Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Aging Hands

PHOTO CREDIT:  aging hands

Was it last summer or the summer before, the hallucinatory trial of Casey Anthony?  I confess that I watched almost every minute of it, that it was even, at times, an amusement and distraction.  It got easier and easier to forget the dead baby girl, easier to get caught up in the creative drama of prosecutors, defense attorneys, and some pretty wild witnesses.

I have a dear friend, one of several I've developed over the internet during these years of being house-bound, and then wheelchair-bound, and now, mostly, bed-bound.  She and I can gossip like nobody's business, something that I never even knew I missed until I no longer worked, taught, volunteered, and lived in the world with the rest of you.  At some point during that God-forsaken play at justice down Florida way, I remember writing Diana an email, and saying something like... "Well, there is one redeeming thing you can say about my various families:  At least we've never killed anyone."

I'm here to take that back.

No, no one has died.  Well, yes, of course people have died.  Some just manage to still walk around, breathing.  Some have left the physical world, their ashes taken in by the riptides off of Atlantic Beach. I finally understand the pervasive, perverse interest in Zombie Lore.  The feeling of apocalypse, the incantation of the Last Days that has infected even our elected Congressional representatives.

Right now, I am caught up in thinking and dreaming about my biological mother, Jeanette.  She is, and always will be, a beautiful woman.  She has a mind that I love, and a sense of humor that I recognize as an inheritance, and see in my two brothers -- who will have nothing to do with her.  It clearly beat out our father's sense of humor, which was as close to nonexistent as it gets.  But just as when I talk to Grader Boob and My Favorite Pilgrim, she makes me giggle.

Well, whenever she is not incapacitated.  What incapacitates her?  Things any gerontologist could list with her hands tied behind her back.  Dehydration.  Urinary tract infections.  A disorienting environment.
Constant haranguing and manipulation.  But mostly?  Dehydration and UTIs, isolation, and depression.

Tend to those things -- and it's not hard -- and she's cool as can be.  A riot.  Loves to read, loves to remember, tell her tales of derring-do.  Like any of us.

Unfortunately, it is likely that she should probably not have taken on motherhood as a primary outlet for herself, her life, her intellect.  The same is true for me.  And glancing around at the various progeny, success is not the first thing one notices in the development of the young ones.

I'm thinking we should all donate our brains to some psychiatric institute.

Back in January or February, I called the Adult Protective Services unit in the area where she lives, as she was clearly being misused, robbed, and subjected to psychological meanness and manipulation.  That, and then there was this weird and increasing propensity for her to end up on the floor with broken bones.  It was something that a good daughter would have done a year earlier.

I am not a good daughter.

APS fussed at me -- in the southeastern United States, there is no other applicable expression.  They fussed at me.  Why?  Because I informed my half-sister and half-sister-in-law (does that exist?) that I was going to do it, before doing it.  "We prefer to arrive unannounced," I was told by a woman that had to have a very tight bun and a grey flannel pullover, and a stick... well, never mind.

Then, because -- by that time -- despite a crushed pelvis and spinal injuries, she had been unceremoniously plopped into a very bad nursing home ("and rehab,"  it came "highly recommended!"), where her injuries went untreated.

I've been lied to so many times by her daughter, her son, and the aforementioned step-sister-in-law that I don't allow myself the misery of imagining all she went through.

Essentially, they decided she should die now.  I've been told it was screamed at her, and I bet it was whispered in soft serpent hisses, as well.  "It's time... be at peace... stop all this pain." That old song and dance.

I mean, it's fine for me to have a DNR order on my person at all times, and I'm getting it tattooed on my chest on my next festive outing.  But don't bend the mind of an old woman who has finally fought her way out of the sadness of the grief of becoming a widow.  And don't toss her on the floor, or encourage her to hang out on the floor, or commence a grout inspection, whatever the heck brought her to the hard kitchen linoleum and the cold bathroom tiles.

She lives in a small, insular, almost incestuous town.  Everyone knows everyone else's business.  People cloak themselves in the sainthood of their churches, their Rotary Clubs.  They use social media as if they weren't just meters away from one another to begin with.  It's a messed up place.  I don't know it for a fact, but it's geography puts it square in the middle of meth land.

There are some wonderful people there, taken individually.  Adults and children and tweens and old timers that I'd love to hang with, drink in hand, laughter at the ready, if I were able to drink, and if anything left to tell is remotely funny.

So... she left my life, essentially, when I was around 4 or 5, reappeared from time to time, but in total, since the age of 6, I'd estimate my total time spent with my biological mom to be about 7-10 days, total.  I don't much care whose "fault" that is, or even, honestly, can say that it was a bad thing or a good thing or a "meh" thing.  I had a wonderful stepmother who did the best she could with the raw material delivered to her.

But there is a law.
But there is a law.
But there is a law.
Isn't there?

Do you not, if you are in the position to do so, help helpless people?  Even if, to some degree, their helplessness is a learned response.  Even if, to some extent, their helplessness is a ploy.  Because, after years of self-deception, the helplessness has taken on a life of its own.

I used to say, and may have even recently said, that my mother was reaping what she had sown.

Even so, there is a law.

You don't allow your parent to fall, certainly not over 40 times, in the span of months, and then chat about it with the nonchalance you'd bring to the topic of what nail polish to try next.  You don't embezzle her money. You don't speak meanly to her.  You don't tell so many lies that the hole you dig may as well end in China.

And you don't freaking lie to me about it all.

I should have known.  You see, these people don't acknowledge gifts.  Mostly because they probably "divert" them.  Their children are proud to be rude. (Except young John, in whom I have great hope.  Hello, John!  And get off my blog, young man.)  One child is clearly in trouble.  He's putting on weight, suffering fractures, and has developed encopresis -- for which the apparent treatment is to put new flooring in his room.  I've looked up pictures of him online, and recognize the sadness on his beautiful, intelligent face.

Should I now call Child Protective Services?

No, I think not.  Adult Protective Services, after fussing at me, couldn't act because my mother was in a skilled nursing facility, assumed to be "safe." {sound of forced laughter}

My half-siblings have developed some evil tendencies.  Or they are sociopaths.  I've discovered that they also pretty much abandoned the care of their father, who happens to be one of my heroes.  Why I, of all people, loved him, I don't know.  He emanated kindness and goodness, and his welcome of me was genuine.  What the two halflings don't know, and never will, is that their lies and their evils are as readable as a first grade teacher's sample alphabet.  There isn't anyone left they can con.

Oops.  Not true. The old people around them, trying so hard to help make my mother's situation livable, want to believe.  They can be conned by visiting preachers, by God talk, by pure bullshit.  These two remind me of those famed grifters of lore.  They were patient for a long while, wanting her money.  But when that blew up in their faces, they regrouped and now seem ready to play some new game.

She came "home" Monday.  I spoke with her this afternoon, and she has not slept yet.  I remember coming home after months in the hospital, I remember being frightened of fire, for some reason.  In a hospital bed, rails up, unable yet to transfer myself to a wheelchair, I became obsessed with fear of fire.  Poor Fred (remember, that is this blog's shout-out refrain: "Poor Fred!") barely slept, either, for I heard every creak of the timbers, every acorn on the roof, and everything in me shouted "fire." There is a fear of being trapped in bed, alone.

A wonderful initiative has been made, to give her nursing assistance from a certified home health agency on a 24/7 basis.  Already, I smelled cooptation at work, my half-sister ready to hover, the aide not being around when I asked to speak to her.  But it's just Day Two.

You are likely shaking your head at me.  "People are basically good, profderien," you are saying.

Praise God, I know that!

It's been the salvation of MY life, that discovery.  Anne Frank, sadly, gladly, got it right.  But that doesn't change the fact that the two children my mother last spawned have somehow -- and how no longer matters
-- become ruled by avarice and trickery.

I am an awful daughter.  My mother, who does not know me, just as I don't know her, repeatedly asks why I don't come visit.  I don't feel like detailing that my major victory of the day was walking to the bathroom, having Poor Fred bandage my legs ("Poor Fred!"), and doing a bit of reading.  Woo hoo.  She doesn't remember or refuses to accept what I've detailed in the past -- an incurable osteomyelitis, adrenal insufficiency, avascular necrosis, and what was that other thing?  Hmmm.  Oh, yeah, intractable full-body CRPS.

So I told I couldn't come because Fred had a terrible ear infection -- true enough -- that will require surgery -- also true.

Poor Fred.

And I want to say it again, while it is still true:

 "Well, there is one redeeming thing you can say about my various families:  At least we've never killed anyone."

© 2013 L. Ryan


  1. Hi. I know this is presumptuous for a first visit, but right after reading this, I found this…


  2. hi, zhoen...

    i don't click on links without knowing what they are, too many malicious people out there leaving malware, or just selling stuff.

    so be even more presumptuous and tell me what i would find were i to clink on that link!

  3. I responded to your comment on my blog, saying yes, please ask your brother what the ghost skeleton plant was.
    Turned out to be a dried tomatillo husk!
    I would never have guessed.

    I'm sorry about your mother. Reminds me of how hard it was to watch my mother fall apart...

  4. i was sort of partial to the cantaloupe suggestion...

    the brother-unit failed to respond, anyway.

    the mother-unit and the little unitlings have about worn me out, or at least, worn out that one certain velvety soft, caring place in the mind.


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