Togetherness. It’s a word that brings up good feelings. Most people don’t want to be alone. Many individuals thrive on interaction with others. I had a day of togetherness last Friday. I’m not sure it lives up to the hype.
My elderly mother needed a ride to her dental appointment. Although I was happy to help, it’s nerve-wracking to have anyone in my car. I was anxious, but it hadn’t been that long since I had taken her to another appointment, and that one went smoothly. I was hoping for a repeat of that day. The drive to the office was fine, but Mom had a surprise for me after the appointment: She needed to go to a pharmacy. That sounded easy enough, but the situation was fraught with problems. Mother didn’t feel like going into the pharmacy herself after having an invasive dental procedure. If I went in, she would be alone in my car. There was no way I was going to leave anyone alone in my car. I suppose if it came down to it, and I had no choice, I would come back to the car and assume that everything had been contaminated. I would put on gloves to drive home and begin my extensive cleaning rituals. But I desperately wanted to avoid that. Was I being overly paranoid? You decide.
My mother wanted to go to a new pharmacy, and I can’t describe how elated I was when I saw that they had a drive-up window. Problem solved! Oh, if it were only that simple. I knew I was going to have to sacrifice a clean hand to the germ gods. I would have to take the prescription slip from Mother (sitting on the passenger’s side, which I can’t even attempt to keep clean) and hand it to the person at the window. I prepared myself mentally for this as I pulled up to the building. I was maneuvering the car into position, when Mom became overanxious and whipped out the prescription slip, eagerly extending her arm across the front of the steering wheel. I think she thought that she might be able to reach the window somehow and that she was making it easier for me. But it did not make anything easier. Quite the opposite. Now my stress escalated exponentially. Not only did I have to take the slip from her to hand to the pharmacist’s assistant, I now had a contaminated surface to deal with.
I asked how long it would take to fill the prescription and was told that it would be a half-hour. Here another complication presented itself. Too far from home to go wait there, we had to stay and find a shady spot to escape the heat while we waited. I found a tree to park under, and how did I pass the time? Cleaning my steering wheel. That’s not an easy task with only one clean hand. I pulled wipes out of the packet with my clean hand while holding the end with the dirty hand. My mother didn’t ask any questions – she’s used to it.
When the time had passed, we drove back to the pharmacy. There was more tension. There was a different assistant at the window, and the first one had gotten Mom’s name wrong on the paperwork. Identification had to be passed back and forth, as did payment and the medication itself. All the while I was trying to keep my dirty hand from cross-contaminating my clean hand or my newly cleaned steering wheel.
Finally we were on the way home. I tried to chat a little, but it’s difficult when I’m tensed up after an experience such as that. Mom didn’t say much either. My anxiety stresses her out. Oh, and she had gauze in her mouth. But we had togetherness that day. We spent time together and shared our lives. And then I spent a long time cleaning the rest of my car when I got home.