I have been amusing myself lately writing about the eccentricities of my parents, Ev and Walt. They were healthy in mind and body into their nineties and lived independently near us in Florida. The chapters I have been working on will become part of my manuscript titled something like, A HANDBOOK TO OUTLAST YOUR ELDERLY PARENTS.
Most recently I have been describing the ritual my mother performed every night before going to bed. She would first change into a tee shirt and then flannel pajamas, in case she got cold under the a.c. Then my father would rub BenGay on her back under her tee, where she suffered from a bulging disc. The smell would permeate the house for days! By the time she entered the bathroom, my father, already in his flannel pajamas, had removed his hearing aids (if he'd worn them!), inserted a rubber wedge between his big toe and the next one, and was snoring on his back with his mouth open.
Once in the bathroom, my mother would sit to let her noontime Metamucil wafer perform its advertised function. This would often be a slow, unhurried process, accompanied by a crossword puzzle book. Thereafter, she would brush her teeth, smear Oil of Olay over her face, and wind a few strands of auburn hair under bobby pins. No need to set the alarm. There was no reason to get up at any particular time! Bottles of vitamins on the kitchen counter awaited morning consumption next to a cereal bowl, cup and spoon reserved for instant Maxwell House, and a plate for toast.
I have become "My Mother, Myself!" But my bedtime ritual produces a different image. Charley and I enter the bedroom together. He has earlier brushed his teeth and flossed, while I was scrubbing the pots and pans in the kitchen. He takes off his clothes, throws on an old tee shirt with his shorts, and sets the alarm. I am lucky if I have even put away my shoes, earrings, and watch, while he turns out his bedside lamp. I finish changing into my pajamas by the light in the bathroom. I used to wear sexy lace babydolls, but that was twenty years ago. I graduated to full-length lacy nightgowns, but that was ten years ago. Now I wear flannel pajamas as a courtesy to my legs, that twitch or cramp after lengthy tennis matches.
In the bathroom, I rub ointment on my rotator cuff. I take my vitamins at night - better absorption, the doctor said. I reach for my three containers of "C," "D," and a multi, then my soy supplement, my cholesterol pill, my calcium, my fish oil. I hear Charley's rhythmic deep breathing coming from the bed. I hate how he can fall asleep so fast! How do men do that? I still have nine steps before I hit the mattress.
I must use water to transform yellow fiber powder into a thick, cold liquid that I can barely swallow. A rinse of antiseptic follows brushing and flossing - I don't know why I bother with the antiseptic, since the only person who might smell my breath is sound asleep! But the dentist told me to.
Next I insert a clear plastic appliance in my mouth that will keep my jaw from grinding at night and ridges from forming in my teeth. I wash my makeup off with an exfoliant for my clogged pores and carefully wipe eye liner off with astringent pads. I smear green goop that promises miracles under my eyes, around my mouth, and across my forehead. A topcoat of polish goes on my nails. God, that stuff stinks! Almost finished!
I reach into the bottom of the closet and grab the contoured foam pillow that I will position between my legs, if my dislocated disc acts up. I turn out the bathroom light and creep to my nightstand in the dark. There, I grab two wrist braces for my carpal tunnel - one for each hand. The android is ready for bed!
Charley feels my weight tilt the mattress and rolls over to give me a good-night kiss, a token to our yesterdays. "I guess we won't be having spontaneous sex tonight," he mumbles.
- Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
- Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in teaching, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with advanced degree from R.I. School of Design. Published first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Her humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. See website By CLICKING HERE.