Sometimes it takes a minute to figure out what you're looking at.
We flew to Illinois and drove mom's car while we were there moving her things. She had bought a new Honda Accord in 2004 and now, in 2014, it had about 50,000 miles on it and was in perfect shape. Perfect except for the bamboo that had grown up through the bottom of the car to the grill and the dozens of hard candies and cough drops that had been dropped and forgotten over what looked like years. It looked like the car had produced spores.
We will never know the story behind those candies but what was happening to them now was damn interesting. They had all faded to a weird pale yellowy-beige and had become cemented to the upholstery, carpet, and plastic parts of the car. But, only on the driver’s side. The ones on the plastic parts had melted a little, and sat in their own little hardened puddle. I don’t get how she could have let so many of them drop and then never pick them up. My pre-dementia mom would never allow me to drink water in her car, let alone eat candy. Everything always, always, always had to be picked up and in its place in the house, my room, the garage, the yard. What has to happen to no longer give a crap about dropping candy day after day?
I started to take a picture but didn’t. As funny as it looked – and yes, we still laugh about it - when I took a step back it became incredibly sad. No denying it now. If we were looking for one more sign things had taken a hard turn, this was it.
When we finally got the car to Oklahoma I took it to get detailed. I barely had it parked before I jumped out of the car and shut the door so I could explain to the detailer what was going on in there and explain that it wasn’t me who did it. As if he cared. He was kind but definitely unimpressed. I don’t even think he really listened to what I was saying; most people bring in their car for full detailing because it’s time or something has gone awry. I’m sure he’s seen it all before. Until this. He opened the door to take a look at what I was telling him I didn’t do. As soon as he took in the whole mess he said, “what in the hell?” What in the hell, indeed.
Back to moving. Mom’s belongings were headed for a storage unit in Oklahoma City and now we had to get her there. To preserve what was left of my sanity and patience (yep - me, me, me again), we had decided against the nine-hour drive and went for the one-hour flight. In the past few months, Mom had developed a NEED to go to the restroom every 30 minutes or less. Even her friends thought it was weird. And when she had to go, it became a THING. If we had driven the 9 hours home to Oklahoma one of us would have ended up on the side of the road. It would probably have been me. No, let's leave probably out. By a unanimous vote, it would have been me.
The best way I can describe it is to have you imagine a tornado that is growing and gaining power. Now, imagine that tornado condensing and becoming more concentrated and more powerful until it is taking up the tiniest amount of space yet filling the room. That’s what it felt like to be in the room with her when she became hyper-focused. I could feel a buzzing in my head. To make it even more challenging, she refused to wear disposable underwear and the wheelchair along with her bandaged leg made going to the bathroom a major production and a fall risk. I made sure we visited every available restroom until the moment we had to board the airplane.
We all made it to Oklahoma without any incidents. Another small miracle. Our son picked us up at the airport and we were on our way to her new home.