My 91-year-old mother can still shock the hell out of me. This time it happens while we’re cruising 38,000 feet up.
“My Doctor says I’m not to travel any more. I don’t care. I’m living life to the fullest – at 91.”
Wait. What? She’s not to travel anymore? And she tells me this now? I turn to question her further. She takes no notice. You see she’s not talking to me but rather to the chap sitting on her other side. In the window seat; a complete stranger.
“Why does the doctor not approve?” asks the startled yet thoroughly captivated fellow.
My ears strain to hear her answer. It’s difficult over this sudden pounding of my heart.
“Oh you know. At my age parts are wearing out, bits are falling off and there are all those pills to remember. I suppose she’s worried I’ll suddenly pop off or something. But I’m not worried. I’m living life to the fullest – at 91.”
She may not care but I do. My responsibilities have ramped up exponentially. They are now stratospheric. Yes, this revelation changes everything. The two of us are flying to Los Angeles for a three night stay with my niece and her husband. Up until now it was just one more trip. We’ve had years of travel together. Now that she’s in her 90’s it’s a case of me looking after check-in, our bags and pushing her airport wheelchair that eases the long trek to the departure gate. But this changes everything. Suddenly I’ve become the companion to someone who’s travelling without the blessing of her doctor. Wonderful.
Horrid thoughts flood my brain. Anything’s possible. What if she has a fall? Or catches a cold that leads to pneumonia? Or, God forbid, has a dizzy spell that results in a long spell in hospital far from everyone but her granddaughter? What am I doing bringing her away from close proximity to her doc? The sole person who’s keeping her alive. I’m such a fool.
Her next question to Window Man bring me back to earth.
“You don’t have a cold do you? I can’t sit next to anyone with a cold. If I get one it’ll lead to pneumonia which will be the death of me.”
The penny drops. She’s no fool; this wily gal who’s living life to the fullest – at 91. She’s planned this revelation with great care. Of course. Offhandedly reveal it to me at 38,000 feet where I can do nothing. Calm my worries with a follow up question designed to underline the fact that she is aware she’s not to catch a cold or get sick so far from her doctor.
Clever woman. I turn back to my book. She’s not finished.
“I’ve come to realise it’s my life. I want to live it my way.” Oh boy. That is the truth. Who am I to limit her life? If she’s game then I should be too. I vow to lighten up and try not worry so much.
The next four days zip by. As per usual life with my mother is never dull. Always game to shop she expresses a deep desire for a pair of shocking purple pants. Ones that “old ladies would never wear.” This doesn’t shock me. She’s never been afraid of colour. In and out of shops we go. Over lunch at a charming outdoor restaurant my niece C expresses a wish to connect with our LA cousin. Perhaps now would be a perfect time? Mom, always in the know, tells us he’s out of town for a few months so she’d rather not scout out his house. C and I have other ideas. We conspire to drive by “on the way to the mall.” Mom won’t notice the slight detour.
Twenty minutes later we’re just blocks from his house in an enchanting residential area. “There’s no mall around here!” chirps Little Miss Observant who’s living life to the fullest – at 91. Of course she’d notice. What were we thinking?
While the purple pants remain elusive Mom’s energy flags only at night. In the day she plays the tourist with the energy of a person half her age. It’s remarkable.
Still I can’t help but hover which annoys her intensely.
“Kel, don’t fuss so much. I’m being careful. Enjoy the trip and don’t worry. I’ll be fine.
She is. Four days later she sails into the security area at the LA airport all in one piece. The picture of health.
I overhear her chatting with the security guard who’s gently patting her down.
“Oh I’ll be back very soon. I still have to find a pair of shocking purple pants!”
Bless you Mom. You are an inspiration. May we all be living life to the fullest – at 91.
Enough about me and my living life to the fullest – at 91 mom. I’m curious about you. Can your mom still shock you? Do you still feel young? Do you know where one can purchase a pair of shocking purple pants? If you’d care to share, I’d love to hear.