A Loco Viewpoint
Pushing Mom Around
One of my great joys in life is when I go for a walk with my 91 year-old Mom. Of course, she doesn’t walk; she just goes along for the ride in her wheelchair. My mother is a better fit for a walking partner than Cupcake because my dearly beloved tends to walk much more slowly than I do. When I’m on foot, I want to get somewhere, by gum, and dawdling is excruciating for me. As a result, going for a romantic walk with Cupcake involves a never ending, never-changing discussion about whether she should hurry up or I should slow down.
With Mom, however, I can go as fast as I can push her; well, within reason, of course. When her pure-white locks start flying in the breeze behind her and her plastic hair band flies off, I know I should throttle back a bit. Mostly, however, we just go at a nice steady pace. I would highly recommend the activity for those wanting to add resistance to their walking, and also work their upper body. We rent her out for a reasonable hourly rate for health nuts to push around town.
Getting ready for the walk is an adventure in itself. Once Mom assures me we are ready, we go through her checklist of rhetorical questions.
“Do I have my purse?” she’ll ask, whether I’m there or not. “Ah yes, are my sunglasses inside? What did I do with my scratch tickets? Which compartment is my wallet in?”
It doesn’t help that she has a purse that could carry all her stuff and an arctic sleeping bag. She loads it up with more supplies for a trip uptown, you’d think part of the journey involves scaling Everest.
Finally, after a few false starts (“Where’s me ‘at?”, she’ll say on the way out. She’s English, you know.), we head out to the sidewalk and begin a new adventure. Well, they’re a new adventure to Mom since her memory is not so good, so every sight is often fresh for her; not necessarily a bad thing. The point of our walks is to admire all the flowers that people have taken the time to nurture and we appreciate the effort folks have put into making their front yards attractive. We stop and discuss each floral arrangement, hanging basket array and landscaped yard we pass. When we see, albeit rarely, admittedly, a yard not quite as well tended as the others, Mom is always charitable.
“They probably both work,” she says. “And have little babies.”
She loves little babies. She gets so excited when we encounter tiny tots she goes into a chair dancing routine. It’s cuter than the little kiddies in my opinion. Close encounters of the baby kind give Mom such joy; I try to intersect with parents with strollers just to give Mom a thrill. Her wheelchair becomes some kind of baby-seeking missile searching out wee ones, so my mother can enthuse over how cute they are. I hope we don’t get a name around town as a couple of weirdoes.
There’s little chance of that, of course. We have become somewhat of a fixture around the community and everybody that sees us, waves. This is mostly because Mom waves at everybody first. Who among us is so hard-hearted they wouldn’t wave back? She took exceptional delight when I taught her how to pump her arm at passing semis, giving the internationally recognized signal for “Please honk your air horn!” So far, not one trucker has failed to sound his pipes at the sight of the tiny, frail woman pumping her arm at them with all her heart and might.
What is a road trip without a little element of danger? Luckily, Mom gets plenty of heart-stopping action every time we encounter a curb that isn’t handicap-friendly. (I must talk to the town about those.) The simple act of leaning her chair back to mount the eight-inch slab of concrete gets her gnarly, arthritis-twisted fingers white knuckling on the wheelchair handle like she’s mid-takeoff in a jumbo jet. (I am the “jumbo” part.)
No trip uptown would be complete without a stop at the drug store on our way to the restaurant for a nice cup of tea. The pharmacy staff bend over backwards to please Mom; carefully checking her tickets for her and join in the cheers at every “Woohoo!” that emanates from the lottery machine. This is despite the fact when her scratch tickets are more unprofitable than usual, she ‘fires’ whatever drug store clerks happen to be in the vicinity. Those poor ladies have been fired more often than those people on “The Apprentice”.
Having tea uptown is always a highlight for Mom. When her eight kids were growing up the luxury of a restaurant meal was almost unheard of. As she sips her tea, we talk about the things she remembers the best; back when she was a child in England, spunky and determined; a real tom-boy. She is still no shrinking violet as she will start a conversation with anybody. She must notice whoever talks to her, in the restaurant or on the street, they always smile widely.
When we get home from our walk, Mom is usually tired from all my exertion. A nap is just the thing to perk her up. She needs a lot of energy to scratch all those tickets, you know.
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