The Chadwick Papers: Have Bed, Won't Travel

My mother-in-law, a widow, and a woman of confusing and often conflicting ideas, recently dug in her heels, though she thoroughly disapproves of any exercise requiring the use of her legs) and went on a cruise by herself.

Despite the fact that she claims to be unable to walk from a parking lot to a restaurant door, she managed to get herself and her multiple suitcases containing three outfits with a change of shoes for for each day and for each outfit, and three for each night, to the airport. Using handicapped travel services she was wheeled around the airport carrying multiple plastic bags filled with post-its and old expired coupons in her lap, and then again wheeled through the cruise ship long lines for registry to get onboard.

Presumably she walked narrow ship's aisle - since she is not technically handicapped.

When she settled into her cabin, she truly settled in.

We called her several times when she was in other ports besides Miami. We had been very worried about her mobility issues. She is 85 and was befuddled at 45,((or maybe 25?) so this decade has not brought much clarity for those around her as to explanations of why she does this thing or that thing.

She has always loved cruises, though she doesn't love the quick stops at other ports if she can't stay in the duty free shops for five hours. Beaches and museums hold no interest for her.  She loves the planned meals, the all you can eat concept that still thrills many of those seniors raised during the Depression (1929). Though she is a doctor's daughter, she claims she grew up so poor that she didn't have a nickel to go to the movies. We know that this is an internal feeling of poverty. Her parents owned a brownstone in New York City from 1920 to 1960-something. They may have had to cut back but there was indeed food and a place to live.

Toward the end of her trip when I asked what she liked most about the trip, she said, "My bed." She had been sleeping in a 47-year-old mattress until eight years ago when she moved from a house to a condo. When she bought the condo she bought the owners' 25-year-old mattress.

On the ship she slept on a "Memory Foam" mattress. She awoke with no aches and pains. She reported that she only got out of bed for dinner. "This is the best nap I have ever taken." When we tried to convince her that she should treat herself to a mattress just like the one in her stateroom, her overly thrifty side went into overdrive. "Pay for a new mattress when the old one is still working?"

"The nightly rate for a cruise is what? " I asked.

She didn't answer.

"This was a very expensive nap," I said.

Yesterday, we learned that my mother-in-law was driving around looking for a tailor to hem her king-sized bed sheets from the Flower Power days. Why? She bought a memory foam mattress that is a queen. "Why should I throw away perfectly good sheets?" she said.

This time I didn't try to convince her that she could go to Marshall's and buy a set of sheets for less than $25. She has to do her "own thing." She will be a taking a much cheaper nap from now on. And she can surely call her linens custom fitted.


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