(Mom sips her juice in bed) I’m peeing at the same time. —Mom, my multitasker
It seems that many, if not all, seniors are obsessed with Kleenex tissues. A Kleenex to stifle a runny nose, to catch a trickle of drool, or to erase, with a little spit, that smudge on a grandchild’s face. Neatly folded or hastily balled, crammed up a sleeve or stashed in a pocket, cherished in any condition, and always at the ready, Kleenex tissues are a senior’s best friend.
Mom also loved her Kleenex, perhaps more than most. She used one tissue over and over until rendering it utterly useless. After each assault, she stuffed those soggy shreds up her sleeve for safe keeping.
When I first discovered this nasty habit and attempted to replace the old, tattered tissue with a new one, she immediately and unequivocally rejected my offer. When I tried to wrestle it from her clutches, she fought me tooth and nail. Extracting that trace of a tissue turned into a fierce battle of wills, more agonizing than separating an obstinate child from her baby blanket. Was I battling the last bastion of the Great Depression? Did this pathetic clump of fibers represent something more than I realized? The answer was a resounding no. That brave tissue served her well. It lasted far beyond what the inventors intended or dared to imagine, and it deserved a swift and proper burial.
Mom may have been as stubborn as they come—and, at times, impossible—but she met her match with me. And I had no intention of giving in. Instead, I used my well-honed powers of persuasion I often employed during our time together.
“I’ll give you this brand-new, right-out-of-the-box, super-soft tissue, good for several uses, in exchange for that disgusting, disease-carrying one.” If she hedged, I added, “And the new one comes with a hot cup of tea.”
Hoping to avoid our own highly inevitable Kleenex addiction, my sister Laurel and I entered a pact. If either of us ever caught the other stuffing a tissue in any condition up his or her sleeve, they shall be put to death with the offender’s blessing. So far, so good.