I'm breaking one of my cardinal rules of blogging by typing that sentence. I try very hard to protect the personal space of those about whom I write. But my relationship with G'ma is part and parcel of The Burrow, and as she changes so do those inter-connections. I've been sharing these stories with my friends and family, and you fit nicely into one or the other of those categories, I've decided. Besides, it helps to share and I need some help.
In any event, my concerns are irrelevant. If you came to visit us you would notice it soon enough. If you loved me you wouldn't say anything, unless you were so grossed out that you couldn't stay in the same room. I get that. I'm not crazy about it, either. You might raise an eyebrow or look from me to she, but really, what would you say?
I've always been orally fixated. I sucked my thumb til I was 12. It took a spring vacation where I had to share a room with my older and much admired cousin to cure me of the habit; I could not allow myself to be humiliated in front of her so I stopped. Cold turkey.
I replaced the thumb with a straw; for a while I was found chewing and cogitating whenever I wasn't eating. I find myself doing it still. Big Cuter is always mouthing something,too. A paperclip, a bottle cap, the ring around a bottle cap (they do no damage when swallowed.... trust us on this one....), Red Vines licorice - it doesn't matter as long as it's there.
My point is, perhaps it's a genetic trait.
I noticed her floating teeth sometime after I got shot. To say that I was startled would be an understatement of the first order. My mother went out of her way to be unobtrusive, to stay under the radar, to be certain not to offend. I don't remember hearing her burp or hiccup. Passing gas was an embarrassing laugh, and it didn't happen that often. Dadooooo called her "a blue nose" and accused her of having no sense of humor when it came to those things. He wasn't far from the truth. Sucking on her dentures is not something my mother does.
I think back to the OT G'ma worked with for a while. Holding me as I cried and mourned the loss of the woman I'd known as my Mommy she offered me this perspective:
Yes, that mom is gone. That is sad. But take some time to get to know this new woman. I think you'll really like her.How right she was, and how helpful that advice has turned out to be. It's gotten me over the need to involve her in the world going on around her. Activities in her pod-castle look like this:
G'ma: What are you carrying there?
Activities Director: Balls and other fun stuff for exercise. Want to join us?
G'ma: (snorting) Why? That sounds like work.They laughed and G'ma returned to her couch and her remote control tv component device.
I don't judge her for the fact that The 700 Club is on when I stop by in the afternoon. I don't tell her that she's not really interested in evangelical Christianity. I don't change the channel. I nod as she tells me that "these people are very interesting, although I don't get why Jesus is so involved in the conversation."
I revel in the fact that she's following it enough to be intrigued. Conversations which are emotionally laden seem to make an impression on her brain. She remembers that I got shot "in the ass" and that I was protecting a child and that the child died. She remembers that SIR and Little Cuter "aren't married yet" and that she lives in Tucson and that I live down the road from her pod-castle. She doesn't want to garden or tend to a houseplant or watch me tend to mine, she's not doing crewel work or reading a fat novel. I'm okay with all of that now.
If this is the next stage, though, I'm in deep trouble.
I made two promises to the woman who raised me: that I would always treat her with respect for her wishes and that I would be sure that she lived with dignity. That is a conversation I am glad we had; it's governed my behavior since she came to live near me. It's her life and she lives it according to her own rules and that's just fine. She tries to stay out of my way and I to stay out of hers. Our intersections are filled with joy, the bills are paid automatically by the bank every month, and every once in a while we go to Facebook or Picasa and look at archival pictues and smile.
|The boys really wanted her to look at the camera, didn't they?|
I've already made sure she is well-supplied with adhesive cream. She has no interest in having any help in the bathroom, not for showering or dressing or toileting so I can only imagine the conversation if someone were to offer to help her put in her teeth. I'm actually laughing out loud thinking about it. And I imagine her children and grandchildren are giggling at work right now as they read this and paint the mental picture of this most private of women dismissing the very notion that she would need help with this most basic, most personal of tasks.
What am I to do? When I ask if the dentures and the bridge fit well, she looks surprised as she denies any discomfort. It's obviously a new thought so I believe her. She remembers her recurring pains, even if she doesn't remember their origins. Yes, the dentist is the first step. I hate the fact that I don't trust my mother's judgment, but I don't trust my mother's judgment.
I am tempted to put a post-it on her bathroom mirror. She likes notes, memos on the calendar, reminders on her bedroom door. Making sense of the world around her is a full time job these days; explanations help her stay focused. Maybe You Have Fixodent - Use It!
in bold, day-glo lettering will do the trick.
For now, I'm reduced to scrunching my face up and smiling through my glare as I whine
Please put your teeth in. It's gross.Some things never change, I guess. Daughters will always find something in their mothers' behavior which pushes the Oh, Mommy, please stop it button. But what do I do when I know she'd agree with me. Or who she was would agree with me. Or something.
Like I said, I need help.