The other week, my wife went shopping for her mother, my mother-in-law Gooma. She’s eighty-nine and doesn’t drive anymore, and doesn’t much care for being pushed through aisles in her portable wheelchair. Oh, she’ll join her daughters, granddaughters, and great granddaughter for a girls’ day out, but shopping for groceries is no longer fun when she can’t do it by herself.
Now others do it for her, and I actually had a turn, but it was a comedy of texting for me. My copy of the list said, “Milk and Bread, her kind.” So I text my wife, “What kind is hers?” She text back, “Two percent, but that other brand.” I took pictures with my phone and sent them to her. She responded with, “The brand in the middle of the second picture.” Next I asked what is her kind of bread? “The same as our but not butter.” I sent snapshots and she text me “The one in the left of the first picture.” And it went on and on, cereal, cottage cheese, butter, doughnuts. Obviously my wife knew what everything looked like, but didn’t know all the brands or specific versions by name. I refuse to do that again. Shopping for food is now her and her sister’s responsibility.
So my wife went shopping, but forgot that she’d put two items in the back seat of our SUV. All the others were behind the hatch, and those are what she brought in to her mother’s house. Two days later I picked Gooma up for an appointment. (I still take her to appointments, and I’ve complained/recommended she get one of those handicap signs that you hang on the rearview mirror so whoever is driving her can park close to the entrance instead of eight to twelve spaces away. She can keep it in her purse.) She can’t get in the small, low sedan, so my wife and I swapped cars. But I, too, forgot there were items in the back seat, and so they remained there.
The following weekend Gooma needed more milk or something, and this time, after I pestered my wife about it, she remembered the forgotten items, and so finally my mother-in-law got her twelve pack of toilet paper and box of Tide. But while there my wife facetimed me with news that her mother’s garage door had broken, wouldn’t go down all the way. The next day I drove there with Senor Cargador, and we found that the bracket holding the left spring had ripped from the ceiling. Couldn’t fix it then, but we did unhook the opener and drop the door closed. And before we left, she complained that she could no longer open her bottle of mouthwash. She’d tried and tried to squeeze those two smooth areas on the side of the lid, but she couldn’t do it. I opened it and told her not to fully close it again.
During the next week I went to a real hardware store, Crowder’s, and bought four three-inch lag bolts, which I call nut-head screws, and loaded my tool bag with everything I might need, including my manual hand crank drill, in case my battery and electric drills weren’t hefty enough. The original two nut-heads were only one and half inches long, and shame on the company who installed it! And I also examined my own bottle of mouthwash, which has often stymied me with its press and twist puzzle. I found that all I had to do was cut off two little tabs along the rim, and the cap came off without extra effort. Unexpected simple solution.
A few days later, Senor Cargador and I went back to reattach the bracket with four nut-heads, but first, it turned out, we broke the thing even more. We had to lift the door up in order to unhook the spring, but when we did the horizontal track that was loose from the ceiling swung out, and four rollers, two from each side, dropped onto the floor. The only way to put them back in with the door upright was to unscrew the hinges. That took a while!
But now Gooma can automatically open her garage door again so the driver of that scifi robotic truck can climb down and help her pull her big blue can out. Thank you.
And I fixed Gooma’s mouthwash cap. She buys a small bottle, so I expect I’ll have to go over for that at least twice a month, and it’s a long drive. I recommend stores provide a shelf with elderly-friendly products. But not the top shelf.