essays

Taking Mom For a Ride

seagullsI’ve discovered that my brother George does the “aging Mom thing” much better than I do. He’s very skillful. Could his gender also be helpful? Maybe. For instance, the daily routine includes several rides in the car to see what birds are doing what, how many swans we can find, the number of sea gulls (more at low tide than high tide), ducks and other shore birds we can spot. There are several places along Long Island Sound that we do this, and an interior pond or two. There are a bunch of key issues and obstacles to deal with, however, before we get on our merry way. His method works. Mine leaves me a quivering basket case.

First there is the double locking of the back door to the house—and where we hide the key (which requires bending over and placing the key in a magnetized box attached to a baseboard heater while Mom is hanging on to my arm for dear life, car keysher cane is between my legs, and I am juggling two purses, and whatever else is going our way. We can’t take the key with us because we’d lose it, and we can’t make an additional key for my key ring because it would require the key being out of the keybox for this to be accomplished. We can’t move the key to a different place because the people who know where it is wouldn’t find it, and the people who don’t know where it is would find it. If we haven’t both fallen down extricating the key from the box and replacing it (and we did take a tumble recently), we hobble out to the garage—usually over snow, ice or at least mud.

Now here’s the scene with George. At some point before the argument hits about whether he is driving his car or her car, George gets her car out of the garage. Mom doesn’t even know this critical step has taken place. Before the scene involving the back door, George says,“Mom, I think we better double lock the back door, don’t you? I’m going to take the key with me so I don’t have to bend over and risk us both falling down. Isn’t that a good idea?” Mom: grumble but no comment. George, “You won’t need to remind me ten times because I will remember to double lock the door.” Mom does remind him about the double locking a few times, but without further ado they hobble together out to the car. Mom slips smoothly into the passenger side, not into the mud.

This is how it goes when Lucy is driving. Mom, “GO!” Lucy, “Mom, you scare me half to death. I’m afraid I’ll go because you tell me to when I really ignition keyhave to look both ways to be safe.” Mom,“When I tell you to go, you go, because there is nothing coming.” Lucy is seething. So is Mom. Same scene with George. We are in the car and ready to go, but we haven’t yet started the car. George, “Mom,” “Yes, Puddin’” “I think it would be prudent of me to look both ways before entering the traffic, don’t you think that’s a good idea?” Mom: “I always look for you. I looked for your father.” George: “Yes, Mom, but don’t you think it’s a good idea if I also do the looking and make my own decision?” “Yes, darling. That’s certainly prudent.” Nobody is seething, and we’re on our way. So I have learned some very useful negotiating skills. I wonder if I can have the same happy results, or if it just works better because a man said so. We’ll see.

Lucy Noyes is co-founder of La Puerta Real Estate Services, LLC, 505-867-3388 outside Albuquerque, New Mexico and has a million stories in her head, just waiting to get out.

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