Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Here Now Then

I was fumbling with my tie when I missed the call. My phone buzzed next, a message from my sister: "call me."

I did. Her words came out quickly, not in a jumble, which surprised me. Susan sounded so calm.

"Mom fell," she told me. "This morning, she fell down in the kitchen about six o'clock."

I looked at the microwave. It was 10:30. Holy shit.

"Laura found her," she added. "She and Mom were going to bring the girls and come up for a couple of days."


"Around nine."

My mother on the floor of her kitchen, unable to move for three hours. Dear God, it was a wonder she was still alive.

And then Susan told me what we all suspected: mom had been taking falls for a while now, for a couple of years. Her hip, we thought, was bad. She had trouble getting up stairs and walking or standing on hard surfaces for substantial lengths of time. It was hard on her knees and her ankles, too. She had arthritis and I figured it was the pain more than anything that drove her to retire. I think she'd have taught Algebra for another couple of years if her body would have allowed her.

Instead, she took retirement a couple of years ago. She seemed to like it. Mom visited my sisters every couple of weeks, spoiled her grandkids and in the last few months had added my home to the tour circuit. I loved that. I wanted my kids to know her better.

It helped that I had a home that didn't make me want to burn it to the ground just looking at it. It helped that my house doesn't have a lot of steps, just a couple to get onto the porch.

The driveway is misery, though...

Susan said she and my aunt were headed to Pearisburg and that she would keep me informed. There was little question that I would not be along shortly. It was serious, but not life-threatening, apparently. Both of my sisters and my aunt were going to be there.

I said I'd be up in a couple of days and that was what was expected. I'm the least useful of us and seemingly the most obligated. I'd be in the way.

I went to church, arrived, as usual, late, sat in my sinner's pew toward the back and waited for my girlfriend to finish her set with the choir.

"What's wrong?" She asked right off and I told her.

"Why are you here?"

 I had no idea.

"I needed to go somewhere. I needed to feel like everything was ok."

"You're not ok," she said. "Let's get out of here."

And as the preacher marched through the opening words of his sermon, she pulled me out of the room. She stared straight ahead and I found myself looking up toward the pulpit. The pastor's eyes, slightly puzzled, tracked our movement.

We went into town, ordered food and I tried to explain that it was OK. It was all OK. None of this was entirely unexpected. Mom had never really taken care of herself. She tended toward being healthy by default, didn't get sick very often, but she took shit care of herself. She ate garbage, didn't exercise and had diabetes --plus, she wasn't young.

I was still kind of rattled, but talking about it helped and then the phone rang.

This was Laura, who told me that I shouldn't worry. She was at the hospital and Mom was resting.

"But she's had a stroke," my sister told me.

1 comment:

MamaT said...

wow--someone recommended your blog, and i started with the most recent and have just read this one about your mom having a stroke...now i can't remember what you've said about it since then (i read most of what i've read during last night--sleep today has obviously erased large portions of memory). i hope she has done well.