She’s not in that bed. Memories of Mom. So much depends on her.

8:44 AM 1/23/2017

I walked past my parents’ bedroom just now on the way back upstairs. I saw that the blankets were just a little bit rumpled. When Mom was in there, while she was sick, she was so skinny that I could barely see that there was anything under the blankets. She has been very skinny for a long time, but she was much skinnier than usual.

It’s this kind of thing that might be the reason why they say, if you gain a little bit of weight as you get older, you actually have a *better* chance of survival. The death rate for people who are underweight is higher than that for people who are just a tiny bit overweight. I remember this was a reassurance that it’s normal to gain at least a little weight as you get older, not tons and tons, but some is okay. Mom would have had more to burn if she had been 20 or 30 pounds fatter. That wouldn’t have helped with dehydration, I guess.

So the slightly rumpled blankets looked almost like Skinny Mom was under there. I remember noticing that when I first saw her, how it was hard to tell there was anything under the blankets at all.

In the old days, she wouldn’t have been in bed taking a nap at this hour, I don’t think, in between 8 and 9. I don’t know where she would be. She always went to the barn and did things with horses. If she had been in the bed, she might have been lying on her side and I definitely would have seen a much larger lump under the blankets. It looked comfortable, on this gray, rainy day, to see Mom lying in bed taking a nap. Mom was comfortable. But it was unusual – she normally went outside and did things even in the worst weather, always being outdoors, going somewhere, doing things that needed to be done, visiting neighbors, working out in the yard. Rainy gray weather didn’t put her in bed very much. Maybe more as she got older. I know they did take naps in the morning sometimes because I would
occasionally wake them up if I called on the phone at the wrong time.

‘I’m gonna go lie down,’ Mom said at one point. ‘You are lying down,’ John said. ‘I’m gonna go lie down in my own room.’ But we were in her own room. She started to try to get up out of the bed. I suddenly realized that she was trying to say she wanted to be alone in the room, because John and I were sitting there near her when she wanted to sleep. She just wasn’t able to express this idea clearly. She was on so many drugs that her words wouldn’t come out right, and she knew it and it frustrated her. She told that to us during one of her more lucid moments.

OOOOOOH, that hospice pamphlet! I appreciated them, they were nice, but that pamphlet, and the misconceptions that they are spreading!!!! It’s this misconception that it’s ‘normal’ for all of these things to happen to sick and dying people, BUT THEY ARE NOT NORMAL, THEY ARE DRUG-INDUCED. There are all these drug-induced side effects that they listed as ‘normal behavior for people who are dying.’

So they talked about how it’s ‘normal for dying people’ to be unable to communicate clearly and to say strange things and to have hallucinations. How much of that is drug-induced? Mom wasn’t having trouble communicating and wasn’t hallucinating during the times when her drugs wore off! It wasn’t merely ‘because she was dying.’ Millions of people are going to be reading these goddamn pamphlets and getting this wrong idea that dying people do all these weird and abnormal behaviors and they lose their personality and go completely insane merely because they are dying!

I have had so many conversations with friends and acquaintances about how they knew this or that relative or friend who was dying, and they were saying strange things or hallucinating, but not a single one of these people ever realized that most of that was drug-induced behavior! They ALL believe that those are merely the side effects of ‘dying,’ or of ‘cancer.’

I was thinking of Mom last night, my memories of her. I look back and I know, I never knew about her inner life, and I never saw her develop her full potential. I really believe in socionics and I know that she and Dad didn’t have the best kind of romantic love that it’s possible to have. I knew that even before I knew about socionics. It was like they were friends.

My mom was a relatively deep person. I know she was able to understand when I talked about particular things.

They used to go scuba diving and used to go on vacations, when we lived in Greensburg PA. So Mom has traveled a bit. She had some adventures. She loved life.

Mom once said that sometimes other women seemed to like Dad, and she said they were usually very ‘bubbly,’ outgoing women.

People tell me that everyone in the neighborhood knew her, that she was basically the welcoming committee for anyone new moving into this neighborhood. This neighborhood has changed – assholes live here now. There are reasons for this. The trend nowadays is for people to live in a house for a year, or two or three, then move to some random city across the country a thousand miles away, then do the same thing a year or two later. You never stay long enough to know anybody. The new people who live here don’t care about the neighborhood and nobody participates in taking care of it like they did when I was a kid.

I specifically remember riding in the back of a pickup truck on top of a pile of ‘fly ash,’ a bunch of toxic chemical waste from nearby factories. Amazingly, THAT didn’t give us cancer. We would throw the fly ash out the back of the truck onto the road when it snowed. We would have ‘fly ash parties’ where lots of the neighbors did this. It was one of the most fun things I remember. The neighborhood really felt together. Not anymore! Unthinkable to do such a thing.

I need to research where fly ash comes from. I’m pretty sure I remember it was basically a waste product from a factory.

So we would all be in the back of a pickup truck going up or down a hill on a snowy road, tossing ashes onto the road with shovels.

My mom was always involved in that exact kind of thing. She took care of the roads. She took care of the drainage ditches. She was the first person you called if ever anything went wrong, and this was true for the entire neighborhood, the whole territory – if anything anywhere went wrong, the first person you call is Deanna. She was on the Homeowners’ Association. She did their paperwork. She paid checks to people. She dealt with putting liens on houses. (I don’t know what that means, I just remember her talking about regretfully having to put a lien on someone’s house.) It meant they didn’t pay their fees or something.

If your horse was sick, you called Deanna. If you had a snake in your garage, you called Deanna. Mom would rescue the snake without killing it. If a tree fell across the road, if the road flooded out during a storm, if there was a car accident and somebody was stuck in a ditch in the snowstorm…

It’s like this whole world will fall apart without her. Now, she was less active in recent years, so they were learning to get on without her, but even so, my memory of her is still like that, the way she was decades ago, the person responsible for taking care of everything everywhere, all the problems in the entire neighborhood.

She rode the horses down trails in the woods and she would cut a path if there were trees or vines across the path. I remember a story. We went riding on some of the horses with a couple neighbors. My horse panicked and started galloping when I wasn’t expecting her to. I just hung on and stood up in the stirrups like I had been taught, and kept my balance. Then the horse finally calmed down. I was really scared though. When I told Mom that I had been really scared, she was surprised – ‘You looked like you had it all under control!’ she said. ‘It looked like you knew exactly what you were doing. You did great!’

I remember Mom getting hepatitis when we went to the beach. We would always go to Wildwood Beach in New Jersey, but that boardwalk was later destroyed by a hurricane. I don’t know how much of it has been rebuilt since then. But that was where we always used to go in the 1980s on our vacations.

She thought she probably caught the hepatitis because she had been drinking some well water that somebody brought to a picnic or something. Maybe it was ice cubes made from well water. I just remember seeing her throw up the sugar cube. I was phobic about vomiting when I was a kid – I still am, but not quite as badly phobic. We had arrived at our hotel, that place with the yellow blankets with those little fuzzy yellow lines with spaces in between, which were like little train tracks that we drove our matchbox cars along. Mom had been feeilng sick and didn’t want to eat anything, but she tried to eat a sugar cube. She was so sick that she threw up the sugar cube into the sink a few minutes later. This was very disturbing to me. I don’t remember what we did. Did we abandon our vacation? Did Mom go to the hospital in Wildwood? Did we stay there afterwards? Whatever happened? I have absolutely no idea, the last thing I remember is her throwing up the sugar cube into the sink.

I think one of my earliest memories from infancy was when I was sitting in the shower while Mom took a shower. I was on the floor of the shower playing with a little bathtub toy that had little colorful beads inside it. I usually took baths, so taking a shower was an amazing new thing for me. I thought you always had to close the drain so that the water would stay in the tub, and I think I closed the drain while I was sitting down there, and Mom told me not to. I didn’t know we usually left the drain open while showering. I think I remember putting a washcloth over the drain.

Mom used to sew, and knit. She also did some paintings a long time ago, oil paintings. I remember I loved the 1970s colors, the earth tones everywhere, green and yellow and orange and brown.

I remember they used to go play bridge at someone else’s house when we lived in Greensburg. I don’t know how to play bridge. That even sounds fun. I could learn to play bridge.

How in the hell did she water all these plants? There are a hundred thousand plants in this house. I love them, actually, but I don’t necessarily love the pain in the ass of taking care of them. I remember seeing her use a spoonful of this brown bad smelling liquid which she said came from fish. It was fertilizer. Did she even use that anymore in recent years? That was a long time ago. Do we still have that stuff somewhere? Is it on her to-do list, that infinite list which isn’t written down anywhere but in her head? She did actually write a lot of things on the calendar. Her to-do list was just SO MUCH STUFF, and she ACTUALLY DID IT. I have an infinite to-do list too, but nothing on it ever gets done! Mom actually DID the things on her infinite to-do list.

I walk around seeing her unfinished projects, her tasks, her things that she was doing or things she hadn’t finished doing or things that I just know will need to be done in the future and I’m not prepared to do them. Some of them are life or death: the plants will die if we ignore them for too long. You have to climb a ladder to get to those plants on top of that bookcase. How the hell did she do that? Where do I find a ladder? I’d rather stand on a chair, but our chairs have wheels. I could stand on Dad’s wooden desk chair with wheels and just be really careful not to tilt it or roll it. But I’m *pretty sure* that’s not how Mom was doing it! There is just so much life that depends on her.

There are so many objects in strange locations. John was joking with Mom about how she has a map in her head with the location of every tiny object in the entire house. Who decided to put up this little sliding curtain covering the entrance to a side room in the barn? Who put that little junky reused wooden cabinet there? Who put that little piece of insulation around that thing? Everything, everywhere, came from her.

John had asked her hypothetically where he could find pipe insulation, because he must have run across some of it in the basement. She knew exactly where it would be. ‘Don’t make fun of me,’ she said.

When she was sick, I would hug her frequently, take her hand, give her kisses. Giving kisses on the lips to Mom – it’s been a long time since we kissed on the lips. It had to be done. It was –
heartbreaking. She loved me and I loved her.

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