Tell Tale Tape
- Written by Patsy Oliver
My oldest, very soon to be 24, is spending a lot of time at home these days with my Cute Little German Mother. He’s been looking for work for a while, but has been unsuccessful for the most part. There’s a long story behind that, making the search particularly difficult, but he has come a very long way. During the day while the rest of us are at school and work, he’s usually home with her. They seem now to have developed an odd little routine. My Little Cutie sleeps very late. Her health is poor and she likes to sleep in. And so we try not to disturb her. She starts her oatmeal in the microwave when she eventually wakes up. It’s hard for her to walk, so when she leaves it there, the microwave beeps … and beeps … and beeps. It must be cooked for one minute at the start. She always walks away after that first step. There is a strict procedure for her oatmeal preparation. And no deviation is permitted. I think I mentioned this to you before. He has learned the procedure, which involves stirring and more microwaving, the addition of just the right amount of milk, etc. So, now he finishes it for her and brings it to her. He also makes the coffee, which often leads to some debate about the strength. Thankfully, they both like it very strong. When I get home from work, they both report to me, separately and in hushed tones, the activities of the other for the day. “He vus on dat computer for hours.” “I ran her a bath and made her get in it.” And sometimes the reports are positive. “He cleaned my room and mopped my basroom. Dat’s so nice.” “Oma didn’t have oatmeal today. She made eggs and toast, and made me some, too. I think she’s having a good day.” Occasionally she feels like getting out. One time she wanted to go to her knitting group, mostly older German and Dutch women. She hadn’t felt up to going for some time, so he took her. I was shocked to find out that he stayed with the ladies much of the time. The “hens,” my father used to call them. “Oh, da girls just bragged and bragged on him,” the Little Cutie reported. “Day said he’s so grown up now, so handsome.” He drove her there that day in her car. This vehicle is a source of both joy and utter dismay. It’s a 1995 Ford Crown Victoria, and it has seen much better days. We’ve been trying to get her to sell it because it’s old now, and breaks down a lot. The radio works at a volume that no one can hear. The air quit working, again. Most of the windows can’t be rolled down … making the air situation a much bigger problem. But she loves that car. I mean, she REALLY loves that car. So, it stays in its place on the driveway. We add coolant constantly and clean the spots it leaves underneath. We understand her attachment to it. We all have a lot of fond memories of better days and fun family trips. My son takes her where she needs to go now, cursing the car under his breath. “It’s still da most beautiful car in da parking lot,” she says, at least twice a month. The other day I came home to find my mother in the back yard. That is fairly unusual, but I’ve been encouraging her to get some sun for just a few minutes each day. She decided that it would be a good day for it. My daughter later went out to find that the Little Cutie had folded herself up in the chaise lounge … she was rescued and no damage was done. I wondered where my son was, but then found him outside with some of that blue tape in his hands. The kind you use for painting. I didn’t really ask. Ignorance is bliss … or at least it is for me, at home, much of the time. Later, as I was backing out of the driveway in my car, I saw “For Sale” taped crudely on the rear of her car, in blue tape.