Sunday, 30 August 2015
A Tale of Two...Paracetamol
My son is now home from hospital after major surgery and armed with painkillers. My mother, a long-retired nurse, was most interested to know what painkillers Rob was taking. After reading the prescription labels, she banged two jumbo-sized boxes of Paracetamol on the table and asked, ‘Would you like these instead?’
‘Thanks, Grandma, but no.’
‘Oh.’ My mother looked put out. ‘Why not?’
‘Because they’re Paracetamol. I’m on something a bit stronger.’
‘But it says 500 mg here. Look,’ she pointed. ‘Right there. A couple of those will soon sort you out.’
Rob smiled. ‘Thanks for the offer, but I’ll stick to what my surgeon prescribed.’
‘But I bought these especially for you.’
‘You keep them.’
My mother frowned at the boxes. ‘But I don’t want them. I spent five pounds on these, my boy. You’ve wasted good money.’
‘I haven’t wasted money,’ my son pointed out, ‘because I didn’t buy them.’
I instantly made flapping motions with my hands indicating my son should hush. Hadn’t he learnt by now that you never make comments like this to an eighty-two-year-old woman who is extremely set in her ways and clearly having “a bad day”?
‘Well that’s gratitude for you,’ my mother pursed her lips.
My son copped my flapping hands and rolled his eyes at me.
‘It’s very thoughtful of you, Mum,’ I said soothingly.
Two blue headlamps swivelled in my direction.
‘You have them, Debbie.’
‘Oh. Er, thanks, but I don’t really take tablets.’
‘I thought you suffered period pains!’ my mother accused.
‘Um, yes, I did. Once. I’m fifty-three, Mother.’
‘Are you?’ My mother frowned at me. ‘Well how old am I then?’
‘I can’t be,’ my mother paused to gaze at the ceiling. ‘I’m…I’m…let me see…well I’m definitely not eight-two.’
‘If you say so,’ my son muttered.
‘Yes,’ my mother nodded emphatically. ‘Now that we’ve sorted that out, who is going to have these boxes of Paracetamol? When you’ve been a war baby, you don’t waste money, do you understand?’
‘Tell you what, Grandma,’ said Robbie, his expression one of yearning for his grandmother to stop talking about Paracetamol, ‘I’ll take one box. I’ll pop it in my medicine cabinet for emergencies.’
‘Marvellous,’ my mother beamed at her grandson. ‘As for you,’ my mother waggled a finger at me, ‘I’m no longer offering the other box to you because I know you’ll only chuck them in the bin. You chuck everything in the bin. Everything. Clothes. Shoes. Handbags.’
‘Recycling bins, Mum,’ I murmured. ‘Helping third world countries.’
‘Did your mother tell you,’ she swung around to her grandson, ‘how she chucked out a load of furniture when she downsized house? Absolutely criminal.’
‘I sold it on eBay, Mum. I didn’t chuck anything out.’
‘Well you might as well have done,’ my mother retorted. ‘You practically gave things away. Absolutely criminal,’ she repeated. ‘No wonder you’re always pleading poverty and never have any money.’
I wasn’t aware I pleaded poverty, but as I was starting to get a headache the Paracetamol were gaining in appeal. I reached out to take the remaining box.
‘Oh no you don’t.’ My mother snatched the offending box up and clutched it possessively to her chest. ‘I’m going to give them to my hairdresser. She always seems to have a headache when I come into the salon. She’ll appreciate them.’
‘What, as a tip?’ Robbie quipped.
I gave my son warning look.
‘Yes. As a tip. What’s wrong with that?’
‘Nothing,’ said Robbie pleasantly.
‘Right,’ my mother nodded. ‘I’m glad we got that sorted out. Now then, I was going to say something. What was it? Oh yes. Would anybody like some Paracetamol?’
Which reminds me. There were three elderly sisters aged ninety-two, ninety-four and ninety-six. One night, the ninety-six-year-old ran a bath. She put one foot in the water and paused. ‘Was I getting in the bath or out?’ she yelled. The ninety-four-year-old hollered back, ‘I don’t know. I’ll come up and see.’ She started up the staircase but then stopped. ‘Wait…was I going up or down?’ she shouted. The ninety-two-year-old was sitting at the kitchen table having a cup of tea and listening to her sisters. She shook her head. ‘I sure hope I never get that forgetful,’ and she knocked on wood for good measure. Then she yelled, ‘I’ll come up and help both of you just as soon as I see who’s at the door…’