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By: IONE L. (zaneygraylady)   + 85 more  
Date Submitted: 12/5/2007
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs » Memoirs
Words: 796

I had finally convinced my mother to stop driving by promising her that I would be available to take her out to lunch and to run errands at least once a week. I was the only daughter in town so most of the responsibility for her care fell on me. It wasnít so bad because she was in a very nice senior housing center with assisted living and a nursing home attached in case she would ever need it.

It was no sacrifice for me. I really enjoyed our time together. On Mondays we usually went to Cracker Barrel for lunch and to the grocery store. I also took her wherever else she wanted to go.

As the years went by shopping with her became more difficult. For example the day I took her to buy some new bras. I took her to Pennyís and dropped her off in the lingerie department then went to an adjacent department to look around. I wasnít gone very long but when I returned my mother was out in the open trying on bras over her clothes. The sales clerk was tactfully trying to encourage her to use the dressing room. It was obvious that I would have to stay right with her from then on.

One Christmas as usual I had to help her shop for presents. We had a large family and my mother bought presents for everyone. Money was not a problem but my motherís judgment was not always very good as far as gifts were concerned even when her mind was all right. One year as a newly wed I received pink and white checked pajamas complete with the feet attached. My sisters got similar pajamas. Another year she got each person a tongue scraper as a gag. She didnít tell us what it was so we all had fun guessing. She got the idea from a professor from India who was boarding with her. We all got a good laugh from it. She told us in India they really do use them. Another year she wrapped up things she didnít want anymore. She didnít put names on them and we each got to pick one gift. Exchanges were allowed if we could find anyone willing to trade. My gift was a dud but my son Eli got an antique pitcher that he traded to me. I gave it back to him the first Christmas after he got married.

My mother had allotted ten dollars for each person. With eight kids including all the in-laws and grandkids there were a lot of gifts to buy. I suggested that she buy a nice box of candy for each family or take us all out to a restaurant but she wouldnít hear of it. Still, she could find reasonable gifts for ten dollars. The problem was that she wanted to go to the dollar store and buy everyone ten presents. Hard as I tried, I could not talk her out of it. This was going to be a long afternoon.

At the dollar store she picked up one gaudy decoration and useless item after another as I tried to steer her to things people would actually use. It occurred to me that everyone runs out of tape and has trouble finding the scissors so I suggested those and other practical things to her. We also picked up gift bags to put all the loot into so I wouldnít have to help her wrap over two hundred presents. The grandkids werenít so hard to buy for. Kids can always use new crayons and paper. Also they donít know if something is gaudy and can find a use for everything.

We spent a good part of the afternoon shopping at the dollar store. Finally we got the cart loaded up and checked everyoneís name off the list. She spent over two hundred dollars but at least I saved everyone from getting a bag of gaudy junk. We got back to her place and put all the items in the bags.

My mother handed out the gifts at my annual family Christmas party. The dollar store gifts were the hit of the party. Iím sure glad she didnít take my suggestion to buy each family a box of candy. That was the last Christmas she was able to buy us gifts. The next year she was in the nursing home and didnít know it was Christmas or even who we were.

What I thought was a difficult day back then is now a special memory to me. I only wish that I had let her buy us all at least one gaudy decoration as a memento of that day.

The Eclectic Pen » All Stories by IONE L. (zaneygraylady)

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Comments 1 to 9 of 9
Nicole G. (AbookWormAtHeart) - 12/5/2007 9:02 PM ET
this story is really cute and beautiful. you are a special person and remind me i should spend more time with my grandma. No matter how difficult the old may get, we don't want to one day regret that we didn't spend enough time with them. Thank you for this story, makes me want to give my grandma a big hug right now!
Silvercat - - 12/6/2007 7:32 AM ET
Very nice, Ione. 'Tis the season....isn't it? And when you think about it, she gave you the best present ever....the time she spent with you. :) Merry Christmas to you and your family!
Kate O. (BookWormElite) - 12/18/2007 8:51 AM ET
This story brought tears to my eyes. for me, the holidays are a bittersweet time. Some mornings I sit next to my Christmas tree and close my eyes, imagining that the loved ones that were lost over time were sitting there with me. Your Grandmother was a very fortunate woman to have someone so special care for her and give her the guidance that she may not think she needed. I always say to live life with no regrets, in the end you were there when it mattered most. On a lighter note, my husband NEVER lets me go into the dollar store unsupervised :) I hope that every time you open a gift that doesn't seem quite right, that you can put a smile on your face and have a fond memory of the time you spent with your Grandmother. Rest assured that there is a Greater Good watching over all of us and you are a messenger. God Bless and have a wonderful Christmas.
Gail S. (agility4me) - 12/22/2007 6:57 AM ET
Ok, this one hits home. The one thing my Mom likes to do is to shop and she counts on me to be the one since my Dad is a lousy shopper. Always making her hurry and not letting her look at things or watch the people and talk to them is his style. Mine is to let her shop till she can't go anymore. I think tomorrow, I need to go and get her and take her to one of our favorite places, the dollar store! Thanks for the smile...Merry Christmas to you!
Mary (BookLady) - - 12/27/2007 2:53 PM ET
Thanks for sharing your memories.
Margaret S. (mzakzoe) - 12/27/2007 9:25 PM ET
I love it. I can relate to the author and her trials and the fun she shared. A real message is in there too
Margaret S. (mzakzoe) - 12/27/2007 9:26 PM ET
I love it. I can relate to the author and her trials and the fun she shared. A real message is in there too
Cordelia - 12/28/2007 8:02 PM ET
Thanks for sharing. I work in a nursing home-Medical Records- but I do many other things like pass lunch trays. etc. I see so many of our residents that have no family or anyone to visit them. I'm glad that you will always have this special memory. Our memories, love for each other and the things that we can't buy are the real treasures. I cannot count the times I've brought someone their lunch tray and they have asked me to stay or just wanted to chat for a little while...
Kathleen J. (cozyreader) - 12/28/2007 8:02 PM ET
Thanks for the story. I am caring for a mom with Alzheimers now. It's funny, but she is actually easier to be with than she used to be. I, too, am the only one in the family near enough to look after her. It's difficult sometimes, but my family does enjoy her and she enjoys her time with us. I would never take her to the dollar store though.
Comments 1 to 9 of 9