Those of you with elderly parents know what a
fiasco adventure it can be when you take them places. So you’ll not be a bit surprised at the disaster challenge I encountered a few weeks ago when I took my 91-year-old mama to her best friend’s funeral. And if you know my mother, you’re already expecting the worst.
After I picked up Mama in my car, we drove ninety minutes to the out-of-town Celebration of Life for her dear friend and former next-door neighbor for nearly fifty years, Mary Gissy.
Let me say at this point that Miss Mary always enjoyed a good laugh. Having raised seven rambunctious children, I suspect it was her most effective defense mechanism. And the good Lord knows that my mama’s mission in life was always to make others smile. It was her mission way back when the Gissy’s moved into the newly sprouted Green Acres neighborhood in Starke (FL) where Mama and Daddy had just built a tiny block starter house (I was two-years-old at the time) and it’s still her mission all these years later.
Miss Mary and Mama were truly a match made in heaven. At first glance, they appeared to be oil and water. But their personalities meshed like squash and taters. If Mama said let’s go, Miss Mary was already in the car. She was Ethel to Mama’s Lucy. The same kind of different.
In recent years, as they aged, they had both left Green Acres to move closer to their respective children miles apart, but whenever they got together, as they loved to do, the air molecules sparkled with their crazy cackles of laughter. They knew how to make each other howl. Just as longtime heart-friends should. And so I know what happened next would have had Miss Mary laughing harder than anyone.
When we arrived at the church for the service (already late, as usual when Mama is present), we got out of the car and ten candy bar wrappers fell from Mama’s lap onto the floorboard. Mind you, she carries an enormous stash of snacks with her wherever she goes (in case you get stranded on a desert island, you must have a month’s supply of Reese’s Cups) and although she’d eaten breakfast right before we left, she’d apparently been sneaking chocolate the entire ride.
I ran around to her side of the car to help wrench her out and as she stood and staggered the first few steps with her cane, I was HORRIFIED to see chocolate smeared all over the seat of her royal blue pants. She had evidently dropped a boatload of chocolate crumbs between her legs and wallowed in them for the past hour and a half.
The car seat she had just evacuated looked like a constipated cow had deposited an extra large patty in sublime relief.
Oh no! The last of the crowd had already filed into the reception hall and the service was about to begin. We were late. We were discombobulated. We were humiliatingly filthy. What was I supposed to do now?
Feeling too stressed to be blessed (a little play on my book title there), I half dragged, half carried her 90-pound self into the foyer (Mama does nothing in a hurry!) and searched madly for the ladies bathroom. Commanding her to NOT MOVE, I ran inside and wet a handful of paper towels then came back to try to scrub/scrape some of the brown, embedded goo off her hiney.
All I ended up doing was smearing it around. Swell. People would just have to think she needed Depends.
Can you say humiliating?
We finally located a seat (as I self-consciously stuck to her as closely as a lovebug trying to shield her backside from inquisitive eyes) and as I helped lower her into her chair – which is something akin to guiding a falling tree – I noticed something peculiar. What in the world? Chunks of black rubber – some the size of marbles, some like hunks of gravel – were trailing behind us in Hansel and Gretel fashion, following our exact path from the door to our table.
Mama raised one of her feet in the air and to my flabbergastation, half of her shoe sole was missing. The other half was hanging off in shreds. And a rubble pile of dry rotted black rubber collected under Mama’s feet as she burst into peals of hysterical laughter and swung her feet like pendulums.
Bwahahaha. “These are my dressy shoes!” Mama roared. “You should take me out more often!” Bwahahahahahahahaha.
Everyone stared. It felt like a reincarnation of Mary Richards at Chuckles the Clown’s funeral (be sure to Google that Mary Tyler Moore Show vid if you haven’t seen it lately!). Except this time Mama sat there laughing her brains out until everyone around us had to laugh too.
At. A. Funeral.
Despite my own horror, I suspect Miss Mary was getting a good chuckle out of it in heaven. She knew my mama better than anyone. And I’m sure she wasn’t a bit surprised.
I, however, wanted to run away and hide. To leave Mama there and pick her up next week, shoeless, gooey brown britches bottom and all.
But instead I had to get down on my hands and knees – in my dry clean only dress, of course – and scuffle around the floor beneath the table like a mouse gathering cheese crumbs, finger-raking up all the flakes and chunks and shards of rubber to deposit in the nearest trash bin along with those dry rotted shoes.
And hope against hope that my dress wasn’t inching up my backside and flashing all the now hysterical funeral mourners in our vicinity.
So much for dignity.
Mine, not Mama’s.
Oh, no – Mama wasn’t the least bit embarrassed to greet all her friends from the old neighborhood afterward in a pair of old floppy sandals (at least she had those in the back of the car or she would have no doubt been happy to finish out the funeral barefooted).
I know, I know. I should be thankful she’s still here and she’s still spunky and she still likes to laugh. And I am. I truly am. So on to our next adventure. Or maybe that should be misadventure.
But you know what? I’m gonna have to ban those Reese’s Cups.
Say, when was your last misadventure with a family member? I’d love to hear about it!
*Stay tuned for a fabulous Thanksgiving Giveaway coming soon!
Cheryl Johsnton says
Oh my goodness, this had me laughing hysterically, too! Your mom is a sport, for sure, and laughter is probably what has kept her so young and young-at-heart. This will be one of those memories you’ll share for generations!
My 85 year old mom recently fell and broke her hip. She now walks with a walking stick. Needless to say it has now become a weapon of choice if someone is in her way! I walk 5 steps ahead of her these days and with one eye on the “offender” in case they take issue with this new found weaponry in the hands of a 85 year old!
Suzan Ricks says
Sooo funny! I can relate as we now live with Bennys 95 year old stepdad. Most of our misadventures are just embarrassing things that come out of his mouth! Can you say no filters???? Most of which I won’t put in print but in the event I see you in person I will share a few with you!?
I totally understand, Suzan. Mama’s famous saying is, “At my age, I can say anything I want.” I keep telling her, “No. That is not true. You cannot insult people at any age.” Yet she just keeps on doing it.
Nancy Grider says
Oh Debbie, I knew when I saw the title of this story that the chocolate pants had to be involved!!!
At some point during the luncheon she and I were laughing and she said “Oh, I’ve got more chocolate in the car ”
Nancy Grider says
I just love her sense of humor so much!!!!
No doubt where you get your’s from!??
You know it, Nancy. I guess I get my choco-addiction from her as well as my stubby toes.
Just gotta love her. They broke the mold when they made her ?
Fe’ Hardee says
I can’t stop laughing ?….thanks for brightening my day. Give your mother a big hug for me. I can just imagine her laughter overcoming any embarrassment!
This was freakin hilarious !!! I LOvE me a funny writer and a funny story ! The pictures were priceless and oh dear Lord, please don’t let my shoes fall apart at a funeral! Like ever!
Erma Kreider says
I truly loved your story. Brought back many memories of my own mother. Who like yours found the funny in everything. You just have to love them. Enjoy every minute that you share with her and with us. We love you so much,
Cheryl Canova says
Oh my goodness! Thank you for sharing this story!! What a great job you did describing this adventure! I have laughed and laughed!! I love your mama!!!