Wednesday, June 21, 2006


It's dry. There is no rain. The ground is dry, and harsh, and the water from the hose just pools on top of dust. It's sere, dry, the grass is turning yellow and I have hopeless, endless dreams of refugee camps and starving, lonely children.

My mother is in the hospital. I took her there today. We're (huh. And by we, I mean me, and my brothers, and possibly some amorphous kind of nice doctor bot who hasn't yet materialized) hoping that some time in the hospital before her operation will get her healthy enough to withstand surgery. And/or, if what's going wrong inside her has suddenly gone much wronger, which we all suspect, but do not say, then the hospital will deal with it.

She lost two pounds yesterday, in blood, and sorrow.

Today I had to fight, her, and the surgeon, and the surgeon's unbearably perky peach topped assistant, to explain exactly what was going on, to override her stoic midwestern self and her Victorian decorum and to say, bluntly and out loud, for which she may never forgive me, that she's shitting huge gouts of blood and jesus, sweet christ, this isn't okay. And so they listened to me, and noted the fact that she can hardly stand up, and to the hospital we went. With a stop at her house to gather robes with Neiman Marcus labels and that godawful dog, stashed temporarily at my mom's friend the groomer.

Finally, finally, when her objections had been worn down, and they weren't as loud as they should have been, which scared me, she turned to me and became 7 years old and said, "I am sickie. I am a sickie girl." and I said, "Yes sweetheart, you are." and my heart stopped and the world whirled on by in shades of dust and heat and dryness and weird numerolgoy, because in 9 days it will be the anniversary of my father's death, and in 15 days it will be her 79th birthday, and anyway, I took hold of her elbow and walked her gently to the hot and steaming car and said, yes, darling, sit back, it's all gonna be okay.

Then we went to the hospital, and sat in the emergency room with a couple of wiggers and their attendant police officers. I was worried, because modern social phenomena and the ever increasing spectrum of the American poor are some of the things I do my damndest to shield my mother from, but she didn't notice. She isn't noticing, much.

Finally they came and took her upstairs, and then I went to the gift shop, for in all our packing we hadn't thought to get her a book. The gift shop had hardly any books, which I think is criminal, although it did have a rack of used books, mostly kids' generic mysteries (six 11 year olds meet a pharaoh in the Mystery of the Pyramids!) and, god help us and I kid you not, two volumes of Principles of Accounting and one of Basic Fortran. I got her the latest Ann Tyler and then they took her off for more X rays and CAT scans and I spent some quality time with the nurse detailing her medical history and reiterating her Do Not Resuscitate order and her Living Will and her No Heroic Measures (I kind of love that. Heroic Measures? Does that mean I have a choice of Agamemnon slaying for me? Leonidas on a hill at Thermopylae? On came the 500? I mean, what the fuck heroic measures?) paperwork, and then, you know, I left.

And met my friend and then my brother at the Westville and talked to my other brother and to my daughter and dear god, she had better get better soon, because otherwise I'll be sitting right there next to her with cirrhosis and lung cancer.

Jesus. Or, as I said, praying today, "Hello, God? I don't really believe in you, but, um, if you're there. . . Blessed Virgin Mary? Holy Mother? St. Isidore? Uh, indifferent Shinto Nature Spirits? I need some help, okay? I need a little help, here."


Sass said...

MGL, your post had me in tears and I wish I could say or do something to make this easier, or better, or something. I don't pray, but you and your mother will certainly be in my thoughts. Times like these are so draining and difficult, so I ask that you please try to take care of yourself as much as you do her. When someone is ill, the person who isn't in the hospital bed tends to forget to do things like stop and eat and breathe and such. Take care of yourself darling. All the bunnies love you and are thinking about you right now. (sasshat)

Kathryn said...

Here's a hug, payable in full upon our next meeting. Your writing is incredibly affecting, and I will definitely keep you in my thoughts.

Doohickie said...


I can't offer any help or make this easier for you, except to let you know I'll pray for your mom and you.

Life is a crazy, wonderful thing, but even 79 years is not nearly enough living for one person; I hope your mom pulls through and enjoys life all the more for it.

And a hug; you need a hug: (((MGL)))

God bless you and yours, and please may he show His mercy and grace to you in this difficult time.

Screwy Hoolie said...

It's heroic measures just to be going through it.

Dan said...

Get Basic Fortran, and tell your mom that when she gets out of the hospital, it's important for her to have a career.


essexjan said...

MGL, I am so sorry. There's nothing I can say except that I will think good thoughts and hope they find their way through the ether to your side.

Adam Harvey said...

Don't underestimate the power of your kid to help you through this. Let him know you need his support. You've got mine, too.

Frisbee Girl said...

Oh, Fliss. I feel like such a sister in sorrow with you right now. I don't have any words of wisdom, but do know that you and your family are being held in so many people's hearts with great love and affection.

Anonymous said...

Thinkin' about you and your family. Paz y benediciones.

Anonymous said...

There is a number of other people who are concerned for you and your mother. You are in our prayers. God bless.