You see she gives me money for Christmas and Birthdays and I do the same for her (as well as other daft little homemade gifts to amuse her). It passes between us year in, year out and I think I'm going to start marking the notes to see how long it takes for them to come back to me in a birthday card!
Theres also the problem of what arises if we go to spend it. I'll pop over to see her and we'll stop at her favourite cafe for lunch before having a mooch around her local town. She's not as light on her pins as she used to be but still enjoys a little shopping trip with her daughter and especially enjoys helping me with a project - a new saucepan for pancakes, some shoes for a party dress - something that gives us both a wonderful sense of togetherness. Days later she'll ask after the pancakes and laugh at my disasters then delight in my son's pancake making prowess. I'll regale her with stories of the shoes and the party - and both of us will remember the days when we used to dance together in the kitchen. She taught me to jive and we would be like whirling dervishes - I can still remember the strength of her firm grip as she twirled me round. I'd laugh with joy and delight, willing her to spin me faster and keep her hold on me so I didn't fly into the wall.
We went shopping recently and had fun pootling around Marks and Sparks looking at clothes. She was looking for a cardigan and I was on the lookout for some summer trousers. We were delighted when we helped each other find them and both walked to the checkout with a determined air. I knew what was coming. The money fight.
She wouldn't allow me to pay for her cardi because she had a gift voucher from Christmas (a present from me anyway) and I wanted to get my trousers using some left over Christmas money from her. We had a stand off and all was calm until I went to pay for my trousers. Suddenly this 78yr old thug pushed me out of the way and started throwing money at the cashier.
'Don't take her money, its counterfeit' I warned the cashier, but she just laughed. "I've heard it all" she said as she folded the clothes into a bag. "This happens all the time, and sometimes even comes to blows."
I always feel like a child again when this happens. Part of me wants to take care of my mum and pay for everything and feels foolish taking money from her - another part wants to enjoy her enjoyment of buying me things - and for us both to enjoy the feeling of our lives still being interwoven. As I stood there feeling conflicted I realised if I were with one of my children I'd get so much pleasure being able to buy them stuff and I didn't want to deprive my own mother of that joy. I could also envision the conversations later in the year.
"How was your holiday?"
"Those trousers were a godsend! Thank you"
Sometimes its the simple moments that provide deep, long-lasting connection.
I suggested we split the payment and suddenly the money fight was over ... until I got home and found she had stashed some cash in my handbag!