Dear Readers: Every year I step away from my daily column to work on other creative projects. I’ve gathered some topical “Best Of” columns from 10 years ago. I’m calling today’s topic: “The Trouble with Mother.” I’ll be back in two weeks with fresh columns.
Dear Amy: My 83-year-old widowed mother and I were having our weekly phone call last night when she began to repeat herself over and over. My mother’s cognitive skills are exceptional, and this had me worried. I asked if she felt OK, and she said yes, but again she began to repeat herself.
I took it upon myself to call 911. An ambulance went to the house. The EMTs examined her and found nothing wrong. Now she refuses to speak with me. She says I humiliated her. My brother and sister say I overreacted.
What do you think? — A Very Concerned Son
Dear Concerned: You did the right thing. Your mother is embarrassed, your siblings are backing her up, but there are far worse fates than embarrassment. Suffering a stroke, for instance, and not getting help.
Work with your siblings and your mother on making changes so she can continue to live safely at home. I recommend a monitoring service. For a monthly fee, she can have an intercom installed on her phone line and a “panic” button. You also should add a couple of neighbors to your contact list.
Dear Amy: When my 80-year-old mother goes out on special occasions, she insists on wearing shoes with one-inch heels, instead of flats. She says it completes her outfit.
The problem is, she’s unstable on these heels.
I’ve told her that the shoes are a health risk because she could fall.
I believe her judgment is impaired; she never listens to me. For instance, decades ago I warned her of the perils of being a Cubs fan. She ignored me. You know the rest.
Amy, you’re my only hope.
My mom religiously reads your column; she considers you an oracle of truth (see what I mean about impaired judgment?).
I believe that if you provide her with common sense advice, such as, “Ditch the heels, woman,” she’ll take your advice and the problem will be solved. — Faithful Reader
Dear Faithful: Ditch the heels, woman!
And get some new ones!
Your mother’s shoes might not fit properly, or the heel might be too narrow for her.
I agree with you about the perils of walking while wearing unstable footwear. No pair of shoes is worth taking a tumble for. But I bet there is a pair of stylish shoes out there that will fit your mother and also look good on her when she goes out dancing.
It’s time for you to take her shoe shopping.
I also agree with you on the perils of being a Cubs fan. But baseball is like family. The long suffering among us see our fate as being the price of loyalty. The best thing about being a Cubs fan is what happens during the offseason. Right about now, we bury our better judgment and start looking forward to next year.
Dear Amy: We have lived in our rental house for about eight months. There is a kitchen drawer that has, among other things, matches and batteries in it. We have a 19-month-old son who is able to open the drawer and get stuff out of it.
My husband, who is the primary caretaker of our son while I am at work, has admitted he has had opportunities to fix the situation because he is home.
I have also admitted that I bear some responsibility because I also knew that it was a problem and until yesterday, had never done anything about it.
Who is more responsible for the fact that the drawer has (until yesterday) never been cleaned out and the dangerous items taken out of our son’s reach? — Wondering Mother
Dear Wondering: In the time it took you and your husband to bat this issue around and then for you to sit down to email me your query, your son could have ingested several batteries and learned to light his own cigarettes.
My point being: Both parents are equally responsible for removing dangers from Junior’s reach.
Ask yourself: If your son were at a daycare center or a relative’s house, would you want his caregivers to argue over who is responsible for providing a child-safe environment? Or would you want someone to just take care of it?