Red Lobster, etc.

Olla and I had a good trip and accomplished all of our goals.

Olla had been telling all her friends at the Fertile Hilton that she was going to the "funeral parlor" today, and they would respond so gravely--"You'll pull through fine," and pat her on the back, not realizing how much Olla enjoys refining the plans for her funeral. The spectacle of these people feeling sorry for her gave Olla the giggles, so she was in high spirits when we left for our visit with the undertaker.

Although we didn't pick out a specific tombstone--which was a relief for me, since I know she would have insisted upon mauve--we did set some money aside for the purpose. As we sat down with the funeral director for our discussion, Olla said, "This getting-ready-to-die business is about killing me off!"

As we went down Highway 9 towards Fargo, Olla decided we should stop at the Spring Prairie Hutterite colony to pick up some chokecherry jelly. I have never stopped there, so I was glad to get a chance to see the place. It was down a minimum maintainance road which had a seven-ton limit posted. Olla was worried about that, and then laughed: her husband, who died thirty-five years ago, would tease her about being concerned about weight limitations on roads, telling her to get out of the car and walk so they would be legal. We met a gravel truck about that time. I think he was heavier.

Florence and Olla were regulars at the Hutterite colony there back in the days when they took their road trips. The gentleman who helped us said in a heavy German accent, "Where is the old lady who doesn't like chicken?" He meant Florence.

Due to a childhood truama which has stuck with her through her 90 years, Florence hates chicken, or anything with feathers. Once they discovered this, the Hutterite gentlemen teased her about giving her chickens for Christmas, and so on. It had been a couple of years since Olla and Florence had been to the colony, so it was impressive that the man still remembered Florence and Olla. I suppose they are unforgettable.

Olla explained that Florence and she had eventually gotten confused about how to get to the Hutterite colony. In the past couple of years when the were in the general area they would start arguing so ferociously about which turn to take that they both agreed not to even try to get to the colony anymore, just to keep the peace.

I ended up buying two smoked chickens and a ham, and Olla got her chokecherry jelly.

The number one goal in Fargo was to get a new walker. We accomplished that at a medical supply store. This is no usual walker--it has wheels and brakes and the whole nine yards. Plus, it is painted metallic blue. Olla worried that it will seem ostentatious at the home. "This will cause a stir," she said, worried that the other inmates would stare at her more than they do already.

Later in the day, she returned to the topic, saying that if anybody has a problem with the glitzy walker, they'll get over it--or they'll die, eventually, and be replaced with people who will also have glitzy walkers because, no doubt, she is at the forefront of a trend which will eventually become universal. So much for that.

Then we went to Best Buy to get a stereo. Olla waltzed into the store with the new walker at a scary pace. We found a good stereo, and then bantered with the 18-year-old clerk who apparently has never dealt with the elderly before. He was clearly uncomfortable, but intrigued. I told him we were on a spending binge to use up Olla's money before the nursing home took it all, and he wondered why you have to do that. "That really sucks!" he said, after I explained.

Onto the West Acres mall for a new watch band. We ended up downstairs at this delightful little watch shop staffed by a charming gentleman who bantered around with Olla for quite a while as he found her a nice band which didn't pinch her skin. He grabbed a fold of skin on her wrist and said, "it's getting a little loose!" Now, there's somebody who's dealt with the elderly before.

Finally, our goal: Red Lobster. Olla has always wanted to go there and have lobster. So we did. She sheepishly asked my permission to order a "small" glass of red wine, which I granted. The lobster was okay, and Olla ate every bite, but in the end she decided shrimp is better, so she ate part of my shrimp, too. And then, a cup of coffee to "sober up."

On the way back to Fertile, we deliberately drove Highway 10 so we could take the shiny new interchange onto Highway 32. "Now I can say I have seen THAT!" Olla said, as if seeing the interchange was the coup de grace in our day of grand accomplishments.

Then back to the Fertile Hilton. Olla had worried during the day that she forgot to tell the nurses she would be gone. "I guess they'll have to just get used to me running in and out," she finally concluded.

No worries. The first nurse who saw Olla said, "How was Red Lobster?" I think she had told more people than she remembered.