Me: I can't do this today, Mom. I'm really sorry.
Her: (Pointedly putting the carefully addressed packages back into her bag with a regretful sigh) Oh, that's OK.
So of course I find myself driving back to Burbank the next day to take her to the post office. Which turns into me waiting in line with her packages while she's resting comfortably in her apartment.
God, she's good.
We're heading to my house a few days later.
Her: It felt very strange to not go to the post office.
Me: I agree. It was very strange for you not to go to the post office.
Her: I've been going to the post office for years.
Me: You can still go to the post office.
Her: That's not my point. My point is, I felt bad. But then, I thought of something, and it made me feel a lot better.
Me: What was that?
Her: I was thinking how well qualified you are to work with seniors. You could run the most amazing old people's home! You know how to cook. You love board games. You're very patient. Plus, you're a good listener, and that's so important since old people can really talk your ear off if you let them.
Me: You don't say.
Her: The only thing you don't really know is the health part, but I'm sure you could figure that out. And there's a lot of money in it, believe me. It's a growth industry. So I realized that thanks to me, there's a whole new career ahead of you later in life. And that made me feel good.
Me: That's a pretty big leap, Mom. Do you think they'd all need me to take their stuff to the post office?
Her: (Ignoring me) Plus, you've had experience with the guinea pigs.
Me: The guinea pigs.
Her: Yes. You've been through it. When they die, I mean. Some people aren't cut out for that part of the job. But I think you'll be fine.
She smiles at me cheerfully, and takes out her shopping list for the grocery store.
To be honest, I like the part when the guinea pigs are born much better.
* Where she managed to reap a savings of something like $63 on her three bags of groceries through a combination of double coupons, weekly specials, and club card deals.
** Where she handed me her ATM card at the drive through window and in a slow, clear voice, recited the PIN code for me three times. I tactfully refrain from punching it in before she's finished, and she tactfully refrains from overtly criticizing my own profligate cash withdrawal habits.
*** Driving my son and his friend clear across town so they could lie around another friend's house and do nothing as a group.