Living with OLDS isn’t easy.
I basically wake up each morning in a state of panic until I’m sure that everyone, including the OLD dog, is still breathing.
And once I’ve made the rounds of the geriatric crowd, sure in my belief that we all can make it through one more day, I let my guard down and ready for other battles.
But not the morning of the broken ass incident.
I don’t know if I will ever let my guard down again after that particularly disturbing event.
It was about 6AM when I heard a loud startling CRACK from the living room. I knew immediately that my mom had taken a fall: It wasn’t the first time she had landed hard.
Eighty-five but still absolutely obstinate that she was not ready for a walker, that a cane would do her just fine, but the truth?
The cane was unstable.
Add our slick hardwood floors and it was literally a recipe for disaster and so on this morning . . . it was.
I jumped from the bed and ran down the hallway to find my mom; legs splayed out in front of her, back pressed against the leg of a chair that had luckily inched back and pinned itself on the brick wall somewhat breaking her fall, her cane flat on the floor next to her, a large angry scratch on the floor betraying the truth: that she had leaned on the cane for help but it had buckled and let her down.
I wanted to pick it up and throw it through the plate glass window and scream at her for not using the walker but I held my temper and waited for Dylan as I knew he would soon be rushing down the stairs to help me lift her into the chair and assess the damage.
“Something’s wrong with my butt,” she said. “It feels like something’s stuck up inside of it.”
Dylan, my son, looked at me and though he didn’t want to laugh at his Nana, especially if she was truly hurt, had to fight back from laughing. My mother’s voice, her comic timing, without realizing it, was impeccable.
I couldn’t stop myself.
“Oh you think it’s so funny to have something up your ass?” She snapped.
And of course, then Dylan completely lost it.
My mom frowned at both of us.
“Wait until it happens to you,” she said.
“You mean wait until I have something stuck up my ass or wait until I refuse to use a walker and fall on my ass?” my sarcasm beyond blatant.
“Oh you think you’re so funny,” she said as she grabbed hold of my arm and Dylan’s, righting herself, as she made Dylan hand her the cane.
“But Nana,” Dylan said sweetly. “What if . . .”
“I’ll be fine,” she barked at him. “It’s just a sore ass.”
She hobbled off to the TV room where moments later I heard Regis and Kelly blasting from the set and so I assumed “it was only a flesh wound” and that she had already gotten over it.
I told Dylan to go back upstairs but to keep an eye and an ear out for Nana once I left for school.
He kissed Nana on the head and walked away, a bit of a giggle escaping unexpectedly somewhere around the 10th stair-step.
I got dressed, left for work, believing everything was okay until later that day my mother fell again.
This time, she just slipped right out of her recliner and fell butt first on the floor.
Luckily, my good friend Darryl was doing some work on the house, and heard her calling for help over the sound of his power tools.
When I saw his number pop up on my phone at school, I told the students that it might be an emergency and I’d have to take the call.
They all leaned forward in their desks, wondering what “Ms. Wood escapades” they would be privy to this morning.
“Hey D.D.” Darryl said. “Your mom fell out of her chair and hurt her butt.”
“Is she okay?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “I was able to get her back up into her chair but,” he paused, “She says she has something stuck up her butt and it needs to come out and I can’t really do anything about that.”
“She actually told you that?” I asked. “She actually told you she had something stuck up her butt?”
I couldn’t believe it. My mom was totally out of control and at that moment I was reminded how much like my mother I was when I turned to see 35 young and highly interested faces wonder:
Who was on the phone?
Who had something stuck up their butt?
And thank God Ms. Wood was so absent-minded she would repeat the up-the-butt scenario in front of her entire class.
I saw Tyler Ericksen in the back of the room turn to A.J. Santos and mouth the words “Up her butt” before they both just fell out laughing.
I turned my best glare at them and they immediately silenced themselves.
“Does she want me to come home?” I said to Darryl.
“No,” Darryl said. “She’s okay. She said she could wait to get up when you get home and I’m here.”
“Fine,” I said and hung up the phone.
“Who’s got something up their butt?” Tyler asked as he tried not to smirk or giggle.
“You’re gonna have something up your butt Tyler if you don’t crack that book and get back to work.”
A.J. put his face down on his desk. His shoulders heaving with laughter.
“A.J.?” I said.
He looked up, tears streaming down his face and whispered, “You said crack.”
“OH JESUS!” I screeched. “It’s my mom. She took a fall. She hit her ass. Now she thinks something is stuck up there!”
The entire room went silent before I heard a quiet voice in the back say, “My brother stuck a small mallet up his butt once. Maybe your mom landed on something and it…”
I looked at the student and shouted, “My mother does not have a small mallet up her ass!”
She looked around the room as if she was only trying to help.
Everyone else just seemed dumbfounded that 11th grade American History had turned into Local Current Affairs in under a minute.
“Let’s just go back to work,” I said calmly now. “My mom will be fine. I’m sure she just bruised her tailbone.”
And so, my class went back to silently working and I counted the minutes until I could get home and check on my mother.
By 3PM I realized my mother was not fine.
Darryl was long gone—smart man—and mom was bent over the kitchen sink.
She had her arms folded in front of her and her ass up in the air.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Taking the pressure off.”
I watched her shift her weight from one orthopedic sandaled foot to the other, her short cotton blend roomy capris moving with her.
“I think I need to go to the doctor,” she said.
I waited . . . listening . . . watching her in action.
“Yep,” she said. “I’m sure of it.”
Here she turned to look at me head on.
“You know when it just feels like you need someone to stick a finger up there and set it right. That’s what I need. A finger adjustment.”
I cannot describe my face as these words registered in my brain.
In fact, I’m not sure if Hemingway could have described it.
Or even Palahniuk or Leonard.
“Did you really just say that?” I asked.
“What? That I need a finger up my ass. Yes, D.D. that is what I said. I need a finger up my ass.”
I couldn’t take anymore. “Jesus Christ! Do you hear the shit that comes out of your mouth?”
I stormed out of the kitchen and down the hall, where I slammed the door behind me and called my oldest daughter, who was in nursing school, to help me out with this situation.
Lexi answered the phone on the first ring.
“I hear Nana needs a finger up her ass,” followed by her hysterical laughter. “Don’t worry Mom,” she said. “I’m already on the way.”
I stayed in the back of the house unwilling to watch the full-blown fiasco of Dylan and Lex trying to get Nana out the door, and into the car, to go to the Doctor’s to get her much needed “finger adjustment.”
I actually laid on the bed the entire time they were gone and tried to envision Dr. Yeske’s face when my mom repeated to him in her perfect comic tone, “I just feel like I need you to put your finger up my ass and adjust it.”
I couldn’t help but smile.
When they returned, Nana was upright with a frosty chocolate shake in her hand as if all was right in the world.
“You okay,” I asked though I was terribly afraid of the answer.
“Yes,” she said as she took a giant slurp off her shake. “I have a small fracture in my tailbone. I don’t need a finger adjustment. It’s just going to take a bit of time to heal.”
“Oh that’s wonderful,” I said as the kids put a pillow in the seat of her recliner and helped her to sit back.
“Yes,” she said as she took another slurp of shake. “Will you put a movie on for me?’
“Sure,” I said. Happy in the knowledge that we were moving past butt talk, “What do you want to watch?”
“Get me Bad Santa,” she said. “I just love that movie and all this ass talk reminded me of that great scene when he . . .”
“Don’t.” I said. “Don’t you dare say it.”
She took another slurp off her shake and smiled. And though she didn’t say a word I swear I could hear her say, That’s right, Sweetheart. I’m not out of the sarcasm game yet.