Strange, I never called her “Mommy”. She was always Mother. Never Mama, Ma, or Mom. Her mother wanted my sisters and me to call her “Mama” because she thought Grandmother or Grandma sounded too old so Mother was always Mother. Once, someone came to the door (this was before my time) and asked one of my sisters if her mother was home. She said, “No, but my mama is.” It could be a little confusing to strangers. My grandmother died when I was 13 months old so I never had a chance to call her anything much.
My former boss (FB) had opened a new shop when the building her old one was in was torn down. There were two steps down from a landing that was street level. Mother had been visiting with her (they’d gotten to be very close and were neighbors out here on the mountain) and was talking and backing toward the door. She miscalculated where she was and backed into the step and lost her balance. She wound up on the floor. My FB was alarmed and wanted to call an ambulance but Mother wouldn’t hear of it. She was okay. She just needed to go home and rest.
FB helped her to the car and she drove herself home. In the night, she had to get up and go to the bathroom and was unable to get off the commode. She managed to roll off onto the floor and scoot into the bedroom where the phone was. She called my sister in North Carolina who set out to rescue her. When she got there the next morning, she loaded her into her car and took her to NC where she was hospitalized with her fractured femur.
She had surgery to put the bones back together and went to rehab, but it wasn’t successful. The blood supply had been cut off for too long and the head of the femur “died”. The next step (no pun intended) was a total hip replacement.
No run-of-the-mill orthopedic surgeon would do for my mother. My BIL in the Great Northwest made arrangements for her to come out there and one of the best in the country was to do the surgery. She flew out by herself and got the royal treatment, wheelchairs and all.
Her surgery went well and she was in rehab for several weeks. During that time, the lilac bush beside the back door bloomed like there was no tomorrow. I took DD out and we picked a huge bouquet of the budded branches. Those were wrapped with wet paper towels and put in plastic bags that were then blown up and fastened to protect the contents. Everything was put into a box and sent priority mail to Mother. She took a picture of the arrangement (with her trusty Polaroid camera) and sent it to me. They made it there in good shape and perfumed the room for several days. She did love lilacs. And, yes, I made the sunbonnet.
We were still on our 95% vegan regimen. It was the longest we’d been able to maintain anything of the sort. I was getting better at making edible dishes and there were actually some favorites that came out of the experience. It appears that mush and beans was the lunch here. The boys didn’t like it but evidently DD did. This picture was taken in July ’79. The weather was warm and that was in our favor. She would wear nothing but a diaper to the table and when the meal was over, I’d carry her at arms’ length to the bathroom where she’d be hosed off in the tub. The things festooning her face and body were alfalfa sprouts. I had a whole series of these pictures but this is the only one I can locate tonight.
After Mother was “sprung” from rehab, she went to my sister’s place for a number of weeks. I had another sister between that one and me, geographically speaking. Her house was the next stop. She stayed there until March.
The day before I was supposed to go get her, DS1 had jumped off the stage in the gym, landed on someone’s gym clothes, slid down and broke his wrist. He was in the hospital awaiting surgery.
I set out in the Peugeot. By this time, DH had realized his dream of owning a 4 wheel drive pickup. It was a yellow Toyota DS2 promptly named “Bandit”. It was an uneventful trip to my sister’s house. We visited for an hour or two, then put Mother’s things in the trunk and took off for the wilds of Nebraska. The Weather Guessers had been predicting a 40% chance of snow. There wasn’t to be any accumulation to speak of.
We stopped in Sterling and ate pizza (didn’t I say we were 95% vegan?), then headed back out on the road. It started spitting snow. I wasn’t worried. I was driving along and the road was fine. Mother was talking and telling me all about her hip, the months between, and all that had happened to her. She was quite a story-teller.
Crossing into Nebraska, we hit I-80 and it started snowing hard. It was warm enough that it was slush on the highway. We were tooling along and the windshield wipers were doing a good job of keeping the snow away so I could see. It was getting dark and there was moderate traffic but we were moving.
We made it to Ogallala where DS1 was in the hospital. I stopped, briefly, to check on him. (Mother elected to stay in the car because she was afraid of slipping in the snow and falling.) He’d had his surgery and the surgeon (the same one who did my bandaid surgery) was staying by to make sure he was okay. DS1 was on the phone with DS2 and when DH found out I was there, he told me to call when we got to Paxton, the town 10 miles North of where we lived.
It was slow going because we were on a two-lane highway but we got to Paxton okay. One of the most interesting places in town was Garnet’s Cheetah Cafe. I talked Mother into going in with me to see the place and meet the owner. Garnet was a short stocky lady. She always wore unusual outfits and kept her hair dyed jet black and teased into a huge bouffant. I never saw her without makeup and long fake eyelashes. Her cafe reflected her personality. She was honored to meet my mother and we sat at the huge round table in the front of the room and had hot chocolate. I used her phone to call DH.
He said, “You head South and I’ll head North and I’ll find you.” I thought, “Okay. You’re the man and the head of the household but I can drive in this stuff. It’s no big deal.” We got back in the car and turned South. We made it over the Interstate and were about 50 feet on down the road when my mother asked, “What are those bumps in the road?” I answered, “Mother, those aren’t bumps. They’re drifts.” I speeded up but it was no use. The car plowed into the snow and stopped. I put it in reverse, backed up, and tried it again. Nothing. We moved a few feet and that was it. I rocked it back and forth. Mother yelled, “We are going to go off the road!” Zero good it did. We were stuck. We weren’t going anywhere.