Ma never learned to drive which is why I inherited the job of going to the pharmacy to get the latest scheduled pick-up of any of her eight medicines. It also meant that I got the honor of taking her shopping on designated days.
Dad drove until his eightieth birthday on which as he got out of the car and walked up the stairs into the house, managed to fall down and break both ankles. He came back to the scene of the crime maybe three times in the course of the next six years and nine months as he spent the rest of it in a twenty-four hour care facility.
This is not to say that my older sister does not help out. Today she called me from her cell phone while she was sitting in her parked car waiting for Ma twenty minutes after the designated time Ma said she would be outside of the store done with her shopping. Needless to say, I had to hold the earphone three feet away as she was shouting and swearing at me for not being the chauffeur. She does take Ma at least once a month or whenever appropriate to get her hair done.
Ma used to go to a fancy hair stylist but then when you live on social security you tend to give up certain accouterments. Last year, I was able to procure tickets to a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field. We were in a good mood because the bums won that day and doubly blessed when we exited the park. Someone was handing out coupons for a cut rate (pun intended) priced hair salon called Super Cuts. You rubbed a coin on it to find out the hidden value of the discount for their service. I tossed my coupon into the garbage can along the curb at Sheffield Avenue as we headed back to the elevated trains. Ma handed me hers and I thought she wanted me to toss it in the can, too, which I did.
She started yelling at me, â€œwhatcha do that for?â€
I said, â€œdidn’t you want me to toss it?â€
She said, â€œNo, you idiot! I go to Super Cuts.â€
I said, â€œsince when?â€ and she explained that she started going there once my sister started taking her there. It was only twelve dollars instead of twenty or more at the old fashioned beauty salon.
Then, she said, â€œGo get it.â€ She wanted me to put my hand into the garbage can and find her coupon- the one I tossed. I saw one hanging against the inner top rim of the can and since it wasn’t rubbed, I figured it was good enough. I rubbed it and low and behold, it read, â€œfifty percent off.â€ So, not only did she get a free ticket to a Cubs victory, but five and a half bucks off her next haircut. Couldn’t top that!
I’m also expected to bring to her the free cup of coffee coupon from Dunkin Donuts that you can win at Chicago Bulls games. Not for her, but to give to her next door neighbor who also gets the privilege to take her shopping.
Last week Ma told me she did something bold, not in her character. When she went to vote in the mayoral election, she asked someone if they were going in a certain direction and if they were, could they take her and drop her off so she could go to the bakery. And the person did.
As the bakery was four blocks from home, I asked her if she walked home. â€œNope,â€ I waited until someone else was waited on after me and asked them if they were heading back in my direction. They were, so I hitched a ride with them.â€
So, if you should see a lady of a certain vintage lifting her ankle length dress trying to draw your attention along the curb, that’s my Ma. She only needs to go a few blocks. Thanks.