For my mother’s 89th birthday I wrapped up four cloth napkins for my mother, whose green and pink begonias will match her placemats perfectly. I got them at a thrift store hopefully to replace the very thin paper Marcal napkins that I have come to hate. I’ve been on a rant lately nagging her and Larry’s 84 year old mother about wasting paper. I stated my arguments sweetly when there last time: ‘they’re ecologically sound, it’s best we reuse cotton fabric, rather than throw trees in the wastebasket: especially when it takes me 2-5 Marcals to get through one meal.’ I even left the $1.50 price tag on my gift so she’d know what a bargain they were.
She’ll actually be thrilled, if she remembers who they are from. She’s not quite senile, but losing focus, slipping noticeably mentally was how I’d sum it up.
We talked (again) about how she’d like to die. She told me a few years ago that she’d like it to be at 86 in her sleep; but now with so many of her peers wasting away in long drawn out medicalized horror stories, she told me she definitely does not want ‘to go upstairs.’ That’s the assisted living wing guaranteed by the retirement community she had the good sense and the where-with-all to set up for herself eight years ago.
As I left there Tuesday, my last words were (not necessarily in this order) I love you mom, thank you for all you’ve done for me, (not put up with, as I was a good girl), and pray for a stroke, a big one.
If I remember correctly she nodded in assent. Not quite a high five, but definitely affirmative.
One week later I got a call thanking me for the napkins. “They’re pretty,” she said, “but I won’t use them. I like the one’s I’ve always used.”