Sure, I was being careful. Instead of two big helpings of my favorite foods, I had two smaller ones—or one big one. I tried to cut back on fried but that proved to be extremely difficult. I did love my fried potatoes and onions. And fried pies. And fried egg sandwiches when I fell off the vegan wagon. We were past the season for fried green tomatoes and fried okra (after all, it was late fall of 2004) so they were no temptation.
I’d discovered Niedlov’s baked goods. Their Wholely Whole Wheat bread, toasted, smeared with mashed up avocado was wonderful. Then there was the bread from the bakery at (who knew?) Wally World. It was a sourdough-type with whole cloves of roasted garlic all through it. It was especially good fried in coconut oil.
One afternoon when I got home from work, I was sitting at my computer checking my email. It was aggravating how long it took since I was on dialup and that added to the stress I already felt. Suddenly, there was pain in my chest that went into my neck and then radiated into my jaws. I started breathing deeply and stretched as tall as I could while still sitting down. I willed myself through it and gradually it subsided. No way was I going to go to the ER. If I’d just had a “heart episode” it wouldn’t show up on an EKG, anyway, since it was already over.
Since I had dialup, I also had Callwave. When I was online, if there was a call coming in, Callwave would answer it. I could call the person back or ignore it if I chose. It worked out wonderfully well for Mother because she could leave a message and I’d call her on my dime. Her messages were quite entertaining. Talking to her was an adventure because she couldn’t hear well and I’d have to repeat things over and over. She had hearing aids but she’d take the one out of her “phone ear” because it would whistle if anything got too close.
Mother did so want to go back to her home on the mountain. She started having flights of fancy and tell me she was going to buy the house. There was no use arguing with her so I went along with the plan. She’d say, “Oh, if only Tom hadn’t died!” (Tom was my father.) She was 100 so he would have been 111 had he lived. She chose to ignore it when I’d point out that fact. Occasionally, I’d get a letter from her and the handwriting that had once been so firm showed her age. Her eyesight was failing in spite of her lens implants so my brother-in-law gave her a pen with a broad tip so she could see what she was writing.
She was still living alone with considerable support from family members. My sister who lived just down the driveway from her would make sure she had her daily medications (which were numerous). My other NC sister and her husband would go see her as often as they could and my brother-in-law would do minor repairs. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren would drop in, too. There was little time for her to feel lonely or ignored. It couldn’t be denied though, that Mother’s health was failing. She had enough to be concerned about without knowing what I was going through so I never mentioned it. Lately, much of what I said didn’t register with her, anyway. It was like she was in her own world.
I was in my own world, too, and I had no idea what might happen next.