It’s been almost fifteen days since I’ve been to the Care Center to see Mom. There are two primary truths about the guilt I experienced while waiting that long between visits:
- The guilt was increasing even though seven of those days were spent in Mexico which precluded any possibility of a visit.
- The guilt was all self-inflicted. There was not one guilt-laden word, nor a single critically raised eyebrow from anyone aimed at me for missing two weeks of visiting.
I could skip the next month, it turns out, if Mom’s condition today is indicative of what is to come and we know it is of course it is. She wouldn’t even come out of the room. She was waiting “right here until they get done.”
Who, Mom, who are you waiting for?
Shut the door.
No, Mom, leave it open.
(fighting my arms, raising her voice a little) Shut the door!
So we shut it and then she lays down on her bed and the door is pushed open by another woman, about the same age as Mom, dressed in a pink sweat suit, who says she is looking for her children.
They’re not here today, I tell her.
Oh, they’re here (she’s looking in the dresser drawers) they’re goddam hiding because it’s so goddam cold outside and their things are laying everywhere and they’re hiding.
Why don’t you sit down here and we’ll wait for them to get here? (I aim her toward the rocking chair in the room and hold her hand for a minute until she calms down.)
Mmmmrrrnnnnn, Mom is groaning now. It’s kind of a snore, kind of a snarl. Mmmmmmmmrrrrnnnn..
it is part of her breathing, backround racket. And there’s more to come.
The goddam kids never pick their stuff and I have to clean it up..(she is smacking the rocking chair handles) goddam cold outside goddam cold outside, did they tell you they were coming?
And- amazingly- at that moment, there is a car in the hallway except it isn’t a car it is a man in a wheelchair making the same kind of car noises a five year old on the kitchen floor makes as he pushes shoes around chair legs..it is a trilling noise, which changes with the gears:
goddamkids are no there andwhenaretheygettinghere goddamit
HELP ME! HELP ME! HELP ME! HELP ME! The woman who is always in need of help is hollering now, in her wheelchair, hollering as she does for hours everyday HELP ME! HELP ME! HELP!
Another player, Mom’s roommate, Ethel, is now standing in the doorway looking in at the human cacophony of sound in her room while avoiding the car in the hallway, and she smells. Badly. I can see the stains in the front of her also-pink sweatsuit, and so, giving her as wide a berth as possible I go to find a nurses’ aide because there are things I can’t, won’t do. Near the nurses station there is a woman lying on something like an overstuffed chaise lounge, who sounds EXACTLY like a three month old infant crying. Only she isn’t crying. The nurses aide, seeing my dumbfoundedness, says the woman is imitating her baby girl of many decades ago. Good Lord.
I let Nurses Aide lead the way back so that I may penetrate the Wall of Sound one last time without getting someone’s smell on me, and I bend over and kiss Mom/ Not Mom on the forehead and tell her I’ll be back in a few hours. I don’t know if she hears me or if anyone hears me because her groans (or whatever they are) have resumed, the car in the hallway is spinning doughnuts, the goddam kids are still missing, and HELP is still being sought.
* * *
Someday soon I will write of the saints who call this their workplace.
Saints. If you’ve been reading me for awhile you know it’s a word I use sparingly.
Saints. When I say it, I mean it..\
* * *
I feel no guilt anymore. I feel kind of a nothing. It is time to be gotten through. There’s nothing I can do except wait. That’s all…