Jun 13th, 2008

You Are My Sunshine

I have this memory. I am very, very small. My mother is holding me in her arms. We are sitting under the arbor at the back of the house on the St. Lucie River, behind the kitchen. There are yellow flowers blooming on the vine, maybe they are alamandas. She is singing to me. She is singing “You Are My Sunshine.”

Wednesday, I took her to a dermatologist to see if we can heal this mysterious rash she’s had for 8 months or so. The previous dermatologist gave her creams and ointments and they have done nothing. She continues to scratch. The rash is spreading. I have to go with her because I am her healthcare surrogate, and if the doctor needs to biopsy anything, or inject her with anything or do anything at all other than look at her, I will need to sign the permission.

Her aide wheels her in. My mother is dressed in her favorite color: purple. I tell her she looks pretty today. The aide smiles at me. My mother is unaware of where she is, I think. I put my knitting in her hands, so she can feel it. You taught me to knit, I remind her. The other patient in the waiting room smiles at me. My mother is unaware of the knitting. The nurse calls us in.

We have to put a gown on my mother, and her aide calls her name, and tells her that we’ll be changing her. After 45 seconds, my mother says “What?” But, delayed reaction or not, she’s responded to her name. We take off her shirt and camisole. She covers herself, aware of her own nudity. We slip the paper gown on her, and she grabs my finger, and holds it tight. I cry silently. The aide pretends not to notice.

The dermatologist gives us four prescriptions and asks us to return in 10 days.

My mother begins to chatter. Numbers. My father’s name. The aide returns her to the home. I take myself to the knitting store, and then home. I manage not to buy a pack of cigarettes.