Airstreams are for Mother-in-Laws? (Part two)
Some of my close friends accuse me of having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, for the simple reason that I like things very organized and preferably perfectly matched. I don’t see the problem with that. If there isn’t a complete set of something, I don’t want them. You will not find a miscellaneous shot glass or an odd logo’d coffee mug at my house. My toiletries are color coordinated and are lined up in a perfect row in the bathroom cabinet, above the perfectly matched, perfectly folded bath towels in a complete set of 8. I still don’t see a problem.
I don’t know anything about the origins of O.C.D. I don’t think you acquire the disorder from your parents. If anything, I’d say you acquire it in spite of them. My mother has so much miscellaneous, mismatched, useless stuff that she has accumulated over her 80+ years. She has china cabinets stuffed full of random wine glasses (no two alike) that allow you the choice of infinite shapes and sizes, decanting wine by increments of 1/4 ounce. Her strategy for coaxing the Publishers Clearing House folks into awarding her, “The Super Prize”, by making hundreds of meaningless purchases, didn’t help matters either. Why does a person need multiple clocks and multiple outdoor thermometers in every room of the house, when the said person doesn’t have an agenda and doesn’t go outdoors? This could have been one source of my alleged O.C.D. I curse the late Ed McMahon.
Like most adults, I try to blame all of my hang-ups on my parents; but I have to come to terms with the fact that my mother is in her eighties and she needs me. She may not think she needs me (since her mother lived to be 103) but the signs are all there. She lives a long distance away in upstate New York, and independent living is quickly coming to an end. Brian, being Brian, thinks that the the proper solution is to move her to Arizona with us.
Breath, Brenda…. how did I end up with this noble, caring guy, anyhow?
After seeing the panic on my face, Brian suggests housing her in an Airstream. A large Airstream out in our yard. She will live with us, but not exactly. I say that it hasn’t been exactly that long since we got all the kids out! He tells me to sleep on it.
In the meantime, Brian begins the search for a large Airstream that will be a permanent home, minus 487 thousand useless Ed McMahon items. He thinks that a trailer around 35 feet will be good. I think, “how can I hide 35 feet of aluminum behind desert brush?”
After sleeping long and hard, part of me still fears I will regret it– the added responsibility, the lack of privacy, 35 feet of aluminum lawn art. But the largest part of me knows that I will regret it if I don’t. At age 83, my days of spending time with my mother are short. If she lives to be 103 like her mother — well it will be 20 short-ish years.
My first conversation about the Airstream idea with my mother goes something like this:
“Will all of my furniture fit?
“No, Mother. The Airstream will have all the furniture you need.”
“But I’ve had my furniture for so many years.”
“All the more reasons to get rid of it, Mom.”
“But I like my bed”
“Mother, you have a King-size bed. Why does a 90 pound, 4′-10″ person need a King-size bed anyway?
“Then I will put it in storage.”
“Why, Mom? So we can drive over to storage and look at it?”
Caring for an elderly parent takes a unique kind of stress management. Pressure from work and finances can be subdued with a long massage, a yoga class, or in extreme cases– a shot or two of tequila. The stress dealing with an 83 year old mother requires an enormous amount of patience, and tequila will only make navigating the Airstream steps more dangerous for both of us. I’m going to be doing a lot of “Down Dogs”.
So after many, many more conversations with my mother about what stuff can come and what stuff must go, it looks like this is really going to become a reality. Brian is narrowing his search for the perfect trailer and 35 feet looks like it will still accommodate plenty of mismatched, miscellaneous, useless stuff.
This Christmas instead of singing, “Grandma got run over by a reindeer, walking home from our house Christmas Eve,” we’ll be singing:
“Grandma is living in an Airstream, parked out in our yard under a tree.”