Great Blood Pressure, Too
By Steve Carr
Who better to write about this month than my mother, who was born the same year as the first radio broadcast in Idaho. I looked it up.
It’s Saturday morning and she’s in the kitchen emptying the dishwasher. I ought to be helping but I’m on the couch writing this. We just read the newspaper and finished the crossword. I didn’t know what a “yenta” was but she did. Look it up. Mom is not, nor has ever been, a yenta.
My siblings and I trade off staying with Mom at her house, not so much because she needs someone to care for her but because we enjoy it and we’re still gleaning. The house is quiet first thing in the morning. Mom prefers her “hot drink” before anything—even before hearing aids. Today I caught her adding a teaspoon of instant to the fresh brew I served. So much for my special treat. Maybe I’ll learn.
“How many thousands are there in a million?” were her first words today. I had to think for a beat—and I serve on a community bank board. She could have done the math, or safer, looked it up, but her “almost banker” son seemed a reliable source. Mom hasn’t spent a lot of time studying finance. She does still balance her checkbook. Money does not interest her. Birds and blooms and school buses out her kitchen window are her pearls. So why the question about a thousand thousands, you ask. On occasion Mom wonders out loud if she’ll have enough money to last her lifetime. I brush it off by suggesting she’s a millionaire. A small fib in terms of bank accounts, but true by any other standard. Anyway, I told her how many thousands there are in a million. (You can look it up.)
“Well, then,” she said, “I can pay for the new carpet you kids say I need.” Her carpet is 50 years old but “it’s perfectly fine.” She added, “You might need your money for something important.”
I get a kick out of it when Mom calls us “kids.” Her surviving children are in their sixties and seventies. She gazed out the window for some time before saying, “I used to walk a mile to the Kimberly General Store to buy the Sunday paper for a dime. I’ve come a long way.”
Do you think? More than a hundred years ago, her dad, my grandpa, immigrated here. He was a trained architect who traded Denmark and desk work for a forty-acre southern Idaho farm, where he and Grandma raised more than just crops.
We checked each other’s blood pressure after breakfast. Mom’s was 128 over 65. Mine wasn’t quite as good. She’s in the shower now. I worry that she might fall. She says she “hangs on tight,” and then with a chuckle, calls me a “nag.”
She’ll read some Steinbeck or Vardis Fisher before a nap after lunch and then we’ll go to the dollar store to buy laundry soap. We’ll have leftovers for dinner. Maybe tonight we’ll watch a Bogart movie. Last night we watched the Utah Jazz. Our favorite players are the ones who compete with a grin. The game was closely contested. It came down to clutch time and we were riveted. “That Rudy Gobert can play great defense—when he finally puts his mind to it,” she said, then saluted goodbye as she headed off to bed. A good day.
Other celebrated folks born in 1922 include: Betty White, Doris Day, and Jack Kerouac. A very good year. Look it up.