It is unacceptable for my mother to be in pain.
There is so much I can’t control, but I could do something about that.
The doctor’s office agreed to see her only if I’d bring her in immediately. Otherwise, the woman explained, it would be five more days before they had an opening. I looked down at my damp running shirt and brushed a sweaty strand of hair off my forehead. I accepted the offer.
I wished that I had time for a shower. But mostly I was just thankful to be able to do something to fix the situation. I guess that feeling of gratefulness was contagious because it opened up a floodgate this morning.
I am thankful that my car is so reliable. The dashboard may have some cracks and one mirror is broken but that car just never stops. I never have to worry if I’m going to get somewhere.
A keypad unlocks the door that separates me from my mother. For a long time, this electronic instrument evoked the same emotion you get when you hear the ominous clang of the prison door slamming on an innocent man. Today, I realized that I’ve never once worried that my mother would get up in the middle of the night and wander down a street. Confused and alone. I’m thankful for that.
My mom was sitting at a table with a night gown worn under her shirt. I couldn’t take her anywhere looking like that. I rushed her to the room and then searched every drawer (twice) for a bra. My mother has been modest her whole life…until now. But I couldn’t stand the thought of walking outside a building without an appropriate undergarment. When I stuck my head out her door to ask for help…there it was. A laundry basket full of clean clothes. After some acrobatics on my part, I got her dressed. And then realized that despite the times the food slips from her spoon, her clothes get washed regularly. How lucky I am that she is in a place that takes care of her daily needs.
At the doctor’s office, mom told the receptionist that she was a very pretty lady. She said a lot of stuff — but that’s the part I understood. She invited the physician assistant, who was attempting to examine her, to a party and then clapped her hands together in glee when the woman agreed. Mom’s been known to touch random strangers on the arm and say things like “You’re so nice, I just wanted to thank you.” Their reaction is always the same. They smile. I usually tug her away just as the smile gives way to a look of utter confusion. I’ve had to deal with mom’s anxious days, a few angry days but mostly mom is (and always has been) the most kind-hearted person I know. You can’t imagine how grateful I am that she was the woman that raised me.
Antibiotics and acetaminophen were suggested when a soft squeeze to her foot brought tears to mom’s eyes. I took her to have some cinnamon rolls afterward, a small consolation for the painful examination. She’s always had a sweet tooth but today she wasn’t too interested. Instead, she uttered strings of sentences that made no sense to me. Pointed at planes overhead and a fragment of a leaf that skittered underfoot. Until finally. She gripped my arm, pulled me close and stared straight at my face. “I love you,” she said.
I’m the luckiest woman alive.