The Old Goat
Emma broke her heel a week before Christmas. She slipped on the steps at a shopping centre. Maybe someone pushed her. After just an hour with Emma, anyone would feel inclined to do so.
Tough break…excuse the pun. And I do feel sorry for her. But Emma seems to be doing marvellously, because every time I go to see her she is up and wandering around her home. I think the hospital discharged her early just so they wouldn’t have to put up with her. But it has created an excellent opportunity for Emma to be pampered a little by people in the community.
I’ve bought her a Zimmer frame. Emma complained about it even before she saw it, because she was certain it wouldn’t be adjusted correctly to her height. And I installed a seat across the edges of her bath so that she could sit on top and rest one leg in the bath, leaving the plastered leg safe and dry.
I’m preparing her meals. And they are lovely, if I do say so myself. When I brought her a plate of sandwiches at noon on the first day she got out of hospital she was appalled. ‘Oh No!’ she exclaimed. ‘I don’t eat sandwiches during the day – only cooked meals! I eat sandwiches in the evening.’ OK, so I’m a softy, I started cooking her hot meals for a noon delivery.
But lots of the food was being returned to me. She wouldn’t eat cucumbers (wind), lettuce (wind), apples (more wind), and there were dishes that were just too far beyond her comprehension. Shame on me. I was trying to prepare balanced meals with a bit of variety such as cannelloni, a pork loin steak with mushroom caps, and lots of fresh desserts like cream brûlée. But I got it all wrong. She wanted cottage pies, sausage and mash (no onions…wind) and apple crumble. And the evening I brought her peanut butter and jam sandwiches with the crust trimmed from the bread, well, you would have thought I had brought her dog food.
I’ve run her errands, sorted her pension for her, paid her rent, and installed a phone closer to her chair so she won’t have to get up. But no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to get it right.
Last year I was the officiant at a funeral for a woman who had died in a nursing home. I was told by the funeral director that no one would be attending the funeral. Sadly there are many funerals like this, but I couldn’t bear the thought of having a soul leave this earth without someone to celebrate their life. So I invited Emma to come with me. There was a dual purpose to my invite. I felt better about the funeral and I thought I’d take Emma out for some sightseeing afterwards. Big mistake!
Apparently I had planted a seed of guilt in the manager of the nursing home and at the last minute she decided to come to the funeral. Her presence at the service caused Emma to announce that she had been ‘conned’ into coming. Emma told the nursing home manager that I had done a ‘con job’ on her and got her to attend the funeral under false pretences. I later learned that she also went to the funeral director to tell them that I had conned her into going. I can’t imagine how many other people she said the same thing to.
There’s a saying that is bantered about sometimes; ‘no good deed goes unpunished.’ But I’ve been wrestling with moments of guilt over the past week because my thoughts about ol’ Emma have bordered on the slightly less than charitable. I’m sure God is going to have a stern word with me in the not too distant future. But in the meantime I’ve found a way to avenge my frustration with my mordant friend.
A few days ago, I purchased a small custom made birdhouse. It’s in the form of a cat. You place the cat facing forward onto a tree or wall, then you nail it into place. That leaves the rear of the cat facing outwards. And the talented builder of the birdhouse has adeptly drilled a 3cm hole directly beneath the upturned tail of the cat. I’ve placed it on a garage wall, just outside Emma’s back door. So each and every time she opens the door, the first thing she’ll face is the back end of the cat. Well, she is a bird-lover.
And now that I’ve had my whinge, I’ll tell you a little secret. I love old Emma to pieces. Her cantankerous, grumpy, tetchy, and caustically sarcastic attitude gives her a determination and drive to thrive. She is fiercely independent and I know for a fact that she wept bitterly while in hospital because she didn’t want to be dependent upon anyone. She wanted to get on and live life her way.
And who is there among us to deny her that right? I suspect she’ll outlive me!