As I write this, a day late and a dollar short, Dad would have been 87 Friday. He passed away a month ago after a long decline. I took Mom to the doctor again Thursday–the eye doctor. The news is bad. The eye injections she’s been getting for over a year have for now miraculously arrested the macular degeneration which already took all but the peripheral vision in one eye. But apart from that, her vision has deteriorated to 20-70, and she was hoping a new prescription would bring it back to where she could still hope to drive again, but the doctor wouldn’t give her one, telling her the problem was her retinas. So she’s steeling herself to the prospect of going legally blind like her aunt Alice, saying, “I guess it’s a good thing I’m not a caregiver anymore.” She was glad for my company Thursday. I think I took it harder than she did.
This is a story I happened to record recently of a similar excursion from several months ago:
Taking Mom To The Bank
There was a security guard standing at the door of the bank. As my mother tottered up to the entrance clinging to my arm, the guard opened the door and held it for us like a doorman. As we came through the inner doors, an impeccably-dressed woman fairly leapt from her seat in the near cubicle and asked if she could help us. She seemed just a wee bit disappointed when she saw us determinedly making our way to the back of the bank. “Oh,” she answered her own question, “you’re going to the teller. Okay!”
As we made our way back, a male bank manager was standing in the entrance to his cubicle, smiling welcomingly in his snappy gray suit. I started to get a feeling like we were in a set from The Truman Show, or Dorothy entering the Emerald City. There were no other customers. Two young woman tellers stood at attention at the teller stations. One busied herself at her computer as the other said, beaming, “I can help you over here!”
I sat in an armchair underneath a big brushed-aluminum bank logo which looked down on me from the middle of an otherwise blank expanse of silvery flat latex. Adding to the other-worldliness was the Sixties Modern design of the space, with natty shades of silver-gray throughout, gently curving walls, a high, skylit ceiling, and the clean, undulating lines of the serpentine slate-gray Formica counters.
The conversation between my mother and the teller bounced off the high ceiling and reverberated around the open lobby. “You’re walking better today!” the teller said to my mother, who was recovering slowly from her second hip replacement. She was walking like she was in leg braces, but she was indeed getting along without her cane. She made a ten-minute to-do of depositing a small check and getting a certain amount of cash back.
We had come back from her doctor’s appointment and gotten her all the way home when she found the check in her mailbox and insisted I pull the car back out of the carport and take her straight to the bank. She explained that it was a check from Long Term Care and that Dad’s rent at the nursing home was $4900 a month.
As she spoke to the teller (it was impossible not to listen but I was trying not to home in on every word) I got the impression that the check was only a hundred-and-some dollars—a drop in the bucket. But it’s a sacred ritual. The check appears in the mailbox. It must go to the bank immediately. She must WALK IT IN—driving through is out of the question. Oh well. She’s almost eighty-seven years old. You have to make allowances.
Write a sketch about a minor incident that took on a surreal or other-worldly quality. Comment to this article with a link to your post.
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