A Day to Remember

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In the beginning, there was morning… and this one started just like any other Saturday.. Husband and I scanning our phones, scrolling and trolling in search of entertainment. Hmmm… too early for apples and pumpkins… too late in the day for fall  foliage… too cold for the Cape… no chowdah or music festivals… Too, too, too… No, no, no…

A serial non-planner, I like to see where the wind and wheels will take us on the weekends. Unplanned mini adventures always seem to work best.

But on this morning, my mind drifted to Mom.

She’d been holed up in her apartment for more than seven consecutive days, cutting and clipping her beloved Boston Globe and spending endless hours with her pals at MSNBC. Aside from two brief in-home visits from service providers, Mom’s weekly physical contact with the outside world had been limited to my hasty hellos and daily dinner drop-offs. None of the routine scans, xrays, follow-ups, tests or appointments on the docket, her days were pretty dull and it was clearly time to air her out.   

After our usual debate, Husband and I settled on our usual Saturday outing with Mom – lunch. We considered our usual restaurants, where we’d sit in our usual spots and Mom would order her usual meal (fish ‘n chips). As usual, we’d eat and go home. (Honestly, we might as well just get take-out)

No. Mom deserved something bigger this week… Say, the Cheesecake Factory at the local mall. It would have all the makings of an epic outing; eclectic food, families with young children (Mom loves those…), visual stimulation, music, and lots of color.

In theory, The Factory sounded perfect, but practically speaking, there were potential potholes everywhere – parking being #1. Each of the Super Seniors enjoying coffee and conversation in the food court would have parked their Crown Vicky (at an angle) in one of the primo (but limited) handicap spaces. Although Husband could deposit us right at the curb, we’d still have a quarter mile stroll to the entrance… plus additional steps to our seats… plus more steps to the restroom (a given). Then, there’d be the inevitable “20 minute wait” for a table, made bearable for Mom only if a well-mannered millennial surrendered their seat. Sure…   

Added to the potential parking/walking/waiting dilemma was the Factory menu; 22 pages of multi-component fusion food covering everything from salads to sushi. Couple that with Mom’s waning vision, and her review of the menu could take hours. I wasn’t sure my patience was up to the task.

So, I stalled. Maybe taking Mom to the Cheesecake Factory wasn’t such a good idea after all.

But, Husband’s “go button” had been pushed and I could tell he’d moved on to the logistics; cane, walker, rollator, wheelchair or a combo. Several months prior, he’d had an epiphany that we should buy a  second hand wheelchair. I‘d been reluctant because it sounded so final, but the wheelchair turned out to be a game changer, capable of expanding our Saturday lunch experience exponentially.

Those four little wheels could help us conquer the Factory and the mall…  No usuals for us… We were set to have a full-on adventure. By Mom’s account, it had been more than 25 years since she’d been to a mall, so there would be a lot of new-and-interestings.

Husband dropped us at the curb (um… apparently lots of seniors conversing over coffee that day), and we rolled right in. Turns out that the first Saturday after school starts is a prime time to visit the Factory; we were greeted and seated within minutes. I helped Mom navigate the massive menu to some items I knew she’d enjoy; avocado eggrolls (…she loves anything in eggroll form…), fish tacos, and raspberry cheesecake. So far, so good - our adventure was living up to all our expectations.  

Phase 2 proved even better. We started at one end of the mall and skirted the periphery - slowly. (No one looks more comfortable in a wheelchair than Mom with her legs crossed in a regal, queen-like pose). Husband pushed, while I watched Mom as she connected the commercials she’d seen on TV, with the actual products in the store windows. She exuded a kind of enthusiastic energy I hadn’t seen in a while… Beaming would be an understatement.

Mom found the people at the mall as interesting as the storefronts. She noted three other seniors in wheelchairs, giving them each a knowing nod and wave… like a secret handshake. I found myself wondering if wheelchair-envy is a thing… if one kind is “better” than another, and if so, where did Mom’s stand on the wheelchair desirability scale?

And, what’s a trip to the mall without a purchase? JC Penney was Mecca; new shoes and a fuzzy sweater - on sale.  

By 3:00, despite Mom’s apparent energy reserve, I was ready for a nap. Mom summed up her gratitude for our mall adventure by exclaiming it to be the best day of her life. Perhaps just a tad over-stated, but we’ll take it.

By shelving my innate tendency to catastrophize, we were able to sidestep potholes, and I’d learned a few things myself that Saturday:

-          My husband is the best son-in-law in the world

-          Mom loves the mall

-          Mom’s wheelchair affords her freedom to go places she couldn’t otherwise go, and

-          At 92, Mom can still be the funnest person in the room (or the mall…)

I think it’s safe to say that we’ll definitely do this again... Maybe we’ll even make it a usual.



Emily Gaffney8 Comments