Friday, March 17, 2006

March 16, 2006

My mail, e-mail, and phone calls go from the ridiculous to the sublime. Apologies for the cliché, but I can’t resist its perfect applicability:
In my mailbox today yet another catalogue of boob jobs in bikinis and an invitation to explore the grandeur of Europe on Queens I or II.  I am no more likely to buy a minute leopard-skin thong bikini and its transparent cover-up, (oxymoron, that, isn't it?) than I am to embark on a cruise on which I can expect to experience a personal sense of ease and well-being due in no small part to a phenomenal staff whose sole motive is to ensure my complete comfort at all times. This same staff will also present me with award-winning delicacies presented with a flourish, grace, and intimate knowledge that is the ultimate in civility.

I hope that marketing geniuses afoot today waste recycled paper on us. An aging hippie like me would not relax among the privileged diners in tuxedos (silver-haired) and designer dresses, (always blond) even were she to win a state lottery. I did win an English football lottery apparently, but I didn't play fairly, looked up their address with Mapquest. I replied to them asking why their offices were in a discount clothing store. They told me they were in an annex to that building, but the jig was up, (it's cliché day) and our correspondence ended.

Does anyone buy from the telemarketers? I don’t know anyone who does. I know pitifully few people here in Florida, so I'll just ask you. Do you even know anyone who knows anyone who buys from them? Of course not! They are to a man and woman loathed. People have been trying to squelch them since the day they began calling us at home and yes, I lived long enough to remember a time before. Don’t they know everything about us these days? Isn’t that the going theory? Do they just plague us willy-nilly? Is it to stir discontent? What do all those courses colleges offer in marketing teach?  Certainly the students don’t pick up any useful information about selling to me.

Why does a middle-aged woman who is not fat, but not bikini material either get catalogues trying to sell her plunging flimsies and snob-appeal cruises when she has a by-pass scar between her breasts and collects cruising-prohibitive disability checks? Things weren’t any more luxurious for me when I worked—I had the bad economic sense to choose modern dance, then special education and never did get much past paying what I think of as Everyman bills. That’s not right is it? The homeless and the families in refugee camps don’t pay mortgages, rent, telephone, dry-cleaning bills do they? So I suppose I’m wrong in thinking of them as Everyman bills. Damn. Duh.

However, I have spent these moments of whining distracted from my mother's sick room. I've vented about silly complaints with the world and moved off from my seriousness, sadness, helplessness. Mom is sleeping and seems to be comfortable so I've been tripping over some shoelaces, some foibles of modern life and gotten time off from thinking about death. Our watchdog minds, our tenacious grips, our stubborn souls come through for us just in time, just enough for the necessary lift, until we level. At least, that's our hope, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

My mother was white tonight. The palor of her skin was the color of her hair, her head laying on a mountain of white pillows. When she collapsed into bed she couldn't move, and I wasn't strong enough to make her more comfortable. My brother had to help. She whispered to me that I looked sad. I suppose I did. Failure to thrive is a horrible way to die. Slow weakening until every word, ever gesture takes such effort. I don't want her to decline any further and be conscious of her helplessness. I would rather see her go in her sleep tonight than spend another day losing senses, muscle tone, appetite. It's hard for her to imagine life outside her bedroom now, and I suppose it is making perfect sense that I share her confinement. As much as I appreciate her, love her, am baffled by her, I know I need time out of the house. They all say that, you know. Care-givers need respite. What if the day I pay someone to sit in the blue leather recliner at the foot of her bed, she decides to leave. She may want to go when I'm not there— spare her only daughter the moment of her death. But I want to be there. So I procrastinate about getting help. One week blends into the next week of waiting. The days go quickly though. They are quick with stangeness. I'm tired, and I fantasize about the places I'll visit when she's gone...but for tonight, I'll be here. At 3 or 4 tomorrow morning, when her sleeping pills wear off—I'll be here. I believe the soul lives. And in this life and whatever's next, we need and will need each other.

Monday, March 13, 2006

So-Tony's on the floor bleeding. Uncle June is hiding in his closet, having thrown the gun under the bed, Christopher's AA sponsor is a grade A forger, Carmella has a new Porshe, the Feds had a new guy, but he killed himself-and the usual suspects hover about. I don't think going 21 months without a new episode has hurt anything. Except Tony's weight has gone up to 280. I doubt he'll die from this wound, but I bet all hell will break loose with the Captains and various Made guys. A good hour of distraction. My mother's leaving us, and today was dicey. I don't know if she can leave us much more completely than she has-but I guess there's more, because she's still breathing. Barely. I'm doing what I can, but I don't think that's much. I wonder if I should keep her sedated? Maybe she isn't supposed to be? Who knows these things at this point? Not me.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

You know what they say about how hard it is to care for a dying parent? Care-giver groups, counseling, and hospice all make a point about the family member needing to get away, get out, not spend all their time in the sick room. I suppose they are right. But I'm ignoring them. I don't want to be at the movies when my mother needs me. I don't want to be shopping, or in my case window-shopping, and leaving her to the care of a stranger who will help her get on and off the commode. She is so quiet now I miss the way she needed me every two minutes a week ago and I couldn't get anything done. What did I want to do that was so important to me I'd get irritated? I can't remember now. Last night she tried to put her robe on while I was out of her room, and she fell. She looked so sad. No broken bones, but how terribly sad to find yourself unable to put your own housecoat on without help. I'm her only daughter, so I'm the one she can ask for help with "private" things. She and my Dad have been married for 63 years, almost 64, but they never shared the bathroom I guess. He couldn't help anyway. He can hardly walk. My brother and I got her settled on the bed she so rarely leaves. When we were out of her earshot (doesn't have to be far for that) I asked him, "How do you know it (helplessness, weakness)is going to get that bad until it gets that bad? Until you are there?