Monday, August 29, 2011

Stopping By the Road on a Late-Summer Day: Picking Crabapples With Mama

Mama has crabapples to process tonight.  We stopped out on Highway 57 close to the Neely Road, where the wonderfully tart small fruit were spotted yesterday on our way to Hattiesburg.  Mama is 82.  She will be 83 in December.  She's at that age that every day she's a little slower, a little more stooped, slightly more forgetful (but don't tell her I said this) and older.  She's old.  

I think I see age settling exponentially upon her but she always manages to find the strength and ability to do what she wants, when she wants, in the manner she wishes.  She wanted to stop yesterday to pick crabapples but the dermatology appointment was waiting and she also had new lenses to be fitted in her glasses from the optometry appointment last week.  

We left Hattiesburg and drove to Lucedale to WalMart, bypassing 57 and the trees.  This morning, grumbling from the stiffness yesterday's doctor's visits had left her with, she rode with me out to Neely to pick up our Angel Food boxes at the little church there.  We discussed the crabapples again.  Rather, she discussed the fact that it would be another year without crabapple jelly because she doubted we would get back over that way.  Actually, we didn't discuss anything; she was, in her perfect passive-aggressive manner, stating that there would be no crabapple jelly this year because she wasn't going to get anywhere to pick them that I would carry her to.  Thinking about this a moment, I suggested we make the loop back through Neely and out to Highway 57.  Mama looked at me and started digging plastic grocery sacks out of the glove compartment.  Thoughts of being Favorite Child for one more day before summer ended quickly entered my mind.

This is the third time we've stopped at these same trees.  The first time was 1992.  Mama had had outpatient knee surgery at Methodist Hospital in Hattiesburg.  I didn't know about the knee surgery until a few days before it was scheduled.  I knew Mama had been having pain and problems with her knee, but she hadn't told me she had been to a doctor OR a surgeon.  Not a peep.  My brother, Joe, called on Sunday before the surgery on Thursday to see who was going to take her to the hospital and be with her for the following days after.  Whhhhat?  I called Mama.  She said she didn't want to be a bother and that someone would carry her.  Mmhhhmmmm...I quickly made arrangements for Michael's care and John Robert and I drove to Leakesville on Wednesday.  John Robert and Mama's relationship is quite another story for another day.  

He never wanted to come back to Grenada or Oxford from his MawMaw's house in Leakesville.  At the tender age of two he wanted to take care of her and there was no leaving him behind.  We left him with Mrs. Janet the morning of the surgery and Mama spotted those crabapple trees on the way to Hattiesburg.  

Her endoscopic surgery, to repair torn ligaments, was uneventful.  Three hours after arriving at the hospital, she'd forfeited the ice chips for a cup of coffee and was awake, although still a little groggy, and ready to go home.  There's a mandatory time period a patient is required to spend in post operative recovery.  Mama asked for and got her clothes and was sitting on the edge of the bed, dressed, waiting to be released well before her time there was up.  

They gave her a pain pill to keep her comfortable on the ride home:  Vicodin.  She was expediently released and made comfortable on the back seat of the car, her knee bandaged, braced, and elevated.  She was still thirsty and we stopped on Hardy Street for a cola - and then she started talking.  She talked.  And she talked. And at the point I thought she might drift off to sleep she started talking again.  The vicodin had completely wired her!  We turned on to Highway 57 toward Leakesville and she became animated with talk of the crabapples.  Jabber jabber jabber jabber jabber!!!! 

I was NOT stopping, trying to get her home and all I heard was "Slow down!  I want to see if they're still there!"  "How do you expect me to see them in the back seat with you going so fast?"  "We need to stop so you can pick some!" "I'll show you how to make the jelly, but we need to stop first and get crabapples."  Mama will wear you slap down when you least expect it.  I slowed down and the trees were still there, each branch loaded with the small fruit, hanging in clusters like little yellow Christmas balls on Charlie Brown's sincere tree.  

 I stopped and got out to scramble up the bluff to shake the trees.  Turning around, there's Mama:  out of the car with a peppermint candy bag, book store bag, and the convenience store bag all in hand, headed toward the little embankment the trees are growing on!  There's no stopping her.  The Vicodin not only made her oblivious to pain, it also created a level of energized euphoria only dreamt of by drug addicts! 

 I kept trying to get her off the bluff but she continued to tell me she felt fine, she was fine, she wasn't putting any weight on her freshly operated-on knee, she just wanted those few more crabapples right over there.  

It takes me a lot of talking to convince Mama of anything, but I finally convinced her to get off the shaved side of the hill and let me shake the trees.  She could pick up the ones on the ground.  

And she did.  Enough of them that my hands became stiff and store from slicing the firm flesh off the core to make the precious jelly with.  Mama really was fine, too.  She didn't take any of the pain medications sent home with her,  preferring her old standard, Bayer Aspirin.  Two days post-surgery she wasn't even taking those.  Her knee healed without any complications and is still fine.

Mama and I giggle a lot about her crabapple picking that day.  We laughed about it yesterday and snickered about it this morning as she was again, half way up the little embankment, picking crabapples...

Today's post was written exactly a year and a day ago.  I thought of it this morning, as we stopped to pick crab apples by the side of the road coming back from the opthamologist office.   Mama has crab apples, again, to process tonight.  And I get to be Favorite Child again for at least the rest of the day...

1 comment:

  1. You two are precious! What an adventure. You are storing up memories to last forever. Cherish the times. How lucky you are. The picture is terrific! Fondly, Maryb