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Aunt Henrietta

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Hello, again! It’s Margie Johnson, the owner of the Hot Dish Heaven Café, with more news from the Red River Valley of Northwestern Minnesota.

I just got home from visitin’ my aunt Henrietta, don’t ya know. We moved her into the nursin’ home a few weeks ago, after it became clear she couldn’t stay at home, even though Hester, her sister, lives with her.

Ya see, Henrietta’s a big, Scandinavian woman, and once her legs get wobbly, Hester, who’s so small she could be a teller at a piggy bank, can’t help her. Fact is, one day, when Hester was leadin’ her into the livin’ room so they could watch “Wheel of Fortune,” Henrietta’s legs gave ’way, and she dropped down on little, old Hester right there in the recliner.

It was one of them lift chairs, so Henrietta tried to catapult ’em out by pressin’ the remote-control really hard. But, of course, the chair only tilted forward at its normal speed, and Henrietta and Hester ended up slidin’ onto the floor. And that’s where I found 'em when I delivered their Meals on Wheels. Henrietta lying there and Hester’s spindly arms and legs flailin’ from under her, like a turtle on its back. A turtle with orthopedic shoes and nylons rolled down to just below its knees. And, all the while, there on t.v., Vanna White was flippin’ letters, and the returnin’ champ was buyin’ vowels.

To be honest, though, Henrietta’s legs are the least of her problems. Ya see, her mind’s goin’. Oh, now, don’t get me wrong. Her memory’s fine. It’s her personality that’s changed. She’s always been a hard woman, but, lately, she’s gotten so mean she’d borrow your pot just to cook your goose.

Yesterday, she got kicked out of the nursin’ home’s bible study for swearin’. I guess Vera Lindgren was readin’ the Beatitudes, but before she got done with, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” Henrietta let out a string of curses that turned Vera’s hair blue, though I suspect it was leanin’ in that direction already. Whatever. Vera’s now sayin’ it’s best for the meek to stay in their rooms, which is exactly where she’s been hold up the past twenty-four hours.

And, uff-da, last week was even worse. At bingo, Henrietta got mad at Homer Bernstrom because he won the blackout game—and a salted nut roll to boot—when she was only one number away. So, to get back at him, she started hidin’ his walker. She finally got caught when she tried to steal it while he was in the shower. From what I understand, he saw her shadow, yanked the curtain back, and paralyzed her with his . . . umm . . . nakedness. She just stood there, as if she’d been fossilized, which kind of made sense since she and Homer are around the same age, and he looks a bit like a fossil.

Anyways, the nursin’ home administrator, who’s not from around here but seems nice enough just the same, asked if Henrietta had any history of anti-social behavior. Right away, I said, “Oh, I don’t know. Probably not, unless ya count that time, years ago, when she and her sisters streaked across the ice durin’ the National Curling Championship, bare as the day they were born. I guess they were mad that a rink from California beat them in the semi-finals, which had to be pretty darn embarrassin’. Still, I think the streakin’ had more to do with their spiked hot toddies than any deep-seeded behavioral issues.”

Yah, ya betcha, it’s hard to deal with agin’ family members. I’m never sure if I’m doin’ the right thing. But I keep tellin’ myself I’m not alone. And that helps.

Talk to ya again real soon. Yah, for sure.

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