My mother had an uncanny way of coming out with the most alarming things to say. They were things that would stop you dead in your tracks and make you listen. One of her famous opening lines was this, "When I get old......." Now this is not something a child really wants to hear coming from a parent's mouth because these are the three words that would come to my mind and hang gloomily over my head after she would speak: OLD, DEAD, ORPHAN. I have to say that Mom said this so often that I eventually got used to it and stopped sniffling every time I'd hear the familiar opening phrase. What usually followed the first four words was this: "......when the time comes, I don't want you to feel guilty about having to put me in a nursing home if I need to be in one ."
When Mom first entered Barclay, she had a little bit of trouble adjusting to the fact that this was her new home...for good. I would often visit her and at some point during the visit she would tell me to start packing her things because she was ready to leave now. Oh how painful this was for me to hear. I would take a deep breath and look her in the eye and repeat the phrase that she so often had said to me. Once I was finished, she would look at me and nod and that would be the end of it for that particular visit. This went on for about a year until finally she stopped. It was never easy to tell her that she was staying, but I took comfort in her lingering words ..." don't feel guilty...." I had to keep reminding myself that these were her words and I know she meant it. As shocking as it was to hear when I was younger, I am grateful now for her foresight.
I too have an uncanny way of blurting out things to my children to make them stop dead in their tracks. Unlike my mother, I have a more impish way about me and enjoy tormenting my kids whenever possible. So my opening phrase sounds more like this, "When I die...." Unfortunately, I don't have the same idea as my mother did about releasing my kids from the guilty feelings of having to put me in a nursing home. Instead, I am secretly hoping, that when the time comes, I will have to move in with my middle daughter who just so happens to be named Martha. This is strictly to repay her for all the annoying teenager-y-ness that she has put me through lately. I am also secretly hoping that during this time of feeding and diapering me, her ailing mother (while simultaneously adoring me and telling me how right I was), she will be raising triplet teenage girls! The rest of my phrase is this: "...... I want you to spread my ashes in a beautiful garden." I then go on to remind them not to throw them (me) into the wind because then they will get a mouthful of ashes (me) and that would not be so pleasant. However ridiculous this sounds, I am actually very serious and I think they know this.
As usual, my mother had incredible, unselfish foresight for which I am eternally grateful. Maybe someday when I settle down and stop tormenting my children I will follow in her unselfish behavior but right now I am having waaaaaaaaaaaaaay to much fun!