Mom and I took her two cats to their annual vet visit.
Mom no longer knows which name goes with which cat, she knows the two names, and recites them like a song or poem, she will tell you a story about why she named them what she did, but can't tell you which one is which. Last year, I asked the vet to note on the cats' records their markings and temperament, so we could identify them without names: larger cat with black circles and smaller gray-striped skittish cat.
She watched the vet-tech weigh the cats and cut their toenails. The vet-tech went out to get their vaccinations. I told Mom to come pat the skittish cat, to help calm him down. Mom did so, leaning over him, patting him, and crying into his fur.
"Mom, he's ok, nothing's wrong with him, he's just scared. "
He's always this way, even at your house. He's just a antisocial skittish cat. He hates riding in cars. He hates being out of the closet, yes, he spends most of his day hiding in the closet.
"Mom, please wipe your nose. Your tissue is in your pocket." It's running all over the cat, she can't stop crying.
"I don't have to wipe my nose, you're not my mother."
The vet and the vet-tech come back into the room. Mom wipes her nose on the sleeve of her turtleneck jersey. (It was 86' out today and Mom would not change out of her turtleneck jersey, but that's a different battle.)
Over the next fifteen minutes she asked the vet-tech and the vet, five times if they are going to cut the cats' nails. The fifth time Mom asks, the vet smiles and asks the tech, did you cut their nails? They always answered the question politely, each time, never showing exasperation or frustration.
I watch as Mom write out a check to pay her bill. What's the name again? How much is it? I point to the price on the receipt. What's the date? I quickly say "2-0-1-0". I watch her fumble, trying to write out the dollar amount, how to make the numbers into words. The words run off the line and spill down like water. She goes to make this entry into the checkbook register, she writes the check number in the wrong column, she puts down the dollar amount but not the cents, she gets frustrated and wants to write the check number down, again, I tell her it's already there. "But it's in the wrong place." she yells at me.
This trip to the vets has exhausted her, she doesn't want to go out for lunch, she doesn't want to go pick up the mail or groceries. She is spent. "Drive safely" she says, this is her rote good-bye saying. I haven't even got the cats back into her house. She rushes me out of her house as fast as she can, she can't wait for me to be gone.