Friday, 4 March 2011

Write On Cue Or If This Is Friday, I Must Be Confused

     It started as an 80th birthday present for our Mother. One sister in Edmonton paid for Mom's trip for a 2 week stay in New Zealand to visit our other sister. Mom would then fly to Hawaii for a week as a follow-up before heading back home.
     The rest of us siblings were a bit concerned as Mom was often losing her short term memory and we thought an 80 year old woman travelling by herself might be a bit risky. Our sister told us not to worry - Mom will be OK. She then thought it over however, and came up with the idea of giving Mom cue cards. These ‘recipe’ type cards would remind Mom of medication instructions as well as her travel arrangements such as ‘what’ day she will be in ‘which’ city.
     The first card read: ‘You will fly from Edmonton to Vancouver and Ric will meet you before you board the airplane to New Zealand.’
     I waited and wandered the airport looking for Mom. Thirty minutes went by after her plane landed and I was just about to have her paged when I heard a squeaky, little voice, “Ricky.” I turned around and there was Mom, looking like a bag lady. She was pulling her heavy suitcase, an oversized carry-on bag slung over her shoulder, her coat partially off her shoulders and dragging on the floor. A frazzled look showed on her aging face. And she had only been on the plane for an hour and 20 minutes! I thought, "What was she going to look like when she lands in New Zealand after being on the plane for 18 hours?"
     She showed me her cue cards and they were already mixed up. "I will have to put these in order," she mused as I held her arm while we walked to the next departure gate.
     I telephoned my sister in New Zealand a few days after Mom arrived to see how she fared on that leg of her trip. My sister said that after picking Mom up at the airport and while driving home, Mom asked 3 times, “Are we in New Zealand?” My sister said “Yes Mom, but you should check your cue cards to make sure.”
     During her stay in New Zealand, Mom frequently dropped or lost her cue cards throughout the house. My sister related that the new family card game was placing Mom's cue cards back into proper sequence.
     We started to get a bit worried. Although she was staying with friends in Hawaii, we wondered how she was going to survive the next leg of her journey. We didn't hear of any tragedies from her Hawaiin friends and so we thought so far, all is well.
     I met Mom at the Vancouver airport from her return stopover in Hawaii. Talk about frazzled! Pushing her luggage cart, this forlorn, little lady looked at me and said, “Ricky, where am I?” I said “Did you check your cue cards?” “Yes,” she said, “but I think I got them mixed up and I’m not quite sure I’m here.” “Don’t worry Mom” I said, “you’re just about home – hang in there.”
     I shouldn’t have worried about her age or her short term memory as she still had some semblance of keeping her youth. I noticed she was carrying an item wrapped in plastic which looked like an umbrella. She said it was a walking cane that she bought in New Zealand and that she had been telling everyone it was for her father, who by the way, had passed away 15 years prior. Her reply when I asked if she had been using it was “No!” I asked why she had bought it. “Well” she replied with a philosophical tone in her voice, “It might come in handy one day – when I’m old!”
     Asked if she enjoyed the trip overall, she replied “Yes. I have travelled all over the world and I think New Zealand has to be the most beautiful country.” I told her about my plans to go to New Zealand within the next few months and she told me with that proverbial, motherly advice, “Use cue cards Ricky. I wouldn’t have known where I would have been without them.”

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