Can you take your purse to heaven?

“Where’s my purse?”

To avoid answering that question eight or ten times when Mom and I leave the house, I make sure we always take her purse with us. The fear of losing her purse got embedded in her mind so indelibly (by her mother?) that it survives vascular dementia. She passed the same fear on to me long ago. It’s a girl thing, purse radar.

Purses contain crucial items for a happy life: wallet, ID, money, cell phone, credit cards, rewards cards, pen, calendar, day planner, to-do list, make-up, Kleenex, keys, bottle of water, coffee mug, food journal. My purse is a big bag with stylish handles. It weighs a ton.
A few months ago, I managed to come home without it. Not to panic, but finding my purse trumped all other plans for the day. I had to figure out the last place I’d had it. Drove back there (with no driver’s license on my person). Through the locked glass door, could see it sitting on the floor near the coat closet. No cell phone on my person, so had to drive home again to make a phone call to get the code to unlock the door. Drove back and the code worked. I got in the building. My purse is gone.

An hour later, a good Samaritan brought my purse to me at home. A near-death experience was blessedly avoided. The weight of the world lifted and my pulse rate eventually returned to normal.

“Where’s my purse?”

Mom’s purse used to be large and bulging, too full to zip closed. It got smaller through the years, as her life got simpler. No need for car keys after she sold the car. No more driver’s license. Rarely uses cash, or needs a credit card. Since she’s never out alone anymore, I traded all her contact info for a note that says, “I love you.” Now her slim, navy blue purse with a shoulder strap contains: a wallet with a terrible old photo of me that she refuses to relinquish, Kleenex, sunglasses, regular glasses in a case, a tube of Tinted Rose lipstick. For emergencies, I added a small tube of denture adhesive.

“Where’s my purse?”

Of all the things I can worry about in my Mom’s care, I confess to adding a new one. I hope Mom will get to take her purse with her to heaven, or they’ll never hear the end of it.

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