I’m blessed (as a writer, anyway) to have a family filled with colorful characters. My mother-in-law, Althea, is a perfect example. We joke that she never had a thought in her head that didn’t come out of her mouth. But, I always know where I stand with her and I love her very much.
One of my favorite stories about Althea happened on a holiday at my house. I was giving thanks for how well we all got along even though we had such a diverse group.
“We have people that are old and young, black and white. We have democrats and republicans, gay people and straight people…”
“Wait one minute,” Althea shouted from the back of the group.
Everyone froze – except the gay couple who were inching their way toward the exit.
“I want to know which one of you is a democrat!” she demanded.
That would be me, by the way, but I have decided to stay safely in the closet.
Since then, Althea’s had a stroke and is living in an assisted living facility near us. I can only imagine how difficult it is for someone as independent as my mother-in-law to be told when to wake up, when to eat, when to shower.
I went to visit her earlier this week and arrived at shower time. As the nurse was undressing her, Althea asked that the nurse scratch her back.
“I’ll do it when you get in the shower.”
As Althea inched her walker from the bed toward the bathroom she asked again. “Scratch my back?”
“When you get in the shower,” the nurse repeated.
Althea made it to the entrance of the shower and stopped.
“Scratch my back,” she demanded.
“I told you, I’d do it when you got in the shower. Now please, just get in and sit down.”
Althea looked the nurse right in the eye and said, “I’ll get in the shower when you scratch my back.”
The two adversaries stood glaring at each other. Finally the nurse reached out and scratched Althea’s back.
Score: Naked Old Lady-1/Nurse-0
I’m hoping I’ll be half as strong-willed as she is when I’m 87. How about you?