My parents live in an assisted facility in South Jordan. Sagewood. They love it. I love it even more. Sagewood has been the best thing to happen to them since I got my military draft number.
Even though they’re in assisted living, they still require help from the children they permitted to grow into legal adulthood. We take turns being available to them.
Of all their progeny, I live the closest. When Mom needs groceries or when the Old Man confuses his wife of 66 years for a Viet Cong sapper, I go over and straighten things out.
We also drive them places because they a) don’t have a car, b) don’t have driver licenses, and c) the cops would force them off the road after a long pursuit during which speeds would approach 19 mph.
On Monday, my sister called and asked me to go to the apartment for Mom’s hearing aids. She was at the clinic for a hearing test and had forgotten them on the table.
I went over and couldn’t find the devices. I searched without luck. I called Mom and asked if she had checked her purse.
Her • “I’ve gone through it several times. I don’t have them. They’re on the table with the ceramic elephant, or the table with the ceramic owl, or the one with all my ceramic stuff.”
Me • “OK.”
Another two searches, including one in which I called her again and reported the specific inventory of each table. They were not there.
Her • “Do you want to talk to your father?”
Me • “OK … wait. Ask him where he is right now.”
The answer came back. “Saigon.”
Sagewood. Saigon. It’s easy to mix them up if you’re 87 years old and sometimes say “Nixon” when you mean “Trump.” But the last thing I needed in the confusion was his help.
Mom insisted her hearing aids were on one of six surfaces near her rocking chair. Would I please check again?
I love my mother even though ours was a rocky relationship when I was a kid. The fact that she let me live and didn’t leave any teeth marks means I owe her. She put up with a lot. So I looked. Again.
This time I “cop searched” the place. Stuff was all over the floor, drawers dumped and beds stripped. Condiment jars in the fridge were examined. I checked both toilets, light fixtures and thoroughly probed the contents of every wastebasket.
Note: The Old Man used to do this to the bedroom I shared with my brother, so it didn’t really bother me. Besides, I was going to clean it up, which he never did. The raid debris served as notice that he had his eye on us.
No #@%&! hearing aids.
Just about the time I was ready to ask the “Saigon” custodial staff if I could borrow a drywall saw, my phone rang. It was Mom.
“I found them.”
They. Were. In. Her. Purse.
Deeply embarrassed, she apologized for a good 10 minutes, repeatedly referring to herself as “a forgetful old woman.”
Strangely, I wasn’t bothered. It used to drive me out of my mind when she told me to clean my room, or mow the lawn. But I had just spent more than an hour looking for something that wasn’t there.
I don’t know how some people can’t get over what it took for their parents to raise them. Every relationship — especially the ones in which so much is owed — deserves to be maintained.
Having an aberrant personality, I once nursed a long list of grievances against my parents for the things they were forced to do to keep me alive. Today, I don’t hold any ancient grudges against them. They did the best they could with an almost impossible task.
Her • “I’m sorry. Please don’t write anything in the paper about what a crazy mother you have.”
Me • “I won’t, Mom. Love you, too.”
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.