Thursday, January 19, 2012

Losin' It

There is a jar of peanut butter out on the counter, an opened loaf of bread spilling out of it's plastic and a butter knife nearby still sticking out of a jar of sugar-free jam. "It's go to be someone playing a joke on me," says mom. "Dad!" she yells toward the den, "at least put the stuff away when you make yourself a peanut buttter sandwich!" "Sure! I'd love one!" he yells back in return. He's hard of hearing. He's 87.
She shakes her head, "he's losin' it," she says outloud.

But she makes the sandwich anyway and takes it to him. he's doing church work on the computer. He's deciphering ancient records and so far this month, he's pulled out 80,000 names. "I'm cruisin!" he shouts as she enters the room with his sandwich. "Thanks!" he says as he takes his first bite. "I haven't had peanut butter for ages...mmm...thought I didn't like it, but this is pretty good." She cocks her head to one side, confused, and makes a mental note to buy more peanut butter. His tastes are changing - he doesn't even remember how much he hates peanut butter, she thinks. "Well, it's been nice knowin' ya," she thinks.

Still, he golfs every day without fail. He maintains the house, the yard and cars. He's 87. Just starting to "lose it" she thinks. So sad. Well, she knew the time would come eventually and here it is.

The next morning he wakes up at 6:30 in the morning to go play golf and there is that peanut butter jar out on the counter. Bread opened, knife in the jar. "She must have been too tired to put it away," he thinks, or even worse...I wonder if she's losin' it?" He shakes the thought out of his mind. She younger than I am. She must have just wanted a sandwich in the middle of the night. He looks down at his watch "Late!" he thinks and flies off for his 7am tee time with the boys. (They are all over 80).

Mom wakes up at 7. Down the stairs, knees cracking, hips aching. She rubs her eyes to the sight of the peanut butter mess, again, waiting for her. She's a meticulous housekeeper and there's no way she'll let Dad get away with it this time. She has always offered to get up and fix him eggs and juice before golf, but he's refused. "I've lived the last ten years of my life on toast for breakfast", he brags, "You don't need to suffer just because we like to golf before it gets too hot." And he means it.

She turns her back to go up the stairs, leaving the mess behind. Three steps up... four. No matter how hard she tries, she knows he won't be back for hours and what if someone comes by? She returns to the mess. She smells the jar, and remembers how much she hates peanut butter and if it weren't for her grown boys visiting, she wouldn't even have a jar. So she puts it all away, again.

Dad re-enters from his golf game, heads to the computer, Mom sitting nearby in her chair. Bill O'Reilly episodes from the DVR, which she just learned to use. She has a dachshund on her lap who looks up, wags his tail and goes back to sleep. She says "if you want a sandwich before golf, I'll make you one the night before and leave it in the fridge."

"Why would I want a sandwich at 6 o'clock in the morning? I had toast."

"Well you're really going through the peanut butter lately, I just thought..."

"Peanut butter? I don't even like peanut butter. The one you gave me yesterday was the first one I've had in 25 years."

We are listening intently now, laughing so hard tears are rolling down our face as she tells us the rest of the story.

"I was telling my friend about the peanut butter and she said "when you start taking Ambien?" and I said "about two weeks ago." Then she remembered the friend who told her about a woman that would run up and down the street in the middle of the night, ambivalent of her nakedness and resting peacefully thanks to her new prescription of Ambien. Horrifying.

It all made sense.

Well at least she was only making herself a peanut butter sandwich in the middle of the night. She thought the Ambien stories were folklore. "Well I'm grateful I wasn't running out into the street...." "The neighbors are too!" he says. Story over. At which she gathers our plates and exits into the kitchen. He slaps her on the hip as she passes him and she feigns embarrassment. We laugh again. The Spirit fills the room and he says aside to us "Thought she was losin' it! I don't know what I'd do without her."

A moment of filled silence washes over the room. I hope my relationship is half this strong in 40 years, I think. Then he's up and outta there. "Back to the computer! Gotta beat my record this month."