close friends and sometimes close friends and loved ones sense things about each other. I don’t find it weird, Mom.”

She quickly changed the topic of conversation and we chatted for another few minutes and then she told me that she needed to take her walk before it got too cold outside.

So, we hung up and both went on with the business of our days.

Only by this point, I was also “feeling a little sad, to tell you the truth” – feeling a little sad that my Mom was alone in her grieving.

What struck me even sadder, though, was the reality that my Mom is at that age when I think she’s wondering if her time may not be so far away, and that the infamous phone call that Carmie’s daughter made to her, will be made soon by one of her own children to some of her remaining friends.

It’s a topic that I really don’t want to discuss, but one that I firmly believe is necessary and important for her to express and get off her chest.

We know where her plot and headstone are and we know where all the important papers are, and we know that she wants to be cremated.

But maybe, just maybe, we need to know if there’s anything on her heart that she wants to say before she goes – if there’s anything that she needs to express to us before she joins Carmie and all of her good friends for that final and eternal pitch game in Heaven with God?

Hm…

I think I’ll make an important phone call today, People, and catch ya next time, looking at life from my shoes.