The Home

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The following is a true story.

It happened in a clothing outlet, one mid-morning in early September.

A mother and teenage daughter were waiting on line. The mother was fifty-ish, probably near, or in the throes of, her changes and looked like someone who paid close attention to her diet and exercised regularly. If she was anything like I was at that age, she was probably at war with her body much of the time and the five extra pounds waiting to glom on to her with every bite of any carbohydrate. From where I stood, however, she was obviously winning as she was trim, and very fit in her skinny jeans and crisply tailored shirt.

If she had gray hairs, they were masked well by strategically placed highlights. Like most women at that age, she had a few lines on her face, but what struck me most was her fatigued expression. As clearly as she adored the girl, I sensed she would rather have been at home reading a good book than shopping.

As space on the conveyor belt cleared, the mother began placing items on it—tee shirts, sweaters, shoes, waiting for the two women ahead of her to pay and leave.

They were also a mother and daughter, but the former—short, elderly, with rounded shoulders and coarse, steel-hued hair—stood aside, steadying herself by holding on to their shopping cart’s handle as the former—close in age to the teenager’s mother—paid for the items.

When all their bags were in the cart, and the sales receipt was in the daughter’s hand, they walked to the exit, the daughter staying close to her mother, who continued to use the cart for support.

The teenage girl’s mother watched the pair leave, and as she stepped up to the register, and took her wallet out of her purse, she gazed into her daughter’s eyes. “Will you take care of me like that when I’m old?”

The girl didn’t miss a beat. “Nope,” she said. “It’s straight to the home for you.”

I suspected she was joking, but her mom didn’t laugh.

©2018 All Rights Reserved

 

8 thoughts on “The Home

    1. Barbara Froman says:

      Thank you, Nan. I sympathize. My sense of the interchange was that the girl was truly joking, but couldn’t understand how a joke like that could upset a parent. There’s no way a teenager could understand, unless they’ve spent a good deal of time around elderly people, and even then, their understanding would be minimal.

      I also think much of the problem with kids, even adult “kids” is that they have an unrealistic, idealized view of senior living facilities. They see the kind faces in ads, hear the sales pitches about activities and more on TV, and, with the best of intentions, buy into the images 100%. Unfortunately, I’ve seen the good and bad in these places, and have also seen how isolated people can become in them, despite the hype about “community.” When it comes to elder care, none of the decisions are easy, and none of the options are ideal. But we need more of them, and better ones, that’s for sure.

      Sending hugs.

      Like

  1. Ron. says:

    Different (ie male-ish) set of issues, but not an uncommon observation for this particular near-curmudgeonly linestander. I, however, being a childless curmudgeonly linestander, stand the line solo, thinking it’ll be straight to the home for me when the time comes (if it hasn’t already come & no one has been there to tell me).

    Salute, BF; this is a stunning write!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Barbara Froman says:

      It’s terribly difficult. I experienced that with both my parents and in-laws, all of whom had strikingly different sets of issues. Taking advantage of meal services, aides who came in daily to take care of daily living needs, shopping, etc., and those physicians who made house calls helped, but the day-to-day care still required a great deal of oversight to guard against abuse. The stress on family caregivers can be overwhelming. Sigh. The care and support systems everywhere are sorely lacking. Hang in there, dear friend. Sending hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

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