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THE MARGUERITE CHRONICLES: May 1, 2017:

Mama no longer takes showers on her own, and getting her to agree to one takes some major coaxing and coaching. So this story starts one year ago, and goes backwards from there.

May 1, 2016:  After I told Mama we were going to see a show tonight, she surprised me by announcing she’d take a shower. She’s still capable of doing those things with minimal help, but I usually have to cajole her into the tub, like with a cattle prod. I was delighted she was showering of her own volition. I heard the shower running, and after it turned off, I went in to help her out — and help her out was exactly what she needed. Her bathtub seat had disappeared from the tub. (I found it in the guest room later.) She showered without it, and then, after she got out, she sat down precariously on the side of the tub and slid bass-ackwards into it. I found her sitting sideways in the tub with her knees hinged over the edge, patiently waiting for me to come help her out. Thankfully, I was able to cross my arms, lock our wrists, and pull her out. She went back to her room – I finished dressing and went to help her to the car, but she’d crawled under the covers, and was wearing my clothes! We got the clothes changed (again), and she was tickled to be going to ‘the theatah’. I’m happy to report there were no further incidents!

Today, one year later, we’re looking for her teeth. Again. I hope to find them in time to meet dear friends John and Betty, who’ve invited us to Villa Tuscanna in honor of Mama’s 97th birthday.  I really don’t want to go dumpster-diving for teeth today.  The  denture adventures of the past several years will last me forever.

Three years ago, on her April 14 birthday,  Mama threw her teeth away in a napkin at Hoskin’s Restaurant.  That was one expensive lunch, even though the waitress brought key lime pie  on-the-house  in honor of Mama’s birthday.

Going to the denture people is worse than pulling teeth. Pure torture. It’s not their fault, they do the best they can, but oh, the agony. We were staying in an ocean-front condo over on the beach that week, and I made an appointment to get new teeth, gnashing mine ’cause we were paying an oceanfront price for a day of  pure-tee denture distress.

We got Mama up early that morning, and told her we needed to dress quickly to leave for the appointment.  I went into the kitchen to check a few things, and came back to her bedroom to help her — but she was nowhere to be found.  The place had 4 bedrooms, so it took a few minutes to find her.

And we found her, this woman who has always preferred showers to baths, lying on her back, slippery wet and nekkid as a jaybird, in the tub.  And she couldn’t get out. ‘Twas not a pretty sight.

I tried pulling her up, but I was already in major hip pain headed for surgery, so it didn’t work.  I figured we might have to call 911 to get her out, but my sister, Margie, who is 2 inches taller, and had hips that worked, and better leverage, came to the rescue.   She planted both feet in the tub, straddling Mama, reached down and body-hugged her.  Up they came, slipping and sliding on the wet porcelain.

I tried to quick-dry Mama and get her dressed.

“MAMA!  We’re due at the doctor down in Myrtle Beach in 30 minutes. We have to hustle!  Why in the world did you decide to get in the tub?”

“Well — we’re just going over here to the Gentle Dental, down the street!”

I was flabbergasted. Nobody had ever once mentioned, much less pointed out, Gentle Dental. She’d read the sign – we drive by it every day. When she heard we were going to get new teeth, she assumed it was Gentle Dental. Heck, they don’t even do dentures.  How I wish they did.

Take care of your teeth, folks, so you won’t have to send your daughters dumpster-diving in your old age.  ‘Cause if you live to be ninety-seven, it’ll be their old age, too.