Jekyll Island Beach 2012

Jekyll Island Beach 2012

Friday, June 11, 2010

THE ROAD HOME, Chapter 4

The Rogue Speaks:

The days pass slowly, and I am operating on auto-pilot—getting Mum up every morning, moving her to and from the wheel chair, preparing meals that sit, barely touched on the plate, until she asks that they be put in the ‘fridge “for tomorrow.,” taking her to and from the bathroom, cleaning her up. Sometimes, when I am standing by to help her up, she takes my arm in both her hands, and rests her head against me. “I love you , Mum.” I tell her. She needs those words, as we all do, and I am only too glad to provide them. She gives them back in return.

We have a number of hospice workers coming through the house on any given day. They bathe her, take her blood pressure, weigh her, ask her questions about how she feels. She has been extremely modest all of her life, and she always balks when the bather comes, screwing up her face, and frowning like a child.

“Mum,” I tell her, “You will feel so much better after a bath!” I know how extremely modest she is, even to the point of adding a triangle of fabric to her bathing suit many years ago, so that her cleavage won’t show. She still balks, and bending down, I take her face in my hands. “Look at me, Mum. You are a dignified woman, and you will always have your dignity, but you need now to give a little with the modesty. This is for your own comfort!” She knows I am right, and she lets Beatrice roll her down the hall to the shower.

The house is over 50 years old, and when it was built, the plumbing fixtures were put in backwards, so instead of turning counterclockwise to get water, one must turn clockwise. Why this was never fixed over the years is a total mystery to me. It has become an issue with the aides who come to bathe Mum, one that no one has bothered to explain to them until now. Rod explains to each one who comes, just how to turn the water on and set the temperature before turning on the shower. It annoys him that other family members, all whom had lived in the house at some time, had not taken the time to explain just how to operate the shower.

I am way out of my comfort zone. I am two thousand miles away from the safety of my Catalina Mountains, and cannot see the horizon, and the gloom around me brings me down, making me depressed and constantly on edge. I seem to be always angry and sad at the same time. I hate these feelings! And I hate to think that this might be who I really am underneath. There ARE places that bring out the worst in a person.

At home, I am always in the middle of the action, and happy to be there. Even when Mum was with us, and we were getting her healthy after a winter of being cooped up in the dark, dusty house filled with mold spores and cat odors. I was happy to have her to take care of each day. I watched the color come back into her face from days of sitting in the Tucson sun, reading her Bible and talking with us. I took her to have her hair cut and permed, and to have her nails done. She was delighted by the results and the attention she was getting.

I would like to do those things again, but here, something is holding me back—her frail appearance, perhaps the risk of embarrassing other family members by doing what they should have. No, not that. I really don’t care what they think of me. I know I am pushy and opinionated.

Maybe all this stuff would not enrage me so much, had I not had my own personal family demons hanging around in the background, hissing and snapping at me all day long and into the night. They show up every year when I roll into town, and stay until I get on the other side of the Chattahoochee River.. I know that they can’t cross water, so by then I am safe again.


Joann Mannix said...

Wow. Just wow.

You are writing brave and poignant stuff here, Judie. Keep it going. It is beautiful in its essence and in the love that shines through for Mum.

Judie said...

I am trying to figure out just how brave I plan to be with this. It make take some doing. In the meantime I take breaks to read my very funny friend's very funny book. It is just the breath of fresh air I need!

Unknown said...

Ah poor Mum. Somehow I never imagined the Chattahoochee saving me from anything.

It hurts to go back "home"...your beginnings. Particularly when they weren't what they should have been. I am here now. I am angry and sad all the time.

We're moving.

Judie said...

Ghosts can't cross water. I thought everyone knew that!

I don't want to be angry and sad all the time, so I don't want to go away again like that. I will have to go there one more time.

Are you really moving? Are you moving to Tucson? Oh, please say that you are! We could hang out and make giant meatballs together, and take three bean salad to the Gospel Rescue Mission. Then we could kidnap the people we don't like and take them out into the desert and leave them. Doesn't that sound like just the best fun ever??

The Guy's Perspective said...

Don't be so hard on yourself. There isn't a person on the planet who wouldn't want to run far away from the situation you're describing. The fact that you toughed it out, feeling how you did, is testimony to your character.

I loved your last few lines of this chapter. So eloquent!

Sarah said...

You are kind and sweet and beautiful. The last stretch of mum's journey won't be easy, so take care of yourself as well.

Judie said...

Sae, I know that I have to start explaining the ghosts, and I will. It is not going to be easy, but I think I can do it. At least, I hope I can.

Thanks, Sarah. This is a lot harder than dealing with my mother's impending death. You'll learn why soon.

Angelia Sims said...

The pain of the past colors and hurts. Your story of love for mum show your strength and will. Especially in light of what you are enduring yourself. Your story is very moving. You are a soldier.

Judie said...

Angelia, I have two stories here. Mum's story is moving forward to the end, my own personal story is moving backward to the beginning. I don't know just how much of a soldier I am--we'll see.

nothingprofound said...

Judie-I suspect what is unfolding here is a confrontation with your own past and demons. Obviously a very intense and daunting experience for you. But I can see you're determined to go ahead and follow it through, and I know you'll weather it. Reminds me of a DH Lawrence quote I've always loved: "Why be ridden by anything, even our nightmares. We are stronger than our nightmares."

Judie said...

Great quote,Marty. I guess I thought that because Mum's story just fell out of my head and onto the paper, the rest would be easy. It is anything but. I know I'll find the words, but it is going to take some time.

Thanks, Marty, for being such a good friend.