Friday, 3 January 2014

Downtown a deux

Did a whole trip-downtown-for-walk-and-lunch with Okaasan today.
More than 3 hours of it.
I am patting myself on the back. Well, I would if my Belgian chocolate expanded waistline would let me stretch that far.

All went well.
She enjoyed it. I managed it. No murders took place.
No actual shopping either :-) Which is a miracle.

I felt I should give up some block of my winter holiday time to Okaasan. Amid my skiiing, meeting up with friends, watching old Friends episodes, going to a strangely non-sexual performance of Phantom of the Opera...and chocolates.
So at 11 am I packed her up in the car in clothes suitable for the season and drove downtown.
Parked at the southside of the city area and walked her up to the center along one of the underground shopping streets that criss-cross Sapporo.
Everywhere was busy with winter sales and shoppers loaded with bulging bags. Okaasan told me about every 20 m that buying stuff in the sales was a bad idea because it was the pre-Christmas unsold items. But she really enjoyed the noise and the bustle and the stuff on display.

As we drove into town I'd mentioned road heating and how some parts of the pavement are not snow covered in the city center.
But as we walked the 5 city blocks of this underground mall Okaasan kept telling me that it was better to walk on the brown tiles at the side...not the white tiles in the center of the mall.
Cos this area was roadheating and not slippery!
I pointed out several times to her that this was an underground mall and there was no snow - hence no need for roadheating. But she kept saying it....and sticking to the brown tiles....

She sat down several times to rest. Then got her to the Mitsukoshi department store...and finally up stairs to their cafe for lunch.
The chat here was all about how Dear Son had told her that it was a bad department store and going bankrupt....I now remembered he'd told her a variation of this when she first came to live in Sapporo - because he didn't want her to get a store charge card. She has SO absorbed that story that she told me various times in loud whispers: "the staff here don't know, but people in Tokyo know that it's got financial problems and might close soon!"

After lunch she wandered the sales floors a little, peering at stuff - but very, very luckily not wanting to buy.
Then wanted to go to the other department store...
But I could see she was getting tired.
I managed to change the second store plans into coffee...and then change that into coffee at a convenience store near the station.

As Okaasan got tireder her conversation slipped off the rails into odd sidetracks....buying a magazine, and then on the way out of the shop going back to the magazine rack:"Oh look, they have magazines!" and leaving one coffee drinking stop and saying brightly:"shall we go and have coffee" two steps outside the door...

Sometime after 2 pm I got her up to street level and into a taxi and back to the car park, and home.

Success. ;-)

A big reason I used to dread doing this kind of outing with her was a big lack of confidence in my Japanese ability. Left alone with her, could I chat away for a few hours? Well - I can - cos of course I can say the same things! Aimless chat is ok. Weather, things we see etc. She tells the same stories and comments. And so it flows.
I also used to be scared that she'd have an accident while in my care. I still worry about that. Specially in winter. Her balance isn't good...and she perches on sitting places unsteadily. She almost fell headfirst out of the taxi. Heart stopping moment that: I dropped my handbag and car keys in the road and hoisted her upright.

She walked well today. I don't know - but suspect - what happened about toilet needs. I kept pointing out toilets, and she kept saying she didn't need one...

But she seemed to enjoy the trip and trust me. Took my hand on the snowy places. Gave me advice about winter sales, bad department stores and food that was packaged to look good...

One more day and Dear Son is home.
One more day.

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