Mom’s Purse by Paul E. Kotz

Another Mom and Paul Story
By Dr. Paul E. Kotz
If you have a parent you adore, or once had in your life, sometimes you miss the time you had, the banter, the conversations and at times – the golden moments.
My mom had her routine eye shots, and we had an early appointment. She had her breakfast, assisted by my brother.
She was sitting in her lazy girl chair, napping.
“Hey mom, it’s Pauly.”
“Hi, Tom.”
“It’s your other son. Your big baby.”
“Hi Big Baby, Pauly!” She recognized me.
“We have to get you ready.” I am all business.
“Where are we going?” She asks.
“You have an appointment for your eyes.”
“I don’t want to go. I’m not feeling good.”
“Well, you look great. Not a day over 57, and we missed last month. You need to go.”
“Fifty-seven! That’s generous. You think so?”
I smile. “Yes, come on let’s get up. We have an 8:15 am.”
The same tape loop ensues, we tighten her cane, debate on whether to use her walker cart, and conclude that if I take her arm, she can use the cane today.
I am thinking to myself, I hope that is a good decision. Falling can be precarious.
“I like your car. It’s a smooth ride. I love to drive.” She compliments.
“Yes, mom, you were a good driver.”
“What do you mean, ‘Was?!’”
She was a good driver, and enjoyed the freedom of having her own wheels and driving her four kids around in our youth.
We get on the road, and Rita exclaims, “Where is my PURSE?”
Oh, shit. I forgot this in all the excitement this morning.
“My fault. It’s in the apartment.”
“Is it locked? Oh, no!” She is worried.
“Yes, it is. We will get it later.”
I am hoping we do not need her insurance cards and ID.
So thank God for hands free options. I made a call to the eye clinic.
“I forgot my mom’s purse today with her ID and insurance. Are her records up to date, so I do not have to go back?”
“Yeah, you are fine. Next time, do not forget YOUR purse.”
“Ha.” We both laughed. “I will try not to.”
“See you soon, with Rita.” The operator concluded.
Many of you are used to these kinds of stories of aging parents.
Repetition, patience and a sense of humor is needed.
“Did I leave my purse at your house?” She is stuck on this.
“No, mom. I picked you up at your place. It is safe.”
“Well, I want to get you some gas. I’m taking up all of your time.”
“We just got started, mom. No worries.”
I continued. “Besides, without your purse you can’t buy me any gas.”
She was not deterred. “Next time, come with an empty tank, if you are thinking straight.”
“Ok, then. I will get you a lunch after.”
“Ha, mom, without your purse, you can’t this time. Next time, ok?” She needs her handbag.
I kept going. “It’s on me.”
At the clinic, we shuffle from room to room. Mom comments on a nurse’s glittering socks.
The nurse appreciates it. “Thank you. I have an ankle bracelet on top of the sock.”
“Oh. I need one of those, too. Pauly, you should get one, while we are at it.”
“I’ll consider it.” We all laughed.
At McDonald’s afterward, she is a cheap date. We can’t have lunch.
We finished at 10:45 am, borderline for lunch orders.
She has a potato cake, a few sips of coffee and a piece of a pancake.
“Sooooo good.” She says.
“You know what?” Making a statement and inquiring at the same time.
“I love you.”
And, as she always says, “I love all of my kids.” My sister texted me to ask if her vision is still stable.
“Yes, you do.”
“Where is my purse?” Rita continues.
And the dialogue continues in a beautiful tape loop, until we get her home, where her tote is safe and sound.
And, I realized that a woman needs her purse.
Paul Kotz has a new book out!
The Preface: Misfits – Aren’t We All at Times?
The chapters of encouragement, gentle nudges to be there for others, and affirmations of worthiness are pure Paul Kotz. How blessed are the students he’s mentored through the years. He is honest and vulnerable in this terrific collection of stories, epiphanies, and nudgings.
He shares the links to two of his stories recorded for Our American Stories. You may find them and more here.


    • I hope he’ll do a book of just “Mom and Paul” stories! They are dear. He also volunteers at a VA hospital, wheeling vets to their appointments. Those stories are so compelling as well.

  1. I understand ‘loop conversations’. I’ve been there with a number of friends. They’re so important to acknowledge our concern and love – and to show respect for their humanity. I have a friend in hospital whose mind isn’t what it was. We were engaged in loop conversations. The nurse came to take some blood; she joined in the loop. I was blown away by the way she treated my friend with such warmth and kindness.

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