Finding any excuse for laughter with y 94-year-old mom

5 years ago

There are few things these days that make my mother laugh. 

 Very few.

 We used to laugh all the time. Before the aches and pains of her aging body consumed all of her laughing energy. Before just having to get up from a chair and trek to the bathroom on her walker takes all her focus.  She can cuss her body, and exclaim, “I  don’t do anything fun anymore. I never have any fun!”

 Fun could mean just that, a good laugh. The giggling silly laughter of when you might trail toilet paper out from a bathroom in a swanky restaurant. The laughter we revisited Christmas shopping at T.J. Maxx when I couldn’t resist this:

She laughed and laughed and laughed.

 “What is that?”

 “It’s for dog poop.” 

 I explained how the cute little plastic imitation bone thing that’s now conveniently clipped to Toby’s leash...

 ... holds a roll of biodegradable doggy poop bags. So wherever I am I can scoop the poop!

 Since her balance isn’t so great, I was glad she was supported by the shopping cart; she would have fallen over from laughing. “You’re kidding!” she screeched.

 Fellow shoppers looked up, diverted from their furrow-browed-Christmas-shopping deliberations of shaving and barbecue kits, to glance at this shrunken 94 -year-old woman laughing her head off.

 “You have to buy that kind of thing now?” She asked, her eyes tearing up from the hilarity of it all. 

The way she’d laughed when her grandsons first showed up at her house with their new Nintendo DSs and promptly sat on her couch for a quick electronic fix . “What’s with all these little gadget things? Everyone’s always looking down at their little screens.”

 At 94, you can have good points. Probably a better poits than the rest of us who are buying poop bags and little gadgets and even when walking our dogs, don’t think to look up very much, because we might be on our gadgety phones while scooping the poop.

 But I can be the typical daughter who even at 49 can be the rebellious teenager.

 “They’re biodegradable. And it’s on sale,” I retorted defensively, with a slight teenage whine.

My mother had to take a closer look. “And hearts! They have hearts on them!”

 Ok, maybe these were for a girl dog. But they didn’t have any non-heart ones. At least they were purple, not pink. I didn’t think out mini male poodle pup would notice...

 “Use a paper bag for heaven’s sake,” she said, collecting herself to move on. She was starting to tire, especially from all the laughing, and still had to deliberate over wrapping paper. “If you have to pick up the stuff, just use a paper bag!” 

 I could have taken this further, about how poop can carry bacteria and paper bags weren’t as sanitary etc. I don’t like feeling foolish around my mother. But an older person certainly can be the wiser, having lived a lot longer. And from their perspective, spending even a dollar on a dog poop bag must seem... well  foolish.

 But I’m not a teenager. I’m a middle-aged daughter to a very elderly mom and I was truthfully reveling in her own laughter. We were ourselves again the way we used to be. When going Christmas shopping together and deliberating over the perfect gifts for her grandsons was fun. Not a duty. Not an outing that would entirely sap her energy for the rest of the day. 

So every time I scoop the poop I hear my mother laugh, and there’s my own giggle, an echo, deep within. As if I’m already remembering her. And the laughter we had shared.

What we both didn’t know was that these damn heart bags are actually scented. The sickly sweet scent of  Love’s Baby Soft that I’d wear – as a teenager.

Now I’m the one to laugh and laugh and laugh.

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