After realizing that life here in the Southland was way too expensive (not to mention crowded and hot), I was in the middle of packing for a return to Montana when the roof fell in (see the last blog). At the same time, my 87 yr old mum had come to the realization that she could no longer ignore the fact that her back was a mess. Not only does she have a curvature of the spine, but she slipped and fell several times, several years ago and despite needing physical therapy for the cracks/breaks/muscle pulls from the falls, did not pursue it beyond the initial assessment at her doctor's office. She had lots of reasons, none of them very good, for why she didn't get help for her back, ranging from she was too busy to it was too far to drive. But eventually, years later, she has realized that the problem is not just going to go away on its own. She has gradually gone from sometimes using a cane to always using a cane and frankly, should probably be using a walker. With this new found realization of the joys of physical therapy looming, she asked if I would delay my return to Montana to help her out by moving in with her while she begins her treatments. And so I finished packing up my apartment, directed the movers to put my things in storage for 3 months, and moved into my mom's guest room, all the while thinking, this is not the best idea I have ever had.
You know those people who, from the moment you walk in to their house, just seem to have the knack for making you feel at home? That's not my mom. She has a knack for making you feel oddly unwelcome, even while she is smiling and inviting you in. She is one of those people who would give you the shirt off her back...and then remind you (often) that you were wearing her favorite, irreplaceable shirt that is very precious to her, but would refuse to take the darn thing back because it was probably stretched all out of shape and stained.
Sometimes the things she does, like reloading the dishwasher because the small saucers go on the right side, not the left, make me want to laugh. Sometimes, like when she digs thru the garbage and recycle bins in 100 degree weather to make sure I haven't thrown anything priceless away, they make me want to scream. I have rolled my eyes at her so many times over the past month that I am amazed they aren't permanently lodged sideways in their sockets.
Then one evening while I was multitasking, searching Craigslist for rentals while simultaneously rolling my eyes (no mean feat, that), something odd happened. My son turned to my mom and said, "When we move back to Montana, why don't you move with us?" I stared at him, too aghast for words, thinking (hoping) my mom would surely burst out with an emphatic NO, followed by "don't be ridiculous" and "Montana is too cold". Instead she looked pensive, intrigued and finally she said "How would that work?" And he proceeded to tell her, in great detail and with a lot of enthusiasm, just exactly how it would and could work. Before I knew it, the two of them were on the Missoula MLS site picking out potential houses she and I would buy together. I poured myself a big glass of wine, ready to jump in at an opportune moment to squash this nonsense.
Instead, I listened to my son explain about separation of space and full basements with outside entrances and double car garages and big decks with Montana sky views and found myself, if not totally in love with the idea, not totally hating it, either.
I poured another glass of wine and watched these two people, who I love dearly but who are sometimes so at odds with each other you imagine they will never speak civilized words again, sitting side by side at the kitchen counter, flipping thru pictures, oohing and aahing over this kitchen and that fireplace, debating the advantages of being in town vs slightly out of town, a small lot or room for a big garden. And I found myself wondering "How will this work"?