Where’s Mom?

My mother is 90-years-old, almost deaf, 4’7” tall, walks with a cane and lives with us. Taking my mother shopping involves patience, good weather (she hates rain) and no sales.  If there’s a sale happening in the clothing store that day we have to leave because she can’t handle the crowds. So we have resigned ourselves to paying more for clothes.

When shopping, we head straight to the “petites” section. It is there that we spend an excruciatingly-long amount of time looking at the same four pairs of beige pants or beige sweaters as my mother tries to determine whether they’re a different shade of beige from the other seventy beige sweaters and beige pants she has at home. So we stand there in the middle of the petites section having a discussion about the varying degrees of beigeness. It’s at this point that my eye starts twitching – a sure sign that Pam is about to blow. Then, even though previous experience tells me what I am about to do isn’t a good idea, I do it anyway. I tell her I’m going over to look at some clothes in my size and I’ll be back in a few minutes. I instruct her to stay in the petites section. My eye usually stops twitching as I steer my little cart away from the beige clothes and toward the racks of shirts and pants in other colors.

You would think that a 90-year-old woman who walks with a cane wouldn’t be able to move that fast but in the 10 minutes that I’m gone, my mom can wheel that shopping cart around that store and end up in the most unlikely departments. So of course, when I return to the petites section she is nowhere to be seen. It’s like this every time. I never learn.

The problem with being separated from my 90-year-old, almost deaf, 4’7” mother in the clothing store is that she can’t be seen over the clothing racks. I can’t call out to her because she can’t hear me. Give her a cell phone, you say? We tried that but she can’t hear the ring, ignores the vibrating alert and even if she did manage to answer it, she can’t hear me on the other end so she just hangs up.

My 10 minutes of shopping on my own turns into 30 minutes of wheeling my cart all over the store, ducking down under clothing racks, trying to spy my mother’s beige pants and beige shoes. I make several trips into the fitting rooms where I peer, like a peeping tom,  under the closed doors, hoping to spot those familiar feet.

If I finally spot her on the other side of the store I have to race like mad, dodging other shoppers (so glad we don’t shop on sale days) to reach her before she ducks out of sight again. Out of breath, I finally manage to catch up to her where she will usually greet me by holding up even more beige clothing for my opinion. There’s no escaping the beige discussion so I don’t know why I even try. We go over every article of clothing until she’s happy that she has chosen some that are just different enough. I don’t ever see any difference in the clothing she chooses but if she’s happy, I’m happy. Just get me out of the store.

Since it’s obvious I’m never going to learn that I shouldn’t leave my mom alone, I’ve come up with a plan. For Christmas I bought my husband an electronic key finder because he’s notorious for losing his keys in the house. I’m tempted to take it and attach it to my mother’s cane the next time we go shopping.

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