My car broke down on Saturday afternoon as I was on my way to visit my mom. I had to call AAA and get it towed. It was too late in the day to get a rental car anywhere except at the airport, and I didn’t feel like hassling with public transportation to get out to the airport, so I just made a reservation with Enterprise for Monday morning. I knew she would be disappointed about not seeing me this weekend and about having to miss church, but it couldn’t be helped.
On Sunday a dear friend offered me a ride up to Mom’s place, and came back an hour and a half later to take me home, so that I could at least spend some time with her. I brought her belated birthday gift – a digital picture frame – and we spent most of my visit watching the slideshow and talking about the family photos. She seemed very lucid and clear, and remembered nearly everyone in the pictures, and we had a lovely visit.
We moved a chair in her bedroom so that she could sit and look out the window, and we talked for a while about the pretty flowers and trees and what a nice job the owner has done with the landscaping. Then she said something that caught me by surprise.
“When you get your car fixed, we should go over to my apartment and see what I have there.”
(Umm, what? What apartment?) “Is there something in particular you need or just want to get?”
“No, I just want to see if it’s even worth it to still be renting an apartment when I’m staying here. Maybe I should get rid of it.”
“Well, actually, all your stuff is in a storage unit, Mom. You don’t have an apartment right now.”
“Oh,” she said. “Good.”
I let out the breath I’d been holding. Then she surprised me again. “A couple of months ago, I went by there and there were some young guys there. I thought maybe the apartment had been sublet. It didn’t feel like my place at all.”
(Okaaaay… She doesn’t go anywhere unless I take her, and I’ve avoided even driving past the assisted living place where she lived for her first eight months in LA. What apartment is she even thinking about? Maybe she dreamed it?)
All I said was, “Yeah, it’s funny how once you move on, your old place doesn’t feel like home anymore.”
She nodded. “This is home now.”
I got the word on my car today. The transmission needs to be rebuilt and the clutch replaced, for a total of $2300. That’s going to take all of the money I had been saving to move into a handicap-accessible apartment building so that Mom will be able to visit me in my home. It will likely be at least a year before I can move now, and I don’t know what we’re going to do at the holidays if she’s not able to climb the seven steps into my building. But it can’t be helped. I can’t be without a car, especially not when she’s dependent on me for transportation, and I can’t afford a car payment on top of her medications and incidental expenses that I became responsible for when we moved her into the care home. I guess all I can do is pray that she’s healthy enough and strong enough to climb those stairs, with assistance, come Christmastime.