Mom Feels Great, but I'm Planning Her Funeral Anyway
I love my Mom. She’s 70-years old, and she’s the best mother in the world. When I was growing up, she fed me well, took care of me when I was sick, and paid for fourteen years of piano lessons.
Three years ago, when my father died, I started to think about her future. She was afraid to live by herself, and I knew she wouldn’t be happy in assisted living. So I asked her to move in with me -- and she liked the idea. She sold her house in Texas and came to Oklahoma. Pretty soon she was feeling right at home.
That was three years ago. Since then I’ve learned that living with Mom has its advantage and disadvantage. The advantage is that she is my Mom and she loves me very much. The disadvantage is that
SHE IS STARK RAVING MAD!!!!!
“Mad” is an old-fashioned term. Nowadays, people prefer precise terminology. So here's the exact diagnosis: imperious, angry control-freak with a god-complex. Mom has the imperiousness of Marie Antoinette, the ruthlessless of Madame DeFarge, the abrasiveness of Leona Helmsley and, on extremely rare occasions, the kindness of Mother Theresa.
Since Mom moved in with me, Mother Theresa has not made an appearance.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Steve is exaggerating.
No, I'm not. Here are some examples. When we eat out, Mom worries that I won’t eat my veggies, so even in the finest restaurant, she reaches across the table, grabs my dinner roll, and keeps it in her purse until I’ve eaten my peas. (Did I mention that I’m forty years old?)
Here’s another example. Mom used to work for Neiman-Marcus. She loves nice clothes. Neiman-Marcus doesn’t have a store in Oklahoma, so I take her to Dillard’s. And every time we go, it's the same story: She goes to the dress department, looks at the outfits and yells: “Who wears this crap? This merchandise is junk! This store is for hookers!”
She's done this so many times that, nowadays, when we walk into Dillard's, people flee to J C Penney.
But what really bugs me is that she complains from sunrise to sunset. It drives me nuts. I’ve confronted her about this, but she refuses to change.
So to preserve my sanity, I had to come up with a plan. And I did. I decided to do what any mature adult would do in my situation: create an imaginary world. All I had to do was to imagine a beautiful place every time Mom complained.
I tested my plan the next day. When I got home from work, Mom complained that the thermostat was set too low, so I closed my eyes and pictured the Pacific coast.
I felt better.
Later that evening, Mom complained that there wasn’t enough food in the fridge, so I closed my eyes and pictured the Swiss Alps.
Again I felt better.
Before going to bed, Mom complained that the house was dirty and the yard was a mess. I closed my eyes and pictured the cliffs of Dover.
Then for no reason, I pictured myself pushing Mom off the cliffs of Dover into the sea below.
The plan wasn't working. I needed another plan.
And it came to me quickly: Instead of imagining a beautiful place, I would imagine Mom’s funeral.
Now, before you accuse me of being cruel and heartless, you must understand something: My Mom does not fear death. In fact, she talks about her funeral every freakin’ day. Needless to say, she’s already planned the whole thing. She wants a beautiful Catholic Mass, hundreds of white roses, and a magnificent string quartet. (I'm sure she wants more, but she likes to reveal her plan in stages).
When Mom asked me to take her to Dillard’s the next day, I knew this was the perfect time to test my plan. As soon as we arrived, we went to the dress department, people fled, and Mom began trying on clothes.
After 1 ½ hours, she was still trying on clothes. I was tired and impatient, so I closed my eyes and imagined Mom’s funeral arrangement: a dozen carnations in a Baptist church with a bad organist.
I felt better.
At 2 hours, she was still trying on clothes. I was furious. I closed my eyes and imagined... six daisies in a Nazarene church with no music.
Again I felt better.
At 2 ½ hours, she had not finished shopping, so I closed my eyes and imagined... one daffodil with a Jehovah’s Witness in the front yard.
I felt great. But she was still shopping at 3 hours!
I closed my eyes ……….. and drew a blank. There was nothing worse than a Jehovah’s Witness funeral.
I was down to my last option: sending Mom to assisted living. I couldn't live with her anymore. I knew it would break her heart, but it had to be done. I decided to tell her that night.
When night came, I entered Mom’s bedroom.
“Mom, we have to talk,” I said.
“I’m tired,” she responded. “Here, take this.” She threw a small sack at me and pulled the covers over her head.
I opened the sack and looked inside. There I found an extremely rare recording of Sofronitsky playing Scriabin. For three years, I had searched for that CD. It was a collector’s item -- and it was impossible to find!
I was speechless.
“Mom!” I exclaimed, “How did you know about this CD?”
“You mentioned it a few years ago,” she said from under the covers.
“You still remember?” I asked.
“Of course I remember. I’m your mother.”
“How did you find it?” I asked.
“On the computer,” she replied.
“But you don’t use computers,” I argued.
“Mildred does,” she said.
“Mildred?” I asked. “She doesn’t have a computer.”
“I know. I let her use yours.”
“Mine!” I exclaimed. “When did she use my computer?”
“When we were at Dillard’s. I thought Mildred would never call and give me the signal to leave that god-forsaken store.”
I was stunned.
“What!” I exclaimed. “You mean the episode at Dillard’s was a ploy to buy me this CD?”
“Well, you didn't think I was going to buy their crappy clothes, did you?”
I stood in silent awe for what seemed an eternity.
Then softly I said, “Thanks, Mom,” but she was already asleep.
I went to my room, sat on the bed, and stared at the CD. I thought about all that Mom had done for me over forty years. I thought about her love, her patience, her devotion, and her sacrifice.
Then, I closed my eyes and imagined...
the Cathedral of Notre Dame
the Vienna Philharmonic
Nothing but the best for my Mom!