Saturday, February 26, 2005

When She's Worried and She Can't Sleep, She Counts Her Pennies Instead of Sheep. And She Starts to Cry.

I'm going to put my sisters-in-law on an electrical scholarship. I'm going to send them a roll of nickels, and everytime their mom -- my mother-in-law -- complains about the expense of opening and closing the garage door they can drop a coin in the Mason jar. And they will be covered. I will suggest they tell Moms Landrith she is actually making a profit.

It's not precisely a comic situation. I take that back. The comedy in the situation is directly proportional to the distance from it. Moms Landrith is 94. In some ways her intellectual capacities are uneroded. Her memory is failing, but in most cases she thinks clearly, using a lifetime's worth of "old" facts, plus whatever bits of new information happen to have stuck with her. She still has her sense of humor and her pleasure in daily life. But sometimes she quite simply maddens her two daughters with her insistence on small economies.

If you buy the large box of something and then nibble at it, at some point it will go bad. Bugs will be drawn to it. Mold will grow in it. Moisture will disappear from it and it will drift toward ossification. Moms Landrith is hesitant to let it go. "Inedible" is not a category she admits to her awareness. But some things really do become inedible. Some things become disgusting and possibly sickening. There is much surreptitious jettisoning of food, but the girls have learned to manage that pretty well.

But it is hard to surreptitiously turn on a light. It is hard to surreptitiously turn on the fan that evacuates smells from the bathroom.

It's not that she doesn't have the money. Still, I think I will form a national charity and ask you to send it your spare change. I wonder how many struggling suffering loving children of brave decent but deeply Depression-addled parents and grandparents -- I mean that Thirties Depression, not the brain thing -- need to be on an electrical scholarship?

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