So I’m whiling away the time waiting to go to my mother’s 100th birthday celebration. I just called her on the telephone thinking I might get a few quotes from her about being 100. I’ve been so busy with my own work that I did not think to maybe write a story about the occasion for publication in the local newspaper, although I understand she was interviewed by a reporter recently — but I am the journalist (or at least former journalist) in the family — I might still write that story. But when I called her she said: “I’m talking to someone; could you call back?”
But anyway I can tell you it’s pretty incredible. I don’t think mom ever thought she would live this long. But it should not be surprising. She has always been active — not really one to just sit around. Nowadays she is frustrated because she is confined to getting around via a walker in the assisted care home in which she lives, sometimes sitting on the seat of the thing and propelling herself backwards (it’s a walker, but it has one of those fold-down seats). But she tells me the care home people or maybe some of the residents are not comfortable with her doing this. She also is frustrated because she has this tricycle that she rides outside but rode inside when the weather was bad. But now that the weather is iffy again, she has been told she is not to ride the thing inside. Also her eyesight is bad. To add further to her frustration, mom is, and always has been, keenly interested in current events. Her latest interest is environmentalism, although in general she has always been an environmentalist, but she has told me that what she “wants her children” to know is that “there is going to be a revolution”. I think she meant there is going to be (or should be) major changes in the way we look at the environment. She wants to save mother Earth. Having said all this, though, what I mean is that her frustration is that no one where she lives seems much interested in the world outside of their immediate domain. Some of this may be due to age and loss of full mental faculties, something mom has not seemed to have suffered from yet, except the expected slight loss of memory all of us suffer from time to time. Okay, she does seem a bit muddled from time to time — but she is still with it for the most part.
Another frustration — I’m writing a lot about frustration, sorry — is that she is by her own description proud to be a “bleeding heart liberal”. That does not seem to fit the politics, that there may be, among the folks with which she shares the dinner table, and it certainly does not fit the geographical area in which she lives.
You know mom lived through the Great Depression — a young married woman at the time. And she bristles when she hears people extol the virtues of those times — you know, times were hard and we were poor, but we were happy even so. Mom says there is nothing virtuous or good about being poor.
But get this — mom voted for Richard Nixon back in 1960, something she’d rather forget. You see, neither one of my folks were religious and I think like a lot of people at the time she was concerned that John Kennedy might be too attached to the Catholic church. In the end, I think, she was happy with Kennedy — I don’t know that for sure, but he more closely matched her politics.
I’ve blogged about this before (very little new under the sun with me), but I credit mom with my early interest in current events and the world around me. For some strange reason the family television was in the bedroom I shared with my next oldest brother for a time and it would be turned on to the early morning news program even before I got out of bed. I once wrote in an application essay for a college graduate program that I was probably the only second-grader up on the Suez Crisis. I was accepted into the program, but I declined. I showed them, I became a truck driver instead.
Even though I recall my mom taking naps when I was at home with her, being the baby in the family (she has four children), I also recall that she was always busy the rest of the day. She cleaned house, prepared three meals a day, tended a flower garden around our house, did the grocery shopping and took care of our pet dog and so much more.
On the weekends if we were not taking a family drive, something she always encouraged dad to takes us on, she was outside raking leaves or pulling weeds or such.
Even today, although confined to a walker, she eschews non-physical movement. She said she has no use for a motorized scooter.
I also think mom has for the most part eaten healthy food, most of which she used to prepare herself, making most meals from scratch, as they used to say, with often a serving of fresh vegetables. Dad used to raise a vegetable garden when we had the space.
Strangely enough, mom used to smoke. And I recall that she smoked unfiltered Lucy Strike cigarettes when I was a little boy and then moved on to still unfiltered (not that filters were of any use) Pall Malls. But at some point she came to the conclusion that smoking was nonsense, so she quit cold turkey and never looked back.
But again, mom’s current kick is saving mother Earth. And I think that is worthwhile.