I. Just. Can’t.
I am presently sitting in a cheap hotel room in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Today was to be the start of our “new life”. We’ve rented our home in Oklahoma and we headed to Arizona where we have a small vacation home and we will live there. I’m planning to commute back to Oklahoma for frequent visits. My whole family is there (except for two of eight living siblings).
Most importantly, mom and dad are there. They are my main reason for planning on going back. They are my main reason for leaving.
We decided to rent our house to help my parents with mounting home health costs. We were waiting for some pegs to fit into some holes. The Veterans Administration was supposed to start paying my dad his well-earned special pension after several medical emergencies left him with slurred speech, cognitive damage, weakened limbs and constant pain. The aid was promised by Monday so Friday seemed like a good day to leave town. The money hasn’t come but our house is now occupied. I want to stay but I can’t.
Medicaid was supposed to start providing a person to assist my parents with lunch in their home beginning Monday, so Friday seemed like a good day to leave. They showed up only twice and the first day they forgot about lunch. The service isn’t working but our house is occupied. I want to stay but I can’t.
I visited my mom and dad yesterday. I have the flu. I shouldn’t have gone but I knew I wouldn’t see them for awhile. Mom looked so pretty. Her bangs were clipped back and we sat at the dining table talking about bits and bobs. It was hard to leave. When we did get up to go she insisted on a hug even though, you know, the flu. We had a U-Haul to load and a house to clean. The renters were coming the next day. I wanted to stay. But I couldn’t.
We finally got on the road at noon today. At 2pm, my sister called to say mom seemed like she was having a stroke so she was taking her to the ER. I wanted to turn around but I have a husband and a dog and a trailer yet, I have no home. So I couldn’t.
They admitted my mom to the hospital. All day I answered texts and phone calls from my sisters about my mom’s medical history and what my dad’s needs are going to be while she’s out of the house. Because you see, my mom can’t talk. She can’t.
This woman who just talked with me yesterday about cars and medicine and prison and dogs and therapy and the Bible; who is conversant in every topic under the sun who loves to read and share her thoughts with everyone…this beautiful woman cannot talk. She can’t tell the doctor’s she had surgery in October, what medicines she is taking, where she hurts, what her name is…she can’t tell my sister to make sure my dad takes his pill at noon and where her medical directive is located. I could tell them because I’ve helped her put these things in place these last several months. I want to be her voice. I want to be her person. But I can’t.
A few months ago I expressed to my mom my hurt of being one of eleven children and largely ignored. She told me how hard it was being a single parent of eleven kids (my dad was a of town for 7 of my first 8 years). And she sobbed deep bellowing sobs. I regretted instantly being so childish. How could I not have seen her sacrifices? From that moment, I was driven to be more invested in her life her wishes and her fears. While everyone else has properly doted on my father, I’ve been giving mom baths and going through old pictures and memory boxes and sorting her closet–I’ve had an admitted obsession of lightening HER load–not dad’s. During all of this “work”, some days I’ve felt like an only child–the way I always thought only children must feel–Like your parent is your best-friend. We’ve talked more in three months then we had over the combined 53 years of my life prior. And a deep chasm in my soul has mended. I’ve never loved her more deeply than I do today.
I never thought when I started down this road today, figuratively and physically, that I would become disconnected from my mom today. But she can’t talk and I have never felt so isolated and lonely as I do tonight with the flu in a cheap hotel room in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
I love you, mom. I love you so very much. I want to talk to you.
I. Just. Can’t.