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Sunday, August 14, 2016


The event of the week was supposed to be my niece's 'baby shower', on Sunday, which was to be held at the venue where Richard and Steph were married, four years ago.  I had, very sensibly, printed out the map, with written directions, before I left Austin and, very sensibly, put it in a safe place.  Not only was it a 'safe place', but it was an obvious place, a place where I would have to look before going to the event!

My only task on Sunday morning, was to vacuum the bungalow, and clear up after a late breakfast.  Elise was arriving at two, with her daughter-in-law, and granddaughter, and I was going to be chauffeur, in my rather swish black Volkswagen.  However, she arrived at midday, together with the latter, and her son and grandson.  My mum was, of course, delighted, to have a little extra time with the great grandchildren, and whilst I got myself ready, dressing in my beautiful 'posh frock', they busied themselves making sticky marks on my mother's furniture. (My father was a stickler for NOT letting the kids in the lounge before they had been thoroughly scrubbed, and the joke was, "Have you wiped your hands?" and the response was "Yes, all over your furniture!")  Mum was oblivious to the mess that they created, as unlike the grandchildren before them, e.g. their parents, they were 'kids having fun'!

The pictures that I was meant to take had also been put in a safe place.  So safe that I could not find them.  Samantha had selected two photographs, of her and me as babies, and I had promised that I would take them to the shower.  After searching my room, I eventually found them in my 'carry on' bag, in their protective folder, and put them with the presents that had been put by the front door, so as not to forget them.  We forgot them!  Fortunately, my sister commented, as we headed out, that she had not bought a present, but as the mother of the mum to be, she did not see the necessity.  I turned the car around and we headed back to the house.  

We did arrive at the venue in plenty of time. I was made aware that there was a 'disabled' space by the front door, and the 'blue badge' was placed upon the dashboard.  However, the front door was not where we were to enter, and we had to walk along the cobbled path to the 'other' entrance, where we were ushered into the room where we had eaten breakfast, some four years ago! The tables looked beautiful, and the three tier cake plates were brought out, containing delicious delicacies, including scones, pastries and sandwiches.  Tea and coffee pots were placed next to the delicate tea cups, and we all proceeded to have a good time.  Photographs were produced, and Emma had to guess 'who was who'.  I rescued my folder from the gift bag, and opened it to release the pictures. 
There, in the 'safe place', were the driving instructions to the venue! I knew I had put them somewhere safe!  

Arriving home, I looked up the driving instructions to my friends Judy and David, and wrote them down in my 'map book'.  Mum was pottering in the kitchen, and quite insistent that she take the empty tins to the recycling bin, refusing my offer of help.  I decided to get changed.  All of a sudden, I heard a 'whoa', and 'Tracie, I've done it again!'  I rushed out of my room, and found my mother, horizontally on the path. She had put her face down to save her hands, and blood covered her nose, lips and chin.  Although I was no longer a 'first aider', as I had not renewed by training in about fourteen years, I was amazed at how it all came flowing back.  Assess the situation.  This helped me calm down, and I told her to stay on the floor, while I got some tissues.  She was a little battered, but able to move. "Can we help you?", came a voice from the path.  I was crouched down next to my mother, and turned to see two men, one perhaps father to the other, looking over the garden wall. I assured him that we were okay, and that there appeared to be nothing broken.  Once again, he asked if I was sure, and once again I said I was.  I helped mum to her feet, by lifting her from behind, and then we went inside. As I straightened up, I realised that when I ran out in response to the scream, my dress was unzipped past the waist, and when I was crouching down, the two men who were kind enough to offer assistance, had full view of my underwear!  It then occurred to me that, perhaps, they had assumed that my mother was trying to 'run away', and tripped in the process!  The thought made us both laugh.  However, the seriousness of the injuries needed to be assessed, and after calling my sister, I took mum to the Emergency Room.  

Driving to the hospital for the second time in one week should have been straightforward.  However, the main road upon which the hospital stands, was closed.  "Follow the diversion", was very clearly marked, and I did as I was instructed.  Of course, it was rather naive of me to think that the diversion signs would continue to the hospital.  As the signs disappeared, we drove deeper and deeper into the wild depths of Watford.  Mum was not distressed, but she was rather concerned that we would not be able to get to the casualty unit.  However, we had her 'blue badge', and should we finally get into the facility, we would not have a problem parking. My memory was still in tact, and like the first aid training, the knowledge of the back streets of Watford was still fairly good.  I drove around up and down the narrow roads, and finally we arrived at our destination.  It would appear that a 'disabled' badge allows parking anywhere.  My mother was adamant.  "You can park here. I have my badge!" mum repeated when I said there was no where to drop her, and leave the car.  Red lines, yellow lines, middle of the road, up a tree.  If you have a 'blue badge', the sky is the limit!  I met my mother 'half way', and stopped outside the Accident and Emergency Unit, but told her to wait while I found someone to take her in.  The first nurse I approached, outside the unit, was very pleasant.  She stood and smiled at me, as I explained my predicament, and then when I looked at her for an answer, as to whether she was able to escort my elderly, frail mother, she smiled even wider.  "Well", I said, expectantly.  "I am new here", she said in broken English, and then pointed to a small door that she was moving towards, and shrugged her shoulders.  As soon as the second nurse smiled, I knew she was going to the same place, and understood not a word i was saying!  My confidence started to wain!  I walked my mum to the department, keeping one eye on the car, that was effectively parked in the middle of the road, in a red box, (there were no trees,) and when I had made sure she was 'safe', I found a more appropriate place to put the vehicle!  

Our trip was very quick.  The triage nurse called us within ten minutes, and asked a variety of questions. I sat quietly and let mum do the talking.  She responded to each of the queries with the correct answer, and then added a list of miscellaneous tidbits, which were irrelevant.  I tried to tell her that the nurse only wanted to know about the most recent fall, but she was adamant.  I would imagine that the nurse, and his colleagues, are used to such behaviour, but it must have been a long day for the one interviewing mum, as his patience was running a little thin. After checking her 'vitals', and looking rather surprised that she knew the medical term for almost all that he performed,  we were ushered back into the main waiting room, where we sat for another ten minutes.   A man, without a white coat, hopped into the waiting area, looked around, and then pointed in my direction.  "Come", he said, extended his index finger and motioned for me to go with him. I looked around, and then back at him.  "Me?", I said, wondering why as I was not a patient. "Yes, yes.  Come", he said again, beckoning me with his index finger. I got up, as did my mother, just in time to see him hop back around the corner, and disappear like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland.  We walked along the corridor, and could not find the hopping man, but were ushered by another nurse into the casualty ward.  "This way", came the voice, and the Lewis Carroll character popped up again.  "I wanted to see how you walked", he explained. "I put one foot in front of the other", I said, wondering why on earth he should need to see how I walked.  Of course, it was then that I realised he meant my mother! He had assessed her ability to move, and was quite satisfied that she had not suffered any breakages as a result of her fall.  She then completed some exercises that would challenge the American gold medalists gymnasts!   She offered the same miscellaneous monologue to him, but although he had much more patience, he ignored most of it.  As another nurse came to clean the wounds, Steph called and I was in a four way conversation including Elise and Emma.  We discussed her condition, and I said I would call when I returned home. With nothing broken, and the lacerations considered minor, we were able to leave within less than an hour of arriving.  

The trip home was a lot easier than the one there!  I exited the hospital and negotiated the back streets with ease.  I had cancelled my evening plans, and despite protests that I was not hungry, I was made to eat a plate of good old fashioned English beans on toast, with an egg for good measure. 

Monday was an unplanned day.  I decided to stay with mum all day, firstly to give her some confidence to go out, and also because we also both needed things at the supermarket. The 'blue badge' was placed on the dashboard once again, and this time I was in charge.  There would be no parking in the store!  We stopped on the way back, and walked through the village to the bank.  Along the way, we were greeted by someone I thought that I recognised, but as we got closer, I saw it was not whom I thought it was, despite having said quite eagerly, "Hi, how are you?".  My response to his question regarding my mother's injuries was that she had fallen off her bike, and he was very shocked.  "Really?" he said.  "No!", I replied.  Mum did recognise him and started to chat.  It appears he was the owner of the fruiterer, and he gifted my bruised mother a bag of cherries.  It seemed to lift her spirits quite substantially. I drove over to Steph in the afternoon, (having removed the 'blue badge' from my car,) and played with Ollie until Richard got home. There is something very satisfying about seeing my son relate to his son, when Oliver shouted, "It's Daddy!".  

It was a rare treat Tuesday, when I was picked up at 11:30 am, by Beverly and Jodi.  The three of us went out for lunch, and then back to Bev's for tea.  When Jodi offered to drive me home, I had to laugh, as I still think of the girls as little ones!  

I have permission to report that the scan for the new baby went well!  Steph is expecting to make me a grandma again next year, and I had the honour of watching my grandson while she and Rick went to the hospital.  I had warned them of the diversion, apparently caused by a 'sink hole', and they left earlier than they would have if all was expecting to be plain sailing.  I was commanded by Ollie to join him in the garden, and we played a variety of games in his tent.  Being five foot two I often refer to myself as height challenged, but for the first time in a long time, I was too tall!  A workout at the gym is almost equivalent to a stroll in the park, in comparison to playing with a two year old!  With all being well, Rick and Steph returned, to relieve me of grandma duty, and we all went out to the mall.  Lunch was rather delicious, if somewhat expensive for me!  Much as I do not begrudge taking my kids out for a meal, the cost is double what it would be in Austin, pounds for dollars, which makes it about three times more expensive in 'real money'. However, as it did not put me in debt, I was happy to treat them.  

I had to be home by 6:30pm, to have dinner.  It is a good thing that my mother lives in a bungalow (one storey) as I have a feeling I would constantly be on the 'naughty step'.  Arriving at 6:25pm, I came in bearing gifts from Costco, but these were ignored by the fact that I had only five minutes to sit down!  Mum had been to a surprise brunch for a friend earlier in the day, and I had called under the pretense of letting her know I would be home for dinner. In fact, I was making sure she was back safely, and reported the same to my sister, who did not want mum to think she was 'checking up' on her, despite our need to do so!  We spent the evening dozing in front of the television.

As a parent, it is also satisfying when your adult child buys you a cup of coffee, and asks if you would like anything for breakfast. The child to whom I used to respond "How much", when he would ask, "Mum, could you do me a favour?", is now self-sufficient.  I know that most are, but I just keep thinking I must have done something right!  We roamed a different mall and headed back to Costco to buy some lunch.  Richard and I ordered an ice-cream as well as hot dogs and pizza, and ate half of it before arriving back to have 'mains', What a bad example to set my son!

"I told you I had arrangements", is also something that seems to slip past my mother's audible memory.  I had arranged to see my friend Lesley on Thursday evening, an appointment I had made prior to coming to Blighty!  I had laid the foundations and prepared the path virtually since I had booked the flight.  "The 11th.  I am out on the 11th!"  After being told not to make 'too many arrangements', as I would be tired (nothing like making me old before my time!) I thought it necessary to repeat the fact at intervals.  However, upon my arrival home, just before midnight, I was ordered to take a chicken out of the freezer, which is housed in my bedroom, for dinner on Friday night, which would on the table at 6:30!  I obeyed meekly, resigning myself to the fact that the naughty step could be transformed into any area in the bungalow!

The evening with Lesley and Sheri was lovely.  We chatted, laughed, sighed, almost cried a couple of times, and enjoyed dinner. As always, it was like we had only seen each other last week, and we vowed to 'do it again' when I returned home for my winter fortnight!

Friday and Saturday seemed to merge into one day.  The new bed does not yet suit my grandson, despite being lovingly made by his dad on Friday.  However, he sits upon it crying, and does not either realise, or dare, to get off once put down for a nap.  My cousin Lesley was having a manicure when I arrived on Saturday, and I then joined her for a visit to my uncle and aunt in the afternoon, before I headed back to babysit.  Oliver screamed intermittently for about half an hour, and once he realised that no one was coming to rescue him from this unacceptable sleeping contraption, he laid himself down and went to sleep.  About ninety minutes later, and of course just as I had prepared myself something to eat, he woke, and started the cycle again.  It would have been rather nice to pick him up and give him a cuddle, but I remembered how his father was when he was first put into a 'big boy' bed, and how I would have been rather perturbed at having my mother cater to his whim!  He settled down, and fell asleep again, with his feet facing the pillow.  

Once again. Sunday is upon us.  Lunch was with my sister, Elise, and her man, David.  Steph and Oliver came for a while, and I was given a tour of my father's dilapidated greenhouse by my grandson. How my dad would have loved to have Ollie join him when gardening.  Arrangements were made for a re-run of what should have been last Sunday evening.  An actual re-run has been prohibited, as I have told my mother that I am not taking another trip to the hospital, despite her owning a 'blue badge'!  I am looking forward to spending an evening with some more 'old' friends, and then I shall start the countdown to the trip home.  Dana is eager to spend some time away from the office, and he thinks my return will allow him to do so!  We shall see!  I am anticipating a nice quiet weekend next weekend, perhaps feet up by the pool, with my book, and a glass of iced tea.  I don't need a 'blue bagde' to park myself there!  However, time will tell, and I shall make all known in .......... another story!

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