Monday, March 12, 2012

She Drives Me Crazy and Nowhere Else

When one's aging parents reach a certain point, it becomes necessary to take away their car keys. My father (who is the elder by five years) took my mother's keys away a little while back because no matter how close it came to killing her each time, or how many bald-faced lies she could tell about it, she was driving to the drive-thru cigarette store to get her smokes. When she was too sick and weak to drive herself, she began giving the housekeeper money to go buy them for her- this stopped when my father had a little chat with the housekeeper about Mom's eminent demise from smoking.

Somewhere along the line, Mom had decided that Dad had smelled cigarette smoke in her car, and her blind was that my sister was smoking while she ran their errands in it (I don't smoke, so she couldn't pin it on me). Thing was, Dad hadn't smelled it in the car. He smelled it in the house, on her clothes, and in her hair. Did I mention that she's on oxygen, by the way?

We'd walk past the downstairs half-bath and smell it, as the fumes seeped out from under the edge of the door. Cigarettes have that metallic odor that is unique to smoking tobacco- it's unmistakable, and nothing else smells exactly like it, but she'd lie like a rug when we confronted her. The last time she had a cardiac incident, just after her first cousin died, I was summoned home from the family wake following the funeral because Mom needed to go to the hospital again. I practically broke the sound barrier crossing the eighty miles from her hometown to mine; still, she sat there with a perfectly straight face and lied to us.

While she was in the hospital that time, my father and sister scoured every corner of the house and her car to find all of her cigarette hidey-holes. Dad collected all of the sets of keys to her car and hid them. After several months of non-driving and total non-smoking, Mom was released from care by her cardiologist. She's got a one-year follow-up, but she has no arrhythmia, her lungs are clear, and her congestive failure has eased up. The next day, she cranked up about her car keys. Again.

Every time we talk to Mom now, the conversation veers to the dangerous subject of her car keys. The other day, I asked how she was feeling and she informed me that a fourth (?!?!?) filling had fallen out.  In the course of the conversation, I told her that I'd take a day off and come home to take her down to her dentist. She told me that Dad was too cheap to let her go, and that she'd get the housekeeper to take her (insert insane cackling laughter here) if Daddy would let her have the car keys. I told her that she sounded insane, and her response was, "Well, MAYBE I AM!" (More crazy laughter.)

My mother was never this manipulative when she was in her right mind. This is proof positive to me that nicotine is addicting at levels that people really fail to understand; she's a tobacco junkie who will resort to anything to get her fix. This includes forcing us to take her to WalMart in the hope that she'll convince us, through her obstreperousness and exaggerated lethargy, to leave her alone long enough to go buy cigarettes while we're distracted by the prospect of getting home before midnight.

I love my mother, but this is really getting on my last nerve. If her teeth hurt that much, you'd think she'd let me take her to the dentist, but no. Either she drives herself, or she doesn't go. I guess every tooth is going to rot out of her head, because my father's not giving her the keys.

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