Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Perfect Picnic...

My Mom is 93 years old. I'm sure she'd hate me telling her age to the world, but she should be proud to have successfully reached that age.

Aging isn't for the weak and timid, and Mom's never been either of these!

She's one of the many reasons I'm so happy to be back in my home state of New Jersey. I try to see her at least once a week and preferably twice. The clock is ticking and I'm making the most of it.

The other day I had to take her to an emergency visit to her retina specialist. Although Mom is in good general health, her eyes are failing rather rapidly and this time she had a rupture in her right eye. She woke up seeing mostly brown, black, orange and red!

So, I left work early to take her to her appointment far out in western Jersey. I left earlier than I needed to because it was a beautiful day (and also because Mom was REALLY upset) and I thought, "I'm going to make this day nice for Mom. We'll have a picnic out in the countryside!"

I quickly made the plans in my head:

  • Pick up sandwiches at the great deli by my friend Patty's house out in Budd Lake, N.J.
  • Pack two beach chairs.
  • Pick up Mom's favorite beer. (Hey! We're Irish! We don't pack Snapple...)

The perfect picnic beverage....

As I drove, I pictured the scene - Mom and I by the lakeside... sipping our Yuengling's... and enjoying our time together...

I've said it before... my plans always give God a big chuckle...

I picked up Mom at her "Adult Community" and headed right out - very excited to make the day special (and take her mind off the doctor's visit!)

Half an hour later I was in the deli ordering our picnic meal. A lovely Asian couple owns the place. There goes my stereotype prejudice of delis either being Italian or Jewish in order to be good! (Note to self - work on being more open minded...)

Since the deli is right across the street from Budd Lake, I looked at it out the window and asked the owner, "Where can my mother and I picnic along the lake?"

"Oh," he replied. "Budd Lake is private! You need to pay to go in."


Only in Jersey...

Budd Lake - my perfect picnic plan...

"Plan B Mom," I said as I got in the car.  I actually DID have a "Plan B." I wasn't a Girl Scout for nothing!

I headed for a fishery I knew was just a couple of miles away. Mom and Dad had taken us there when we were kids. This would be even BETTER than stupid Budd Lake!

Thank God for GPS. The place was in the middle of NO-where! "How did Dad ever find this place without a GPS, Mom?" I complained. "Your father could find anything," she smugly replied.

So, driving down some teeny street and peering ahead at some wooded area I spotted a man on the corner. A man in an orange vest standing next to some kind of road equipment.

He came to the car, to my mother's window, and I asked how to get to the fishery.

"Oh, you gals aren't going to the fishery," he smiled and said. "We just started paving the road an hour and a half ago."


The road has been DIRT for about a hundred years and TODAY - our SPECIAL day - they decide to pave it?!!

I could hear God chuckling somewhere out there...

God's plan...

He saw my stricken face, winked and told me a "secret way" I could get to the fishery parking lot. We couldn't actually go in, it was closed for the construction, but we could "at least sit in the parking lot near it."

"We have to get to the doctor's soon, Karen!" Mom cried. (Yeah Mom... in three hours and the doctor is about a mile from the fishery...) She then added, "And I'm HOT!"

My old Volvo's air conditioning broke last year. We haven't gotten around to fixing it since this summer's been cool. Cool until TODAY, that is... (God is really wearing on my last nerve...)

Well, the construction guy's "secret way" through Centenary College didn't work because of a closed gate barring our way.

"I HAVE to get out of this car!" Mom yelled.

Aaargh! I pulled into a "Professor's Only" parking lot and parked under some trees on the far side. "This is it!" I yelled back. "I'll get the chairs."

A perfect picnic spot...

So, I set us up next to the car in a shaded spot on the asphalt. (We couldn't go on the lawn - too lumpy - and Mom can't see the lumps).

I shoved a turkey-on-whole wheat at her and sat down. Damn! The Yuengling's were sitting in her fridge back home...

Sipping on some warm bottled water I found on the floor of the Volvo, I finally collapsed in the folding chair and tried to enjoy the breeze and view of three pine trees near the curb.

"What's that noise?" I thought. Looking to Mom's right I could see roofers on one of the college's roofs. Great... I didn't say a thing. Mom can't hear well anyway...

Gazing through the pines I saw swarms of dust kicking up. The construction trucks were rumbling past us about 50 feet away!


"What's that smell?" I asked Mom through the dirt in my teeth.

"Tar," she replied.

"Well, it can't get any worse!" we laughed...

A few minutes later I glanced at her and said, "Mom, you have a fly on your arm."

"That's not a fly," she mumbled through a mouthful of turkey. "It's a bee."

Damn! It wasn't ONE bee. I saw at least three around her arm!

I HATE bees! I'm highly allergic!

One of my biggest phobias!

Picturing an emergency visit to the hospital, I jumped up and ran.

"Oh, God! I'm leaving my Mother stranded!" I ran back to her and started swatting them with my sandwich wrapper. They came after me and I ran again. "Oh, God! I'm a HORRIBLE daughter!" I ran back and swatted.

This went on a couple more times. I could hear the roofers laughing from afar...

Finally my Mom was standing, clutching her sandwich remains as bees swarmed it. "Throw the sandwich Mom!" I screamed. She just stood there looking at the soggy piece of bread. "Throw the sandwich!!!"

NEVER say these words to a Depression-era Baby...

Grudgingly... finally... she raised BOTH arms and tossed the remnant onto the curb. The bees went for it and I pushed her into the car. The VERY hot car.

"Let's get to the doctor's office," she said. "At least it'll be cool THERE."

"But, Mom the appointment isn't for at least another couple of hours," I cried.

And, that's where we ended up.

But, boy we've been laughing about that day ever since. Maybe God does have good plans...