Mrs.E loved to tell everyone she had teeth. Then she would point to a little stand in her kitchen and say, “They’re right over there.” In four years, I never saw them in her mouth. She also had glasses she never wore. I had been coming to her house for a year or so, and one day, I saw she was wearing her glasses. When I asked her why, she told me that she was going to get her eyes checked the next week, so she thought she should wear the glasses for a few days. She seemed to be able to see okay without them, so I asked her why she needed glasses. She said, “Because I see double.” I said “So all this time that you haven’t been wearing your glasses you’ve been seeing 2 of everything?” She said, “Yes, double.” I noticed she took them off before the day was over. She informed me that she was used to going without them, so she wasn’t going to wear them anymore. As far as I can remember, I don’t think she ever went back to the eye doctor.
She told me she didn’t like to put her false teeth in, because she always bit her tongue. The problem was not her chewing. She could eat almost anything. I just had to learn to understand “Mrs. E speak.” I hadn’t quite figured it all out when one day, she asked me to bake her a strawberry cake. It was her favorite. I made a layer cake, and had a difficult time getting the two cakes to come out of the pans.She didn’t have any nonstick spray, so I used oil and a little flour. Some of the cake still stuck to the pans.
Several days later we were making a grocery list and she said to write down Pam. Sometimes I ran by the store on the way to her house and picked up breakfast items she needed, but her daughter did most of the shopping. As it happened, we both bought Pam. The next day, her daughter stopped by on her way to work and as we were talking, Mrs. E wheeled over and was staring into the refrigerator. She said, “I wish somebody would get me some Pam.” Her daughter and I both said, “What do you mean? You’ve got 2 cans on the counter.”Mrs. E. looked at the cans and said, “Well, I don’t even know what that is.” We finally figured out she wanted Spam, and she wanted the kind with hot peppers in it. I wish I had a dollar for every fried Spam, egg, and cheese sandwich with mayo I made for her. She could eat spicy foods that would’ve made smoke come out my ears and I would have had to eat Tums for a week. She thought I was a weeny and told me hot stuff made ya strong!
She also loved cheeseburgers, and like me, she would rather have a good fast food cheeseburger and fries than what you make at home. She wanted everything on it plus jalapeño peppers. I only worked from 8-12 in the mornings, but that was fine. She ate them for breakfast. I had to go to Whataburger, because that was the only place that served them at 7:30 in the morning. Whataburger makes a good burger anyway.
One Friday morning I decided to surprise Mrs. E with a burger and fries. When I got to her house, it didn’t take me long to figure out, it was going to be one of her cantankerous days. When she heard me come in, she hollered from her bed, “Don’t you even talk to me about a bath today, because I’m not taking one! I might not even get dressed!” I hollered back. “Okay, Mrs. E, but if you change your mind, there’s a Whataburger and fries out here for you.”
Pretty soon, I could hear her mumbling around in there. I knew I had two things going for me. She wanted that cheeseburger, and she did not like to stay in bed. She also knew that I would give the burger to her even if she refused a bath. I coerced her sometimes, but I never bribed her. There’s a subtle difference. Finally, she yelled, “I guess I’ll get up!” I went in there and proceeded to help her get into her chair. She could do it on her own, but it was easier for her if I helped. I didn’t say anything about the bath. She begrudgingly said, “Well, I guess I’ll eat that cheeseburger before I take my bath.”
She was beyond stubborn, but she was nobody’s fool either. I will say this. She was a woman of her word. She sometimes regretted it something awful, but if she made a deal with you, she always kept her promise. As a negotiator, she usually had me beat six ways from Sunday, and she loved it.
She had good hearing, but if you weren’t around her a lot, she was hard to understand sometimes. This was especially the case on the phone. She occasionally asked me questions about my old man. That’s what she called anyone’s husband. One morning we were going through our routine, and I said, “If we’re going to sit out on the porch, we’d better hurry. It might rain.” Mrs. E said, “Oh yeah, that’s what your old man said.” I didn’t pay much attention, and pretty soon she said, “He’s got a real nice voice.” I said, “Who does?” She said, “Your old man. I called him when you were driving over here.” I had taped my number by her phone, and she had decided to give Kip a call. Every couple of weeks, she would call him and ask for me knowing full well I was driving to her house. If he was home, they would chat for a bit while she waited for me to get to her house. She always told me about their nice talk.
Mrs. E. Had one of those lifeline pendants, and she wasn’t afraid to use it. She liked to sit out on her front porch and watch the hummingbirds come to the feeder. I sat in a little folding lawn chair and she of course was in her wheel chair. When we came in, I folded up my chair and stuck it behind the door. One day, I got to her house and she said, “I had to push my button last night.” (She wasn’t looking at me, so I knew whatever she was about to tell me wasn’t going to be good.) Apparently, she had been looking out her door and when she got turned around the door swung shut and the chair fell down. In the process of leaning over to set it back up against the wall, the chair somehow got caught in the wheel of her chair. She said she drug that lawn chair all over the house and it wouldn’t come off.
Mrs. E’s daughter and her husband lived just across the street, but they had gone to Church. Rather than wait just a few minutes for them to return, Mrs. E decided to push her button and get someone over there to get her unhooked. Her daughter told me when they got home, the paramedics, a firetruck, a neighbor and a grandson, were at her Mother’s house. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but she had just gotten in trouble the week before for pushing her button for a non emergency. I’ll save that story for later, because it’s a doozie.
What a character. I think God brought the two of us together, because he figured I had gained some knowledge and experience growing up with a Mom who in temperament, was Mrs. E ” like.” Just maybe, I could hold my own…well maybe some of the time anyway.