We all want to be a diving granny someday. Poppy still wears a bathing suit in public. She swims. She gets her hair wet and lets it air dry. Pool mamas, their eyes hidden behind sunglasses and visors, watch the diving granny as she removes her baseball cap, steps out of her shorts, approaches the side of the pool and, toes pointed, leaps from the edge. Swoosh. She surfaces with her grayish-blondish hair plastered to her head.
Coiffed baby-mamas with fresh manicures quit flipping the pages of magazines and gasp. Their hearts cheer the diving granny, because, of course, we all want to be her someday.
We all want to wrangle chickens and cultivate miniature cows and eat dinner off of Blue Willow china and drink caffeine-free diet coke from a crystal glass, just like her. Most of us never will. But for everyone who has ever told me, “I want to be your mother when I grow up,” the Patels may show them the way.
My mama and daddy went missing on a Friday. My mother frowns upon panic, so I went to the garden and weeded my collards and waited for news. Saturday afternoon I received word that she and my daddy had run away and were staying with the Patels.
She e-mailed: We are up in the mountains this weekend. Our van is filled with junk we have bought unintentionally while trying to find apples for sale. We are in Blairsville tonight. As soon as we find apples, we will buy some boxes of them, wedge them in among the chairs and settee and various brickabrack and start back. The people in my “Farmers Group” have all been coming up here for apples, and so we thought they would be all over the place. We saw one stand but didn’t stop because we thought we were just getting warm. It will be to N.C. tomorrow to find where all the apples are. We will get plenty for all of us. We are staying with the Patels tonight.
Maybe this is how Alzheimer’s starts – on Thursday a person’s parents are at home and accounted for and on Saturday they’ve taken the car and moved in with strangers. I ventured reality orientation in my reply: I hope the Patels have put you in their best room. Perhaps they can guide you to where the apples are hidden.
On Sunday, my mother messaged again: It is almost 3 p.m. and at last we have the apples. We are just leaving the orchard with Cameos and Jonagolds, thanks be to God. Also, and from various locations, we have a settee, a table, two chairs, 12 barbed wire stars, 12 birdhouses, 5 plants, two safety vests, 10 door mats, various cups and figurines, 4 cowboy hats, 2 hornets nests, 2 large gem stones, other miscellany too numerous to mention, and a large chocolate malt. We are turning for home, as soon as we figure out this convoluted intersection here.
I pictured my father, dressed in an orange safety vest, revolving the car in a round-about and my mother, wearing a cowboy hat, flailing at a swarm of hornets, ordering him to exit after each orbit. This is not how Alzheimer’s starts. This is how good adventures end. And intervention by the Patels or not, most of us will never achieve this level of nirvana.