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|Going Home Again - Page 3|
The next morning, I notice that my mother has carefully set the breakfast table with mismatched, clean dishes. The letter I sent her several weeks ago announcing my visit has been carefully placed in the center of the table. It's clear she shopped for my arrival. Covering the table are a two-pound tray of brownies, a family-size package of Oreo cookies, and a large tray of cinnamon rolls. The refrigerator is crammed with mysterious packages, dishes, and uncovered saucepans. In the front, are pints of coleslaw, potato salad, Jello, and four six packs of Diet Coke. I eat an apple.
I announce that I'll take her anywhere she wants to go, if she feels up to it. Using skills hard won through innumerable childhood skirmishes, I eventually steer her toward the Miniatures Museum across from the Los Angeles Museum of Art. She seems to really enjoy the miniatures. I'm relieved. She's happy, she's on her feet, and we're in the world, for once, together. I hold her hand and we keep a sharp lookout for little ceramic cats in various tableau. Cats become the safest topic of conversation for the rest of my stay.
By the time we've taken a drive through Beverly Hills, she's in another full-blown asthma attack. She takes more pills and uses her little inhalers. When I suggest again that she use the new oxygen compressor that was delivered the night before, she refuses.
We later watch Wheel of Fortune on the television and I venture gentle inquiries during the commercials. "What's in the boxes? Where did all these plastic utensils and knickknacks come from?" My mother brightens up and explains to me that she's about to win $3.5 million dollars from the United States Purchasing Exchange. She buys $40 of merchandise from their catalogue each month, and she's now one of the next in line to be a big winner. They've even called to ask her what menu she wants for her celebration banquet.