Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Something's Gotta Give

The portable DVD player from Walmart is a hit, a big hit. My mom has to lie on her side while her wound heals. Having her own personal DVD player to watch movies and not endless trash t.v. is exciting in a world of little excitement. She was like a little kid at Christmas.

I gave her a kiss and said, “I’m gonna grab some dinner. See you in a bit.” I adjusted the angle of her little DVD player and hit the “Play” button, and the Diane Keaton/Jack Nicholson movie, Something’s Gotta Give started up.

Now, I’m sitting in a TGI Friday’s near my mom’s nursing home, with nary a wireless network in range and with a Salmon Caesar Salad on the way. Never thought I would think I had it so good sitting at a red and white striped table, in a booth by the kitchen, waiting for dinner at a place I wouldn’t otherwise frequent. How things change from moment to moment.

You see yesterday and even this morning I was a bit depressed by it all. My mom’s house. Her dogs. Her cats. Her car. Her life! How had it all gotten so bad? How had we not known? All the “shoulds” that keep roaring through my head. Granted, my mom is a stubborn Texan at heart, fiercely independent in her sweet, quiet way; and she turned down our offers to help over and over.

And, now, we’re having talks we needed to have but she couldn’t hear before. Like about her depression that we all missed. Like about how she doesn’t know how to ask for help, not even a little bit. Like how she’s just like the rest of us and needs other people.

This morning, I felt the stress of wishing I could be in three places at once – with my mom, with her animals, and with the chores that needed to be done. Oh yeah, then there’s the whole thing of being in town and wanting to be there, in person, for Teri and for the business. Teri likes spending time together, but there wasn’t a hint of resentment. She gets the “family first” ethos and told me not to worry.

Anyway, a massive case of “something’s gotta give!”

So, I started the day at the nursing home, bringing my mom her Constant Health shake. My dad didn’t live to enjoy the formula inspired by his illness, but my mom really loves it (I mean loves it, but I guess no big wonder as nursing food isn’t that hard to trump!).

Anyway, it seems that all the delays for flavor enhancement paid off, as my mom is not much interested in things that are simply “good for her.”

After a quick morning visit, I was off (the key would not come out of the ignition to my mom’s Saturn, so I was loathe to leave her car too long unattended).

Off I went to visit her lonely pets. Being a cat person, I enjoyed my visit with her rather gigantic orange tabby cat, who trills and nudges you and pats you with his paws outstretched. Good grief what a belly on that one, but he’s adorable and I can’t help but love him. The black and white kitty, Tyler, is more reserved but affectionate too.

The dogs are all large and constantly panting and in need of a good grooming. It feels like a swarm to visit with them, as they compete for pats and scratches, but they are all quite loving too. I always laugh when I see Barney, the so-called “lab mix,” most recently adopted from the Humane Society, literally hours before the Grim Reaper was to claim him for good.

First of all, Barney is a mostly Pit Bull mix and just happens to be all black. I tell my mom that his temperament is all lab, and then we pretend that I believe her when she says she thought he really was a lab.

After giving everyone a last pat, I set out for the Saturn dealership. I told them about the problem with the key getting stuck in the ignition. Once in the shop, it turned out the car hadn’t been in since February 2006, so there were all sorts of things that needed doing in addition to the key cylinder being replaced (by the way, it’s a familiar little problem with Saturns).

Over $1000 and four hours later, I reclaimed the car, which had been perfunctorily vacuumed and sported a new serpentine belt (supposedly a fairly important part), refinished brake rotors, new windshield wipers, rotated tires, a 27-point safety inspection “pass,” and all fluids refreshed.

I stepped into a dripping car, with rain starting to fall. The key not only turned the car on and off but also came out of the ignition without a massive game of wishing and hoping. Sweet!

I drove off and made it through pelting rain back to my mom’s nursing home. After chatting for a while, I set her up with her DVD player and took my first real break of the day for dinner.

My mom was so grateful that I came out to be with her. She appreciated the straight talk about what’s ahead, what it will take to heal and recuperate, and she said:

I need you. Stephen has been so patient, but you’re pushier, you always have been, and I need that right now.”

Sigh. I’ve worked so hard to be more receptive, more accepting, more patient over the years, but I still somehow end up being “the pushy one.” At least no one is complaining about that right now, so I guess I can’t complain either.

After so wanting to be in three (actually four) places at one time earlier today, I am happy, really happy, to be in one place, right here, with the red and white striped tabletop and all.

Back to the nursing home to chat some more and say goodbye, as I must catch an early plane out of West Palm Beach in the morning. I’ll be back soon though. My mom needs me.

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