Oct 1st, 2007

Rainy Days and Mondays

I went to visit my mother yesterday. She’d fallen on Friday, reaching out for something that wasn’t there, that only she could see. Face plant by an 89 year old lady onto a tile floor does not a pretty picture make. Mummy’s got two shiners, and the whole side of her face is black and blue, and yet, there is only the smallest skin tear on her forehead.

The last three weeks, she’s not opened her eyes when I visit. She’ll hold my hand, or maybe, more accurately, let me hold hers. Yesterday I took her a Starbuck’s Caramel Frappuccino, which she seemed to enjoy.

I called my GirlCousin to tell her about Mummy’s fall, and she told me that my nephew had been spotted at the Gator game over the weekend. Nephew lives in North Carolina, so coming down to Gainesville for a game is a bit of a trek. Still, being only 6 hours from his Grandma, one could hope that he’d call to see how she’s doing. But he’s his father’s child as I am mine, and so he did not. In fact, in the two-going-on-three years (a full three in December) that my mother has been here in this Alzheimer’s home, neither my brother nor my nephew has come to see her once. Nor has either of them called me to ask about her. They don’t send her flowers for her birthday or Mother’s day. They act as though she is already dead.

But she isn’t. Somewhere inside that fragile little eggshell is a wisp of the soul that used to be my mother. It’s hard to see. It’s even harder to look for. I’ve often said that my art education can be summed up in one phrase: I was taught the difference between looking and seeing. I guess that applies to my mother, too. I still see her, but it requires a good deal of looking to do so.

I wish I knew where she is inside her head. I like to believe she’s somewhere where she is happy. The other old ladies, they cry out “Help me, momma” or they sit in their chairs and cry and can’t tell you why they are crying. Some of them squirm and twist in their chairs, or suck on their blankets. Not my mother. She doesn’t cry. Sometimes, even, she’ll laugh or smile.

I ask her if she’s seen my father, or her father. I tell her gossip. I pretend that I believe she can hear me and understand me. I hold her hand. I kiss her forehead. I tell her I’ll be back next Sunday. I bring her presents, which I also unwrap for her, and put them in her hands. And then, I go outside, and I smoke a cigarette before I even get in my car. Then I go home and have a drink. Today, though, it’s Monday morning, and it would be wrong to pound down a shot of whiskey before I get to work. By tonight, I will have gotten myself together, and I won’t go home and drink. I’ll go home and cook dinner. Laugh a little with the


. Pretend that my heart isn’t breaking at the same slow-motion pace that my mother is dying.