our mother jeanne is quite a lady. she managed to get plastic surgery for free this week, which earned her the utmost respect from my sister-in-law. it all came about because jeanne’s eyelids have been at half-mast since about 1997, so her doctor decreed that it was medically necessary for her to have what is, in essence, a brow-lift. this took place at ye olde hackensack hospital, where she had her heart surgery and valve replacement a few years back. it’s also the place that our father bob likes to visit via ambulance at odd hours, say at about 3am once every 10 days. what he likes to do is wake jeanne out of a sound sleep to tell her he thinks he’s dying, and then jeanne rolls over and calls 911. the last time this happened she didn’t even take the EMT’s up on their offer of a ride to the ER. she just waited till the hospital called the next morning to tell her that bob was fine and ready to be picked up.
so this week was jeanne’s turn. she told me i didn’t have to come out for the procedure, insisting that the doctor said she could walk back home to their apartment, which is conveniently next door to the hospital. this was a real knee-slapper, since it’s been in the 90-degree range all summer with deathly humidity. and jeanne is 78 yrs old. and she has also been known to trip over wall-to-wall carpeting, as wiggles has reported on this very blog! there was no way i was going to let her walk home.
the doctor was able to do only one of jeanne’s eyes, cause he wants to wait till it “settles” so he can get the other one to “match.” therefore, he went extra-high on the eye he did do. well, you know i adore my mother, but she looked a little scary after the surgery, like half her face had been taken over by marty feldman. nonetheless, i assumed a positive attitude. “You look great!” I chirped when i saw her. i then got the car and drove the 300 yards to their apartment at a speed of about 3 miles per hour, so as not to jostle her.
now, i know i said above that bob often tells jeanne he’s dying, but the truth of it is that he rarely speaks much at all these days. he has parkinson’s and just feels worn out and crummy (who can blame him?), so he has developed a repertoire of hand gestures and eye rolls that do much of his communicating for him, sort of like an 84 year old charlie mccarthy. he spends most of his time in the den, wedged into a la-z-boy that no one can figure out how to recline. he also watches a LOT of television, and at top volume.
when jeanne and i came home, she wanted to sleep on the couch in the den. so i got her all comfy while bob was settling in to catch the 2pm showing of “poliwood” on one of their hundreds of movie channels. jeanne dropped off to sleep immediately while bob pointed his finger first at me, then at the 2 inches of couch that jeanne was not on, and finally to the TV, letting me know that he wanted me to watch with him. so i squeezed myself in to check out the movie. it was a pastiche of the usual celeb suspects at the 2008 democratic convention – anne hathaway, timothy daly, annette bening. jeanne had been sleeping for about 15 minutes when bob, who when he speaks, is usually incredibly soft and rather unintelligible, points to the TV and yells, in a crystal-clear voice that could have been heard 2 towns over, “MATTHEW MODINE!” naturally, jeanne woke up from her precarious position on the couch and never got back to sleep. as for bob, he decided he was tired after raising the flag for matthew (i mean, of all people, matthew modine?) and wheeled himself via his walker into his bed. they are two crazy kids, our parents.