A Random Image

Jett Superior laid this on you on || December 28, 2001 || 8:34 pm

My dad just e-mailed me a photo of my mother –an innocuous act, really– and it made me really, really sad. This is strange and goofy, because a picture of my mom should make me happy, right? Right.

But it didn’t, and this is why: if you had shown that photo of my mother to me five or six years ago, I wouldn’t recognize the person in the image as my mom. Her nose is a shiny red, her mouth is a nonexistant slash above her chin and the eyes are vacant and a couple notches shy of flat. My mom looks old.

What’s making me well up and spill over as I write this is NOT the fact that my mother looks old. Hell, we’re all destined for that and I would be foolish to embrace a Peter Pan Complex at this late stage in the game. My mom looks older than her fifty-four years should, and she just looks kind of….well, hopeless is the only word that comes to mind.

My ma, man….she has always been a scrappy thing, feisty and full of life. She’s the type of person that never much worried about her own wants or desires and wouldn’t be satisfied until she was taking care of a half-dozen other people. In the course of constantly going above and beyond for others, I know for a fact that she didn’t take great care of herself. I wonder at times if this is why she is having all the problems she’s having now.

My mom has been sick for a few years now. Not garden-variety sick, either….sick-in-so-many-ways-that-we-just-can’t-pinpoint-it sick. I want to say it gradually crept up on us, but it didn’t. Or maybe it did, and she just wasn’t forthcoming with it. One day she starts having these blackouts. That was about six years ago. After a battery of tests and some scary situations of the “Hey, where’d mom go?” variety, doctors took away her license. They also took away her computer priveleges. No license plus no computer equals early retirement and thank God my stock has rolled and split so much in the last three years.

There was no fanfare, no joy to her retirement. There was anger and frustration and depression that I’m sure would beset any woman of 48 years who was accustomed to being independent and self-sustaining and active. Hell, one of her biggest pleasures of the day used to be coming in the front door, lying down her briefcase, kicking off her pumps, taking off her jacket and being greeted by dad (who got off work at 3 before he started pulling extra hours to compensate for her lack thereof) at the door with coffee and kisses and a “How was your day, hon?”

There is none of that now. Now there is 12 minutes to occasionally e-mail me because that is the extent of her computer time at one whack. Now there is keeping manic house and immaculate yard because those are her boundaries and a body has to keep busy. Now there is waiting patiently for dad to have a day off when she has a real and pressing want. Now there is being hesitant to express that want because she already feels guilty for all she requires. GUILTY, for Chrissakes, for having a want and Iamoutrightsobbingnow.

Now there are repeated trips to the doctor to fall victim to an assload of tests that tell an assload of nothing. Sometimes she is adamant: “NOT ONE MORE NEEDLE.” And I would be adamant as well. They’ve been able to tell us nothing on top of nothing and howfrustratingisTHAT?? The only thing we know for sure is that she has “partial complex seizures” but the almighty medical establishment cannot determine a source.

They cannot determine a source, yet they medicate. And overmedicate. And undermedicate. And medicate yet some more. I am convinced that their medications are the bulk of her troubles now, the cause of the brittle bones (we are tall, strong-framed people with absolutely no history of bone density loss in our lineage) and crazy rashes and degenerating organs. Hell, the organs have been eroded to such an extent that last year she should have died from loss of potassium (she had ZERO when they got her to the hospital and to hear that still puts me agog) and her body was forced potassium over what she described as the longest, most painful night of her life. She actually TOLD me that if that were to ever happen again, I should tell them to let her die, because she never wanted to have that procedure again. She meant it.

I recall something now in the throes of this railing out at nobody that still really, REALLY unnerves me. Mathias was 4 months old and we were visiting Memphis and Maxim and dad and Sam and Scout were out in the back yard enjoying the blossoming spring. I had just taken the baby from the bath and mom asked to hold and rock him while I gathered his things and straightened the bathroom. I travelled through the dining room several times during the next ten minutes and never once sensed anything was amiss. All I saw was a grandmomma rocking and patting her baby and same baby cooing and happy.

When I went to retrieve Mathias from her to finish dressing him, however, I noticed how silent Mom was. I then picked up on how methodical her body rhythms were, how metronome-like she rocked to and fro, how crisp (albeit gentle) her regular pats to the baby’s back were. Her eyes were vacant, and I tried calling out her name at least three times. I asked her for the baby at least as many. I was afraid to touch her –to touch my own mother– lest I screw something up in her reverie and thus her brain, lest I startle her into dropping or –worse– clutching the baby too tightly.

Dad came in and I calmly explained the situation to him and I don’t recall how he retrieved my son, nor how I got my son dressed or even how I ended up in the park down the street alone and sobbing. I just remember the fear and the remorse. “It’s real”, I kept saying to myself, “it’s really and truly REAL.”

I guess the thing that upset me the most was that the one thing that caused her so much joy over the years –the simple act of rocking and patting a grandchild– had triggered a seizure. That one happening enlightened me to the fact that we were not only playing a new ballgame, but it was located in an entirely different park.

Lest ye be deceived, I have taken a proactive stance in my mother’s illness in many ways. They are ways that I don’t feel like getting into right now, so I won’ t. So sorry….

I don’t kid myself about what is going on. In the recesses of my gut there is that eyeball-rolling fear whenever the phone rings at an odd time or I speak to my mother and she sounds far less than par. But Holy Christ, when I see through a camera’s non-loving, impartial eye the naked truth, I cringe and just want to roll up into a ball under my desk here and be sick of heart for all of eternity.

That ain’t no melodrama, kids.

Nobody worked it out »

Don´t be shy. Lay it on me.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

(you know you want to)