I went to take my mom to get a flu shot today, and she was not on her best behavior. When I opened my car door in her condo’s parking lot, I saw a banana peel at my feet. I’m not usually superstitious, but sometimes you have to admit that symbolism can appear at the oddest of places. It was like a portend of doom from the universe, but what could it mean? Hmm…. banana peels underfoot… slipping and falling… my mother. Turn back! Turn back while you still can! Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
I silently thanked the banana peel for its message, kicked it out of my way, and approached my mom’s condo. She was coming down her stairs with the condo door open, because she’d been waiting for my arrival but had to go back upstairs to get her mask. We exchanged greetings, and she tried to maneuver her cane to get down off the very lowest step. But she hurled her body through space, and I was prepared for it. I caught her at ground-level.
That was a divine banana peel.
She burst into tears and sobbed. “Oh! If you hadn’t been here, I would’ve fallen.”
“Well, I am here. Come on, let’s go.”
I got her into my car and drove us up the street to the drugstore. I got her out of the car and up onto the curb and inside the store and behind the wheel of a cart (she finds them more helpful than a cane) and back to the pharmacy counter, where the pharmacist tech wanted to see her Medicare card.
“It’s in my purse,” my mom stated. “OH MY GOD WHERE’S MY PURSE!!!”
I groaned. “It must still be in the car,” I said slowly.
“NOOOO! OUR LIVES ARE RUINED! I NEED MY PURSE!” She turned the cart around and was about to rush out of the store, but I stopped her.
“You’re not going anywhere. Now, you sit yourself down and I’ll go get your purse.” I managed to get her seated, and I left the drugstore.
There was her purse, mixed in with and hidden by some trash on the floor of my car. I grabbed it and went back inside. When she saw her purse, she sobbed and made a scene.
Hanging out while she got the flu shot was an ordeal. She didn’t obey the pharmacists or understand their instructions. She kept asking them things that were redundant or unnecessary. I’d checked out mentally by that point.
After she got the shot, she needed to get a few items. I’m not making this up: she plowed over a man in the incontinence aisle. I detoured so I wouldn’t have to listen to his assurances that he was okay.
Then there was the production in the dairy aisle. “Are they out of milk? How could this happen?! Our lives are ruined, ruined, ruined.”
We got in line.
“Excuse me!” my mom yelled to the person ahead of us. “Are you in line?”
“I’m sorry! I had a stroke, and now I’m feeble.”
“Oh, you’re okay,” the woman said.
We got up to the cashier, where my mom couldn’t figure out how to use her credit card. The cashier said to me, “Ma’am, are you with her?”
I nodded reluctantly.
“Can you help her get her card in the slot?”
I grabbed it from her hand and slid it into the chip reader.
We finally made it out to the car. My mom was acting all chatty and glib when she looked into my back seat and asked, “What’s in that box?”
Not to be easily distracted, I ignored her question and focused on helping her, but sure enough, she hit her head on the car while sitting in the passenger seat. There were more tears.
I got into the car and gave her a stern lecture for having a meltdown over her purse and for not focusing on safety while getting back into my car. “Priorities are important,” I told her. It went in one ear and out the other.
“You see how helpless I am!” she wailed.
“No,” I said. “There was no excuse to break down over your purse.”
“I need my cell phone! I need my credit cards! My life would be ruined without them! Oh, they’re so very important to me. You don’t understand how hard it is–”
“They can be replaced.”
Back at her condo, I got her inside and left.
It’s odd how often narcissism goes hand-in-hand with histrionic personality disorder.