Saturday, July 19

I dreamed about my mother last night.



I dreamed about my mother last night.  This happens when I haven’t seen her for a while.   If I were a different person I would call it a visitation.  That’s what it felt like: a visit.  She wasn’t well but she was better, like the her of a few years ago.   She knew who I was.  We walked through roads around the water.  She smiled at me.  We said some words,  not many.  There weren’t many to say.   We were together, smiling in the sunlight, finding comfort in each other’s company.

But this isn’t how it was a few years ago.   This is the part I sometimes put out of my mind.  Her running from me, hitting me, biting me, calling me names.  Screaming at the top of her lungs.  Me sitting around the corner, out of her sight, so she wouldn’t see me and turn to rage.

Thursday at the Farmer’s Market one of the women who takes care of my mother held a picture of her in my face.  She told me she was doing better, gaining weight.  She was guiltmongering.  Like she knew the story.  Like she knew who my mother was.

Wednesday, August 21

Today my mother turns 64.   There is a party with loud nurses and children and neighbors with flowers.   Balloons and slices of ham.  A bottle of port.  

They poke her and tell her to smile.  Ask her if she is awake.  Feed her sliced ham.  I take her inside.  We are quiet.
 
The man who lives in the house I grew up in comes with his guitar.  He sings for her.  He sings songs everyone wants to sing in a way no-one can sing along.   Songs about mountains.  Songs about trains.  Will you still need me.  Will you still feed me.   She leans against me as he plays.  She keeps her eyes closed.  I hold a glass of port in my right hand, her hand in the other.

The man finishes his songs.  The people start to leave with their loud goodbyes and their loud affections.  I hold her and sing her a song as everyone turns away.  She wraps her legs around mine and curls into me when I sing.  It's by the the hardest thing.  Follow me.  I tell her I love her and leave.

The grass along the extension is purply-red.  There are beans in my mother's pot.  Yellow finches in the sunflowers.  This summer will end if we wait it out.

Don't think twice.  It's alright.

Sunday, January 13

Sunday afternoon, back aching from coughing all night.  Shoulders sore, body tired.  If I had television I could watch football all day and nobody would think ill of me.  Instead I wander around the house trying to find something small to do. 

Make soup.  Knit limes.  It may be all  I can muster.

Monday, October 22

Monday morning coming down:  bills paid, laundry in, broth on.  Trying to catch up.  Calls that need to be made: doctor, dentist, electric, gas.  Food in the fridge needs to be cooked.  Vegetables to be dealt with.  Green tomatoes to gather.

Last night I dreamt I was going through my mother's possessions with my sister.  Sorting through boxes to find the things that mattered.  An ironstone cup.  A scrap of fabric from a child's dress.  This morning I woke up exhausted.

Today I have lists of things to do.  None of them seem to matter.  Everything I finish leaves me with a feeling of loss.

Tuesday, April 24

Sometimes it's Monday and you wake up with dread in your throat and you're thankful it's a school lunch your kids will eat and you can't find their folders and it's Monday and it's raining but you make the bus and after you feel like giving up so you call a friend and it's Monday.  She meets you for coffee and you haven't seen her since Friday and not last Friday and you talk and talk and it all feels better so you go home to Monday and make the calls you don't want to make like the vet 'cause your cat has cancer and the tumor is growing into her eye and the pediatrician because your kid has fluid in his left ear  and the insurance company because they made the check out wrong and now you are short nine hundred dollars and you call the editor of the local paper because they pissed you off and you leave a message because it is Monday morning.  And you go to the vet and the cat bleeds all over everything and you ask when is the right time and they don't tell you and you pay a hundred bucks and then you come home to drop off the cat and go to Marshall's to buy socks to bring to your Mom and when you get there she is crying she is always crying every Monday. And you feed her fatty pot roast and mashed potatoes until she won't open her mouth and you walk with her around and around and Fred the Eugene O'Neill scholar who taught your friends sits in the hall and he calls Olive a bothersome bitch and she is so you laugh and you sing to your mother your sing songs she sang to you and you sing Little Boxes.  Little boxes on the hillside and they're all made out of ticky-tacky and Fred sings along and he claps his hands and he bangs his tray for the first time and they're all made just the same.  You leave right at two to get the kids to bring him to the doctor and you talk to the school nurse about how stupid a stupid book was and the kids come down the hall in their raincoats and into the car and to the doctor's where they don't see fluid and your son fails a hearing test in his left ear but he gets a sticker and you go home and pick all the girly clothes from your daughter's dresser to be passed along because she isn't girly anymore and you start to make dinner and you burn it and your daughter spills her milk and the whole thing is a mess of messes until the kids go up to bed and you take a quick bath shave your legs don't wash your hair clean the sink and go upstairs.  You hang up the clothes on the foot of the bed pick a dress for tonight and shoes heels and a sweater make the kids' lunches and leave.  Monday night now bar filling friends and musicians and kids young enough you don't care what they think and beer tonight knitting out and a book to return and someone says they wish they had  a washboard and you have one in the car so you get it and he plays it with your keys the old washboard from a friend's garage and you buy drinks and stand up because it is Monday and you are tired and the kids get up to play The Weight and Fisherman's Blues and you decide not to sit down more beer and dancing with the girls and at the end they play songs for you dirty rock and roll and your friend plays the washboard and sings Bowie and you dance til you notice your feet hurt and you remember working ten hours tomorrow on the same feet and you slow. It is Tuesday now, Tuesday.  And Monday was alright.

Monday, February 27

She had another seizure.  Four in the morning.  She fell this time, hard,on her face.  By the time I find out she is at the nursing home again.  When they tell me she is asleep.

When I get there she is up.  Standing.  She won't open her eyes.  She grabs my arm, my breast, pulls at my jeans.   I say I'm here.  It's okay.  She grabs at the bandage above her eye.  Pulls at the stitches.  Her hand is bloody and her head is bloody and I pull her to me.  I hold her to my chest and tell her it's alright.  She turns and walks into the wall.  She can't open her eyes.  She is crying.

She starts to sit where she is.  I hold her, ease her to the floor.  Ease her back up again.  She hums and cries and cries and hums.  She can't see where she is and I tell her I love her.  I love her.  She is pinching my middle and grabbing me she puts her arm in my shirt and through my bra strap and she pulls into me.  I whisper to her.  Hold her.  Ease her down into her blue chair and cover her with a blanket.  Put her head back.  Walk her to sleep.

I watch her sleep.  The blood drying into her eyebrow.  The bruise on her forehead.  The faint stain on the pillow from the blood in her wet hair.  When she wakes she wants to walk right away.  I take one arm.  L. takes the other.  She is woozy and we hold her up.  She still can't open her eyes.  She still cries.  I tell her the lights are out.  I tell her we're okay.  They give her something for pain.  I try to give her vanilla ice cream.  They give her something to make her rest and she fights it she fights it she walks and pushes and cries and fights but she can't see and she can't talk and she is scared.  We walk around the hall.  I get her in her chair and I push her in circles around the unit.

When I leave she is asleep and I smell like my mother's blood.

Monday, February 6

Today she said my name.

She hasn't said my name in a long time.  I said my name and then she said my name.  It could have been any name.  It was my name.