Updated: Dec 9, 2020
A dish best served crazy.
In the past, when Mom was trying to make us feel like horrid daughters (a tradition in our household, 'cause, you know, anybody can be an affectionate mom, but to seamlessly interweave it with shame and guilt is to achieve parenting mastery), she'd skip the traditional "I was in labor with you for 142 hours!" routine and instead give us her favorite story of reproach which begins with my father being on a week-long business trip. Finding herself a single-mom for a rainy winter week, she was tired of being housebound and decided to do something fun for her two daughters, age seven and three.
So she gassed up the Thunderbird and drove an hour and a half up to Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood, Oregon. My sister was out of her terrible twos and smack-dab into the trail-of-tears threes (seriously, that kid cried non-stop until she was about 11, then spent the next decade pouting). I, a truly model child myself, was sick, and, okay, maybe a little cranky, and maybe kicking and pinching The Other Girl when Mom wasn't looking, and possibly making a face or two until she'd start to bawl; as you do when you're the big sister and remember how wonderful the world was before Mom and Dad's attention turned elsewhere and suddenly the newly introduced concept of "sharing" ruined your life.
Mom, with a constant barrage of bickering sucking the life out of her high spirits, drove through the rain, then the slush, then the snow and slick roads up the mountain to arrive at historic Timberline Lodge. Frazzled, yet proudly achieving her goal, she opened the car door to let us out to explore the wonder and beauty of the winter landscape.
I stepped out of the car and promptly threw up, which in turn ignited a fresh storm of howls from my sister. Mom shut the door, got back in the car, and drove home spewing rebukes that lasted until about 3 years ago when the memory faded.
Last Sunday it was 90 degrees out. A sweltering, miserable day for an old woman who's body can no longer regulate its internal temperature, and a younger woman who's body can now create its own private summer any day of the year. Me, not thrilled with the idea of jailing Mom in the house to protect her from the heat, decided to head on up to Lake Trillium on Mt. Hood. A beautiful lake, nestled in the cool of the forest elevation, with an easy walking path skirting its shores. I internally patted myself on the back; a slam-dunk plan! We would escape the heat by taking a beautiful drive up the mountain, add a short, breathtaking, lakeside stroll, then stop for a juicy hamburger and chocolate milkshake before heading back down to the valley. Our entire day would be filled with enjoyment!
I drove leisurely through the sun dappled forest with a morose, anxious Mom as co-pilot. I kept up a steady stream of what I hoped would be mood-elevating utterances like "Oh, Mom, isn't it beautiful?", "Hey, be on the lookout for deer!", "There's the mountain, Mom, gorgeous, eh?", each met with silent gloom.
"It will be different when we get to the lake," I thought hopefully - proving, in hind sight, that there are times when you should just bash optimism over the head with a brick and cut your losses.
We pulled into a lakeside parking spot with a spectacular view of the natural splendor awaiting. We walked 50 feet to the day permit booth and paid our $5 fee. We walked two picnic tables and a grove of trees down the scenic path. Mom anxiously began muttering a familiar refrain - she has nothing, she has no one, she doesn't know what to do. Tears ensued. She refused to be consoled or move another step forward. We went back to the van, got in, and left. I attempted to release my fury by venting silently, but a few of my reproaches escaped my face...
(Now, hold on gov'ner, this seems familiar.)
... much as my mother's did some 40 years ago.
I guess what they say is true:
You're never too dementia to exact your revenge.
Hi! I'm Timberline Lodge. You may remember me from such
horror stories as "The Shining", or this one!