Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Sometimes my 81-year-old mother outdoes herself.
Last week her carbon monoxide detector started chirping. She thought it would be a temporary thing, but every few seconds it chirped three times in succession, and that didn’t sound like a low-battery warning. It was trying to tell her something.
Should she run out of the apartment? Should she call somebody? Who? Plus, it was Sunday and the apartment complex office was closed anyway. It didn’t seem 911-worthy.
After an hour or so of the damn thing chirping three times every few seconds (and she was still alive, so it had to be a false alarm), she hopped up on her bed to reach the thing and, on tippy toes, was able to yank it off the ceiling. It still chirped.
She couldn’t find a way to get the battery out of there. Her arthritic fingers were no good at prying at the seams, and even though she knew there had to be a battery in there somewhere she couldn’t find the tab that would open it. There was a sticker telling her what the three chirps meant, though.
“Replace the unit.”
She put it under a pillow. Chirp chirp chirp.
She wrapped it up in blankets and stowed it in the closet. Chirp chirp chirp.
The dog was going nuts. Chirp chirp chirp.
She couldn’t concentrate on television. On reading. On her crossword puzzle. Chirp chirp chirp.
This was turning into an Edgar Allen Poe tale!
Chirp chirp chirp. Chirp chirp chirp. Chirp chirp chirp.
There was only one thing to do. She put the goddamn thing on the kitchen counter, got out her hammer, and smashed it to pieces.
Now, you might say there were any number of things she could have done instead, but I’m glad she chose to destroy the mofo. It tells me she’s still got plenty of moxie and can probably live on her own for a long time to come.
Moral of the story? Mother is the necessity of invention.