Today I am grateful for mercy. Himself and I picked my mom up at 10:30 yesterday morning for a full day of shopping, lunch and more shopping. Save me now, I thought, knowing that I am not the “shopping” daughter. I’m more the “foolishness” one.
She is waiting for us at the door, Himself helps her get in the car, loads her walker, then runs in to pee. I relay the intended schedule to her so that she knows how far this little excursion is going and tell her to pace herself. . .or confess when she’s had enough. But it’s shopping so that enough thing probably won’t happen.
You see mom is virtually blind from macular degeneration. When the geezer compound she lives in sends a bus of the little darlings to shop someplace, it must be like trying to herd kittens on their first taste of catnip. I’m sure they glom onto a riding cart and take off like cockroaches when you turn on the light, each glad to be off on their own. Except when mom is off on her own she can’t tell what in the hell she’s looking at. And it frustrates her. So not only am I going to be her wheels, I’m going to be her eyes. . .and comedy relief. . .too.
Before Himself can even get his seatbelt on, she is shoving a hearing aid at him over the front seat. “Here, John,” she says. “Fix this damned thing for me. I think it needs a new battery.” He jostles around as I begin to drive. Mom is yammering like a magpie about how they don’t consider people with vision problems when they make those hearing aids batteries so small. I wonder how she’d like carrying a car battery around to make them work, but I shut up as she’s tossing the other one back to him.
Empowered with one hearing aid inserted, she says, “Hey, Mary!” I’m trying to drive the car and already frustrated even though we are less than three blocks from her place. “Yes, Mommie Dearest,” I say, affectionately. “Tell me what this Halloween shirt says, I can’t READ the damned thing but I know it says something cute.” Mom LOVES Halloween!
“Here’s your hearing aid!” Himself says. She says, “Thank you Sonny-Boy, now what does this Halloween shirt say?” she’s poking at my arm just as the cop turns on his lights behind me, indicating I should pull over. Swell. I tell everyone in the car to just shut up while I deal with being stopped by the cop. Myself!
“What?” Mom yells. “Why are we stopped? I thought we were going shopping? Why did you stop?”
“I got stopped by a cop, mom. I had to stop,” I tell her, wishing I carried duct tape in my purse. “Please, just be quiet.”
Himself is enjoying the show from the back seat. “Didja run a stop sign?” He asks. “Were you speeding?” What fun he was having.
“I don’t know, but for the love of all things holy would everyone just shut up!” I say as the cop approaches the car.
“Hello, Ma’am,” he is very nice. “I stopped you for speeding.”
“Really?” I give him my best smile and license. “Was I going over 30? It didn’t seem like I was going over 30.”
“I wouldn’t have stopped if you if you hadn’t been.” I don’t think he gives a shit about the smile and asks for the registration, too. As I lean over to get it from the glove box my mom says, loud, “What are you doing? Now what? What is that?”
“I’m giving him the registration mom,” I say through clenched teeth, then turned to the cop and say, “It wasn’t my fault. It was these two driving me crazy!!!”
“It’s always the passengers fault,” he smiles.
“Maybe not always,” I say. “But this time for sure. I’m trying to drive the car and I’ve got my mom here pulling on her orange Halloween shirt asking me a hundred times what it says because she’s blind and can’t read it. And she’s tossing her hearing aids over the seat in a huff at my husband so he can put batteries in them and that was only a few blocks ago! They are already making me crazy and we just started out.”
“What does the shirt say?” the cop asks, making me wonder if I’m being punked.
“I don’t know because I was driving the car and couldn’t read it at the same time!” I say like the good little citizen I am. He laughs. He doesn’t want to, but he does.
“I’m going to give you a warning,” he says. “It won’t affect your insurance or cost you points, but I want you to slow down.” Right. Slow down. I shoulda thought of that a little sooner.
“I’d be happy to, officer,” I lie. “Tell these two!” He goes off to run a check to see if I’m a felon (not yet) or had outstanding warrants (also not yet) and tells me it will take a while because I’m from out of state. As he’s walking away my mom says, “Is he cute? Waddya think? Is he cute?” I’m betting he heard her.
“Just let me see that damned shirt,” I say to her, yanking on the aforementioned T-shirt that nearly cost me a ticket.
When the cop returns and hands me my paperwork, repeating the bit about points and insurance, I say, “Thanks. And guess what?” He looks confused. A lot of people look confused around me. “The shirt has a picture of a witch on it and says. . .‘If the broom fits! Ride it!’ . . .Tell THAT to your family when they ask you how your day went!”
The Cottage Grove cop had mercy. My never-ending penance is having Himself loudly announce every single speed limit from now until the end of time! “It’s a 25 zone. Now it’s 35. Speed limit is 50, now 45, now 25, now 35. . .it’s changing up there to 15 for the school zone. . .” Oh he is enjoying this. No mercy there! Where’s a broom when you need one?