Dear readers, not only was my mother a wonderful mom, she was also an extraordinary daughter. I hope you enjoy this story by my mother, the McAdoo Marvel.
All the good stories I know about Daddy are from our adult years. I don’t remember his speaking to me except to correct when I was a kid. Billie agreed with me, “Yes, I used to wish he would talk to you.” That was quite a statement coming from her about our father. Most of my Daddy stories are from his years in a nursing home. However, some earlier stories are a little off the wall, but they seem to be routine for him.
Shortly after Doc was born, his granddad wanted to see him, so he came to town. Nothing wrong with that – so far. Fortunately, I woke during the night to hear a voice softly calling my name. I got up to find Daddy coming up the stairs, striking matches to light his way. When I asked why he had climbed in the kitchen window and was coming up the stairs instead of using the front door, he answered, “I was afraid I was in the wrong place.”
When he attended my sister Theresa’s wedding, no one knew he was coming; no one knew he was even thinking of coming. The family and wedding party met the night before the wedding for rehearsal, with my husband escorting the bride. That’s when Theresa asked if I could pick Daddy up at the bus station the next morning. He had just called, and she had to work. Theresa wouldn’t ask my husband to suddenly switch his part because Daddy would be there, so Daddy didn’t give the bride away.
I don’t remember how long, but I do know Daddy complained constantly through two nursing homes. In spite of the fact that every Friday, I drove directly to the home, picked him up, entertained him, and kept him all weekend. Every Monday morning, I had trouble getting him to go back. I tried to bargain with him, “Let them take care of you four days. I’ll get you on Fridays, and we’ll do something.” So, on weekends, we’d go to high school football games, a Houston Astros game, the rodeo. Somewhere. On Monday, we’d have the same problems. Daddy thought he’d be happy if he lived in a place run by the Church of Christ. Not so. He finally wore me down, and I told him he could live with me.
“One of two things will happen,” I said. I felt like a prophet. “You will either go for a walk and get completely lost. Or you’ll fall and break a hip.” It was the hip.
I knew he wouldn’t cooperate with the nursing home workers when it came to walking, and they couldn’t do anything about it. I hired a woman with some experience with elderly people. I told her she was hired for as long as his money lasted. It was a given that she keep him moving so the broken leg wouldn’t end up shorter. He discovered that even with her, walking was painful, and he refused. Needless to say, when his money was gone, it was back to a nursing home. I took him to the best place in town, as deemed by an EMT guy.
Fortunately, a group showed up every Thursday evening to dance. Volunteers gave wheelchair-bound patients twirls on the floor. Daddy loved it. He ate Thanksgiving dinner with us one year, and spent most of the time hoping he’d return in time for the dance. Although, I doubt they had it on Thanksgiving.
He stopped complaining, but his thinking became more and more bizarre – but not like Alzheimer’s or bad dementia. He seemed to have the idea that if he had a young wife to take care of him, or lots of money, he could stay out of a nursing home. Maybe he thought the money would get him the wife. He began imagining he was winning tons of money from some radio show. We had to get a replacement one day for his upper denture. On the way home, a little red car passed us. He informed me that the car was full of money he had won. Some nursing home residents had library cards hanging near their doors showing they wanted a book. Daddy thought they were showing how much money they needed.
I spent a complete Sunday afternoon writing checks for him. I used his blank checks, and wrote them for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Of course, with the proper date. He’d look each one over carefully, decide who would get it, and he would sign it. He was going to give Aunt Grace an $80,000 check, but remembered she was dead. When I reminded him that members of his family had also died, he answered, “But they came back.”
So I continued to write worthless checks for millions of dollars for those who had come back from the dead.
Meanwhile, he’d keep me informed about all the girlfriends. They had various names – only one of which I remember. At one time, members of both sexes, including girlfriends, were sleeping on the walls. They went to a special school to learn to do that.
Eventually, he had only one girlfriend. He was telling me about her one night when he decided we were a little too noisy. He motioned for me to keep it down as he whispered, “Shhh, she’ll hear us.” He pointed down below. I wondered how she could hear – I couldn’t see her. Then he told me that she slept between the mattress and the box springs, and sometimes pinched his toes at night.
Aha, I said to myself, only a flat one could sleep there. No wonder I remember her name. She’s the only one who earned a nickname. For me, she has forever remained “Flat Sue.”