My mother has been gone since 2001. We were very close, especially after she moved to Hutchinson when my father died. We did lots of things together; I took her shopping, we went out to eat together, I did her hair every week and drove her to the doctor in Wichita every six weeks.
Since she has been gone I have missed having a mother in my life. For a short time the neighbor across the street took over the role. Then we lost her and her husband a few years apart and I was set adrift again. I missed having someone to watch out for and to watch out for me.
When I started to work at Wesley Towers about 6 years ago it was a perfect fit for me. I worked in independent living in the 5 story Towers apartment building. I was a medical driver; driving the residents back and forth to their doctor appointments.
I loved the job because I had 90-100 residents in the Towers and the attached Manor apartments that I could look out for. And yes boss around on occasion; not that they listened. They weren’t any better at it than my mother had been.
Some of the residents became friends very fast and some became like family. There are two women that are real characters; one lives in the Manor and one in the Towers. These two love to stir up trouble.
The one in the Manor I met first and she is such a character that I started to call her “trouble”. When I’d see her in the hall or out and about with her daughter somewhere I’d yell; “Hi trouble!” She would yell back at me: “Hi sister…….. it takes one to know one.”
You notice that the name “trouble” for the lady in the Manor is in small letters; that is important when I tell you about the lady in the Towers. I am not really sure when I started to become friends with the one in the Towers, it just seemed to happen.
Both of these women are in the Life Story Writing Class. In the class I ask the residents to put some of their memories in stories for their families. I choose subjects that are challenging and then others that are just about funny things that have happened. I try to think of things they might not have told their family.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that I had two in the class that were trouble. So how to distinguish between them…… “trouble” lives in the Manor, so I decided the one in the Towers would be called “TROUBLE”. The one in the Towers is just a little ornerier than the one that lives in the Manor so her name would be all capitals.
In class “trouble” sits right next to me at the table and behaves, but all that changes when she is not in class. “TROUBLE” changes where she sits in class sometimes, but she always sits as far away from me as she can so she can act up.
Along the way I began to get closer to “TROUBLE” and we had to come up with a way to keep the boss, who no longer works there, from knowing we were close friends. That boss didn’t want any of the staff working under her to get close to the residents.
I started sending “TROUBLE” my stories every week and when we started to email each other she became a.m.T. which stands for “adopted mom “TROUBLE” and I am a.d.s. which stands for adopted daughter sandy.
We signed and addressed each email with those initials. I hoped if that boss got into a.m.T.’s computer she wouldn’t understand the initials. It wasn’t necessary after the other boss left and especially now that I am retired but we still use the initials because of what they stand for.
In a lot of ways a.m.T. reminds me a lot of my mom who was stubborn and very independent. My mom didn’t like her daughter telling her what to do at any time. But she learned in the last few years of her life that the tables had turned and her daughter had taken over being the boss.
My a.m.T. didn’t have children. So it has been even harder for her to get used to having a daughter (adopted or otherwise) in her life giving her orders and trying to keep her on the straight and narrow.
If she gives me too much argument about something, like taking a pill that makes her feel better, I tell her: “Don’t make me come in there and bring the stick!” She has heard all the stories about me making fast trips to town to check on mom and how I threatened to bring the stick with me.
I got worried one day when I hadn’t received an email all morning from a.m.T. and almost went in to check on her. I could have asked the girls at the desk to send someone up to check on her but decided to wait until after lunch. If a resident doesn’t come down for lunch, or let them know they are ok but not eating that day, they automatically check on them.
She seemed surprised when I scolded her after I finally heard from her after lunch that day. I told her I was about ready to come in there. I then said: “starting tomorrow I want a text when you get up and if I don’t have one by 10:00 am I am calling the desk and sending some one up. Then I will be in the car and on my way to town.”
Everyday now I get a text when she gets up, just like I used to get a phone call from my mom when she was up and around. I am actually amazed that she agreed to do that but she has been very faithful letting me know she is up and around.
My a.m.T. has not asked me go to the doctor with her yet, but if she asked me to I would do that for her. She knows I can deal with them but I would probably embarrass her. She worked in the medical field so she can deal with them pretty well on her own.
Even though I am old enough to be a grandmother I still need a mother figure in my life. My a.m.T. has stepped into my mom’s large shoes and filled them well. It has been a steep learning curve but she is getting the hang of being my a.m.T. To contact sandy: email@example.com