Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Baby-sitting the Big Girls, Oh My!


Every other year I have this “baby-sitting” gig. It's a big job and tougher than one might think but I'm happy to do it. 

My two charges are in their mid-70s. One has a newish hip with a tendency to fall and the other has two bad knees.

They are my mother and her best friend.

My mother’s best friend, Dolly, is a wonderful British woman who swings through the states every other year, as she makes her trip halfway around the world back to Sydney. When she stays, she stays for 6-8 weeks on average. Not with me but with my mom and dad. To say they have fun with each other is an understatement. We love it!

And every time she visits, they ask me to take them into the city. It's a very short Metra commute from where I live and it’s easy.

So what makes this challenging you ask?

They are unsteady on their feet. They drink a lot of wine. They have an agenda. A dangerous combination but that’s why I’m there. Did I mention it’s a full day affair?

At one moment I’ll be walking with them, side-by-side, listening to their funny stories. The next thing I realize, I’m almost a block ahead of them. I walk back.

The day before New Year Eve, two years ago, was the chosen day. The city was crowded. Mom and Dolly ate, drank and shopped their way around Chicago. 

Getting them back to Union Station for the trip home was like culling a cattle herd of two. We had a specific train to catch and, at the rate we were moving, we needed to pick up the pace to even have a chance of making it. It became obvious that wasn't going to happen so they sat and had another glass of wine.

Successfully seated on the next train 45 minutes later, I took a deep breath. We made it. I phoned ahead to my son for a pick up on the other end. We only live two streets from the village train station but I didn’t want to take the chance of walking them up the hill to my house in the dark.

As always, I forewarned them not to get too cozy as departing the train is tricky (for them) and our station comes up fast. Be prepared to exit BEFORE it stops. They’ve heard the speech before.

The conductor called out “Next stop Western Springs. Western Springs.”

“Ok, ladies. Let’s start wrapping things up.”

“Hiiiinsdale. Next stop is Hinsdale.”

“Up, up! Time to get to the door now. Remember, one stop ahead.”

They were not prepared. My mom was putting on fresh lipstick. Dolly was looking through her packages.

“Now. We need to go NOW!”

Pulling into town, I saw our car at the curb through the train's window.

I couldn’t get them to the door in time and as we descended the stairs, the doors began to close. As the doors were closing, my mother stuck her hand between them  as if they were elevator doors sensored to open. 

The doors closed on the palm of her hand, wrist on the inside, fingers AND PURSE on the outside.

Then my phone rang.

“You guys didn’t get off. There’s a purse swinging outside the train door.”

“Honey, I gotta go. Pick us up at the next stop! MOTHER! Why did you do that? 

“I thought it would open if I stuck my hand in.”

“It doesn’t work that way. Is your hand okay? Does it hurt?”

“No. My purse is just getting heavy out there because the train is moving fast.”

“Drop it if you have to.” It weighs a ton.

“I am NOT letting go of this thing. All my stuff is in it and my good ring is out there, too.”

Oh, jeeze!

Once I realized she was ok; she wasn’t hurt. The only thing I could do was sit on the stairs, place my face in my hands and laugh hysterically. Tears were streaming down my cheeks as my mom hung on.

Arriving in the next town, we stepped off the train laughing, as people who’d just had a lovely day together would. No harm, no foul.

And as we drove home, I whispered to my son, “Thanks for picking us up. That was grandma’s purse swinging outside the train. Best not to tell grandpa.”

After the last time, I wasn’t so sure I could handle them anymore. So it was with great trepidation that I agreed again this Holiday season and accepted the gig. Things went off without a hitch. I did a good and safe job with everyone arriving home in one piece including their belongings.

It's sort of a "circle of life" thing. I hope I have a qualified baby-sitter when I'm their age.

48 comments:

  1. Gina, this is so great. Your writing and the story are magnificent. And, having been there, I can say this is so so real. I can tell you cherish these moments, as well you should, because, it will be more challenging over time. But I still do it with folks in their 90s. :):)

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    1. It was a day I'll remember for the REST of my life. Hilarious from start to finish. That said, being "in charge" of them in a busy city is a bit of work but soooo worth it. I know it gets that way from my husband's parents. We will always do more than what we think we can because we love them. Thanks for liking my memory!

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  2. I think this ranks among the best I have read here. I really enjoyed your story, made me laugh out loud.

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    1. So happy to hear. I haven't made you laugh out loud in a long time ;-) I'm happy you enjoyed it!

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  3. thanks for the smile. at least you get to drink wine with them!! sounds like a lovely and challenging day. :)

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    1. It was lovely and not so challenging until it became important. Yes, I had a few glasses but I was definitely the one who needed to have facilities about them.

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  4. So funny she thought the doors work like an elevator!!

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  5. This was so funny. How lovely that you spend the day with your mom and her friend. They sound like a riot.

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    1. I'm happy you thought it was funny. Thanks for your comment, Christie!

      They are much more than a mere riot. We just returned home from spending the evening with them. We laughed so hard our cheeks hurt.

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  6. I would have done the same thing! What kind of mass transportation door doesn't have a sensor on it? "Cattle herd of two" - haha!

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    1. The Chicago Transportation System that's who doesn't have sensors. It's a very old system. They were so distracted, going this way and that. It wasn't easy. It was funny!

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  7. I love this. I hope I hit the town like Dolly & your mom when I am that age.

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  8. So stressful herding the ladies around all day, I would have been in tears too! Thank goodness they turned out to be the good kind! Your mom and Dolly sound wonderful :)

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    1. I have to be on top of my game to shepard these two around a bustling city during the holidays. I can't remember a time where I panicked-laughed so hard. They are a blast but I must watch carefully.

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  9. Oh, Gina, I so needed a laugh tonight and you gave me that gift! The image of her hand stuck outside the train and your son noticing it? TOO AWESOME! So gald she wasn't hurt and you had a better trip this year :)

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    1. Yea! I'm happy I gave you a laugh. He was shocked and then to find out it was his very own grandmother. Well, he wasn't so surprised to find out it was her, really. Apples don't fall far. I take after her and he takes after me.

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  10. Thanks for the laugh. What a great story and we could relive it through your writing. That image of the purse outside the train and your mother hanging on. Hilarious.

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    1. Thanks, Jamie. Her purse must weigh 15lbs. I swear! She said it was challenging when the train began to pick up speed.

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  11. hahahaha this was HYSTERICAL!! :) the imagery was awesome, i could just see the dang purse and feel it getting heavy with the speed of the train. too stinkin funny. i'm so impressed she was able to hang on to it!

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    1. Well, you know those trains and how fast they go. Usually people sleep through there stops and have to call home. Not us! She's a tough cookie. I had no doubt she'd hang on for dear life.

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  12. This was so great! I agree, I hope I have someone like you when I am that age (because you know I'll be a wine drinking old lady too - although I'll forgo the lipstick ;)

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    1. Maybe we could do this together ;-) My mom doesn't go anywhere with lipstick and can't believe I don't wear it. I will swipe some gloss every now and then but that's about it.

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  13. Love this! I hope I have that much energy and spunk when I'm in my mid-70s :)

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    1. You will! I'm so happy you liked it!

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  14. Ahahaha! I wish there had been a picture of the purse. That's classic. Your son's comment is what makes it.

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    1. I so very much wish we had a picture. I was panicked at first but once I found out she was ok, I couldn't help but collapse into laughter. It was like he was purely making an observation without knowing what the heck was going on. It would be an unusual site.

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  15. Definitely need a picture! It would go viral on Facebook and Twitter! What a lovely story and a heart-warming tradition. Well done, Gina! My folks live near Hinsdale so I know the train and station intimately! Here's to you being the best babysitter ever!

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    1. I wish I had a video. I can't even imagine but I have a pretty good visual...from the inside! We actually live in the next town, Hinsdale's sleepy sister, Clarendon Hills. I did great THIS year and they behaved too.

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  16. That is the funniest story I've read in a long time!!! I can just picture your mom not letting go of the purse, and see it swinging it the breeze! It's a miracle she didn't drop it! Fortunately the stations are close together! ;) I used to take the Metra to work every day, and I hated missing the 5:05 or whatever it was, because it was a long half-hour to wait for the next one!

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    1. That's kind of the situation we were in when we missed the first one. The next station was only a mike and a half away. Did I know you lived in Chicago? I'm happy you laughed.

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  17. I just need to tell you that I absolutely love your mom. Fierce woman, to hang onto the purse like that!

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    1. She was determined not to let go. Where there's a will...

      My mom is great so thanks for saying that.

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  18. Excuse me but this is stunning. I love this: They are unsteady on their feet. They drink a lot of wine. They have an agenda. A dangerous combination but that’s why I’m there. Did I mention it’s a full day affair?.

    You will sweep YW awards. Well done.

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    1. You are SO kind to say that! Congratulations to Jamie for her double win!

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  19. Oh my God, that's hilarious! They sound like such awesome characters! I'm going to have a mental image of a 70 year old drunk firecracker holding a purse out of the train door all day.

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    1. Thanks! She is a firecracker. That's a great way to put it!

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  20. I'm picturing the whole thing and it's like a Benny Hill or a Python sketch! Hysterical! Must've been a riot seeing it happen! Great, great story Gina!

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    1. Comparing it to those hilarious sketches is making me laugh. Thanks for liking Mod Mom

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  21. How cute and charming. I especially loved this line: "They are unsteady on their feet. They drink a lot of wine. They have an agenda." It made me think of an extremely elderly Thelma & Louise kind of gig going on there. So sweet and funny.

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    1. They ARE like T and L! Thanks Angela.

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  22. Gina! Oh my is right. You got my night cough going after laughing hysterically once I realized you mom was okay AND she didn't lose her purse. This was so funny. I bet they are too adorable.

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    1. Night couch! She was fine but not really laughing yet. I'm sure it was hard to hold on! They're really, REALLY funny. We laugh a lot!

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  23. Haha!! This had me laughing and I'm totally imagining your mom holding onto her purse!!!! Lol

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    1. Great! I was laughing writing and remembering the whole thing. It came up at Christmas and my dad still doesn't know?

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  24. This was hysterical! I so want to hang out with these two and be like them someday myself. What a great story!

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  25. LOL I had to come read this again just for the giggles. Luckily I found it with the word search "purse".

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