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As our regular readers will know, Gill is a big fan of the weekly ‘coupons’ (her term…they’re really the shopping flyers) that appear magically at our door. Actually, that’s not entirely true. They don’t ‘magically’ appear. It took me months of complaining to see that they were delivered each week. For some unknown reason, the carriers always neglected to bring mine. It was as if I was on a blacklist of some sort. When I knew Gill was coming, I HAD to get the problem solved. She would have been livid had the coupons not been at her disposal.

We had a busy visit — so much so that she didn’t have the time to devote to the perusal of the flyers that she had anticipated. And so, two days before her flight back to the UK, she pounced on them with a renewed vigor and fascination. She got her pen out, prepared to make lists of things she thought I needed. Tops on the list, I feel certain, was a penguin (or some other cute animal) in some form or another. (Ha! Little did she know that I was ready for her. I brought back from Australia a delightful box of chocolate koala bears.) She was somewhat mollified…although she still wants a penguin.

A person studying for a post-doctoral exam couldn’t have been more dedicated about research. She combed every flyer, from grocery stores to hardware, department, and drug stores. She made lists, ranked them in order of potential savings, availability and distance we’d have to travel. She was like a kid at Christmas with the Sears Wish Book!

Normally, I’d take this project with a grain of salt. But since this was the last chance this trip for her to do her weird thing, I didn’t interfere and simply let her run with it.

Of course, her delight and excitement couldn’t be contained. I flitted around the kitchen, to the laundry room to do a wash, upstairs to take folded laundry from the dryer.

“Hey, Ma!” she shouted at me from the kitchen. “Look at this! President’s Choice has a new kind of cookie. It’s very Canadian…maple syrup and shit in it. We must buy these! They’re going on my list.”

From hallway up the stairs, I yelled, “Can’t hear you!”

She would then grab her stack of papers and run to the bottom of the stairs to repeat her newfound discovery. “Ma! See? Here’s a picture. When can we go to the store to get them?”

Under my breath, I muttered:”Never. I don’t WANT stupid store-made cookies.” But I smiled benignly at her and said,”Oh, I have a lot of chores to do first. Maybe later.” Translation: ‘over my dead body’.

She followed me up the stairs, waving the flyers at me as she went. It was then that I realized she was copying my habit of hitting her with news bits (she refers to these as ‘Items of Great Importance’)and questions before coffee, before she could function or even feel her feet..

Then she announced her best find. “Ma, I’ve been perusing this insert about Senior’s Camps. Sounds right up your alley. You could learn to do Tai Chi, paint, yoga…all sorts of things to keep you busy.”

“First off, do I look like someone who needs busy work? Second, this is just a revenge plot on your part, isn’t it? You’ve never really forgiven me for sending you to Brownie camp when you were 7. You hated it and now you want me to feel your pain. Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I hate camps. I especially hate doing things in a group with other seniors. It screams of desperation or Custer’s Last Stand… something.”

“Let me get this straight. You hated camps but you made me, your poor innocent, unsuspecting daughter, your firstborn, go to one? Why? I may sue for child abuse!”

“I sent you because I thought it would be good for you. You weren’t much of a ‘joiner’ and I wanted you to make more friends.”

“Ha! And we all know how well that worked out…”

“Yes, we do. But at least now, as an adult, you have learned to make your ‘loner’ personality work for you.In fact, you’ve turned it into a positive. Congratulations.”

“Oh, Ma. That’s sweet! Don’t worry, I won’t send you to camp.”

“Damn straight you won’t. I appreciate it…”