By Marilyn Olson, Executive Director, VillagesOKC

During the 3,691 days that my mother lived with us, there were hundreds of really good days, a few bummers, two or three frightening days and a lot of just ordinary days. Sandwiched in between were some that stood out because they made us laugh until we cried. Today, we laugh all the more when the story is retold. It was one of those that made us say, “You can’t make this stuff up; you gotta laugh.”
It was near the year-end holidays. My friend had given me an “Alexa” for Christmas. (You know, that’s the electronic voice-activated gadget everyone was buying in 2009.) After opening, she was eager to tell me all of its amazing features. She wanted me to know all about how it helps her keep a grocery list, tells the weather for the day, and even orders on Amazon. She was so eager to set it up and show me that she asked my Amazon password and placed a “pretend” order, before submitting – or so I thought.
That next week a small Amazon Prime package arrived; it was a slender bottle of lotion. Although I do not use Avon, I decided to put it away because Mother always is looking for hand cream and it would make a good gift for Mother’s Day. And besides, I hate returning things.
Five months after my friend had made the erroneous Avon order, I presented Mother with the gift of hand cream. Since she already had bottles of lotion open, she put it aside waiting until fall to begin to use it in preparation for a doctor’s visit. It had a delightful fragrance. “I can always use another bottle of lotion,” she said.
The monthly appointment with the doctor was uneventful, and afterwards, we went to Braum’s as usual to celebrate having a good checkup. The doctor applauded that she was walking regularly outdoors even though the days were getting cooler. “Great for Vitamin D,” the doctor said.
We were very busy preparing for Thanksgiving when all the family would be there. Mother said, “I’m really concerned about what is happening to my hands, neck and face. I wonder if you’d call Dr. Craven and see if the nurse can work me in for an appointment.”
When I investigated, Mother was worried about her skin’s yellowish tinge on both hands. Looking more closely, the faint yellowish pallor was even more apparent in the daylight. Mother was a worrier and thought she was jaundiced. And even though I didn’t let her know, I had concerns too. (She stayed very aware of her healthcare lab reports and watched her kidney numbers meticulously.) But it didn’t make sense because there were NO other symptoms.
After two more days of “apparent jaundice” but no other symptoms, I began to seriously investigate yet trying not to worry her.
“Mother, what bottle of lotion have you been using?”
“That one,” she said as she pointed to the bottle on the nightstand.
I picked it up to read the fragrance. It was the Avon bottle I had presented on Mother’s Day. For the first time I read the label aloud, and we both burst out laughing.
“Oh, my goodness! Mother, this is tanning lotion, Avon’s Golden Tanning Lotion. You aren’t jaundiced, you just have a golden tan. Guess I’ll cancel that doctor’s appointment and buy a swimsuit fit for a 98-year-old instead.”
We couldn’t wait to tell the family. And we all laughed until the tears came.