The Butter

When I visit my mom and dad it’s usually their choice to go out for lunch. I call them every day to check in and start the reminding process of what’s ahead on their schedule. If they hear it enough times there’s a better chance it could sink in. I let them know I’m coming days in advance so they aren’t caught off guard (they like to stay in their pjs and lounge unless there’s something going on… luckily mom has activities 3 days a week!).

As soon as I say I’m coming my dad immediately says “let’s go out for lunch”. My mom says “is Molly coming”. I say I can bring Molly (she likes to feed her) but then we have to eat in. I can’t expect Molly to ride in the car for 2 hours then wait in the car another hour while we eat. There’s a disconnect somewhere. Either dad has tuned moms comment and my answer out or he’s made up his mind already and moved on. Whatever the issue is all he knows is I’m coming and we are eating out.

When I arrive my mom asks where Molly is. I tell her it was dads decision to eat out. Now there’s a quandary. Mom accuses dad of being the reason Molly is absent. The most confusing (and hilarious) spat ensues. It’s over without resolve when dad declares we are going to Molly Blooms (a local pub) for lunch. Now I wonder when I call that dad is thinking food Molly (Blooms) rather than canine Molly. I will never know. My parents brains are firing at a whole new dimension and speed.

I don’t have the heart to tell dad that Molly Blooms is a rather depressing dark pub where tabletops are usually sticky and the smell of spilt beer is pervasive. Dad, I think, likes it for a few reasons: he’s familiar with it, they serve Guinness on tap, there’s TVs all over the place. When mom and dad go out alone I think he likes the tv entertainment. But I don’t like the parking and the stairs. Neither is suited to mobility challenged seniors. There’s so many other options.

So I convince dad that we should explore other options in town and find a few more favourites. Moms in favour of that. Dad agrees. He’s very agreeable when he’s hungry. I usually bring a bunch of stuff when I come. This time it was frozen dinners that I made, some homemade soup, crackers for mom (that dad can’t find anywhere driving my mom bonkers) and a tiny food chopper for dad. He thinks gadgets will improve his culinary prowess. Hmmm that’s Mr Frying Pan we’re talking about. We quickly put their haul away. Moms already firm that Frank will be eating soup when he arrives the next day. Dad is eager to go and eat.

I suggest Kelseys. Off we go to “the mall”. As we drive dad states that he’s never been there. Good I say; something new is nice for a change. I’m sure dad would like to debate that but he’s too hungry to bother. We pull up to the mall and are shocked to find that Kelseys is now Montana’s. And there’s a construction crew digging a new pad next door. Progress in the big city. We have to navigate the parking lot to find a spot close to the door. And we walk in. Mom comments on how wide and open it all is. I’ve never really stopped to consider accessibility to establishments but I’m starting to get it. Molly Blooms is very inaccessible in comparison. As we get out of the car mom tells us she had another mini stroke. I ask her what that feels like and she starts to explain that it’s a dizzy spell followed by a short time out where she’s not sure what happens. Dad quickly jumps in to say she should drink more water rather than wine. Case closed. Dads a bit of a bully. Plus he’s hangry.

We are greeted by a friendly hostess who sees mom with her cane in one hand and dad in the other. She immediately finds us a close by table rather than booth. And we’re near the windows. Nice and bright and spacious. We order drinks (mom chooses soda water) and I ask for a small garlic bread to take dads edge off. He loves it. And devours every greasy cheesy bite with relish.

Dad orders steak. Mom fish and chips. She’s got this thing about gravy lately. It’s a fixation. (“I’m not going back there because they didn’t give me gravy”). Yikes. Mom can eat. But her first mission is to examine her plate for what she can share. She starts to move her fries around and gather plates. Dads steak is obviously very tasty. But he stops mid bite to tell mom to stop messing around with her food. Admonished she stops and starts to eat. She steadily devours the fish leaving the fries she wanted to share. Then dad reminds her that there’s gravy. She starts eating the gravy with her fork. Then the fries get dunked. Yes. Good gravy. I’m not sure whether to burst out laughing or in tears. Moms brain has left the building.

Dad wishes he had room for dessert. He shouldn’t have eaten the garlic bread he tells me. Oops. His next statement could earn me some disdain: “I’m bringing Tina and Frank here. They will love it!” Sorry Teen.

We get back home to their place. Dad now is fully focused on a card game. He’s been super lucky lately and enjoying every winning second. Mom starts to putter in the kitchen. She’s annoyed that we’re full and she can’t serve anything. She rummages through the new goodies. Taking some kind of inventory. Then asks me to come into the kitchen. (She has very devious ways to disrupt our card games). She holding a plastic bread bag with two frozen pounds of butter. You have to take these home she says. Why? Because we haven’t eaten salted butter in years and your dad bought it by mistake. I say to leave it in the freezer for now. She’s not happy with that. She wants dad to know he bought the wrong butter. Now dad gets in on it; he’s not impressed with the inconvenience. After back and forth trying to reason he loses his temper and mom puts the butter in the freezer. “See how he is?”

We continue the card game. Dad loses. Thanks to mom he says. I have to go. It’s almost 4 pm. Then the phone rings. I jump up to answer. It’s Mr Deitering (their former neighbour who visits on Fridays) as I’m talking the phone dies. Dad says “what happened”. I say their here to visit but he hung up. Dad grabs the phone. It’s dead. As he’s pondering the dead phone, another phone rings. Dad enters the code to unlock the front door. It’s chaos and bedlam!

Stimulation overload. People coming. People going. Phones ringing.

I make a dash for the door before the visitors arrive. I’m already running late if I plan to drive home in daylight. I say bye at the door and make my way to the elevator with my vag of empty food and egg containers. When I realize moms behind me. Mom you have company coming you have to go back. She’s confused. All the activity has thrown her for a loop. I hug and kiss her and spin her around.

I think about their routine and their life as I drive home. It’s a beautiful dusk sky and the sun is shining brightly through cloud breaks creating an Easter card-like beaming sensation on the fall trees. The scene is breathtaking and ironic. A gorgeous ray of light casting its glow in a stream of clarity. I relate the vision to mom and dad. They spend their days in a routine and in between they have beaming rays of light. Memories. Funny moments. Good music.

I’m comforted that they have each other. My drive home is filled with reminiscing and gratefulness.

When I get home I’m greeted by Molly and Rudy and Otto. Good to be home.

I unpack my bag. I have the butter. Mom snuck it in my bag. I can only laugh out loud.

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