TITLE: A Walk I Didn't Choose To Go On 7/31/ 12
By olivia gates
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A WALK I DIDN’T CHOOSE TO GO ON
My mother was not the type of person who would intentionally hurt anyone, especially her own children. She was raised by a single parent, her mother Louella Dearman. She had every advantage available, but you would not have known this. She was a lovely, respected woman in her community. Deeply loved by all three of her children and especially by her husband of fifty some years.
Nevertheless, this morning she devastated me, her oldest daughter, with her words. Words that to her were innocent and harmless. A mere conversation with her daughter. A question asked so simple, yet so preposterous. Her words made me question, my mother’s mind. Surely she knew the answer, or did she?
It all began with a phone call. I was in my bedroom making up my bed. The phone rang, and I answered it.
I heard my mother’s voice on the other end of the line. “Hi Hon have you seen or heard from Eddar today?” Now Eddar is what I called her mother. I sat down on my bed as my head began to spin. A huge lump formed in my throat. I choked past the lump and answered her question as calmly as possible.
“No, mother I haven’t heard from Eddar today.”
“OK see you later,” she nonchalantly said and hung up.
The lump burst into a million tears. My heart hurt as if I was having a heart attack. Over and over in my mind I tried to rationalize her words. My grandmother, her mother , had been deceased for some ten years now. Why oh Why would mother call me and ask something like this? Surely she knew her own mother was dead.
I immediately called my husband at work. When he answered all I could do was cry hysterically. He instantly became irate and asked, “What is the matter?” “Are you hurt?” “Is it one of the children, is it your parents?” Trying to breath between the words, I relayed the conversation. Deep within my heart, I knew he didn’t have the answers for me. He lovely tried to sooth my pain, all to no avail. After some time, I regained my normal breathing. This is when I assured him I was ok, and we ended our conversation.
Going into the bathroom and washing my face, I stared into the mirror. What was wrong with my mother? Mom had always been the sensible one. Give her a problem and within minutes she would come up with an answer. Ask her to fix an appliance and out from her purse, she would pull out a
screw driver kit. She could fix potato salad for a hundred people, no problem. This was the type of woman she was. So what was wrong? I lay down on my bed and pondered her words again. I began to pray about the situation. There must be a bigger picture here that I wasn’t seeing. “Lord, help me to see what is really going on.” Sometimes when we pray for something, be very careful what you ask for. Did I really want to know this? Yes, I did need to know what was going on with mother, no matter the out come.
After I rested for a while and regained control of my senses. I walked down to my parents house, which was just next door. As I walked up the driveway, there they sat on the front porch. This was something they loved to do. Dad would wave at people who passed by and mom would just shake her head. Dad was dressed in his everyday overalls, the ones with the two straps that come over his shoulder and snapped on the sides.
Mom, on the other hand, was dressed for church. She had on her white frilly silk blouse, mint green double knit pants, hose and Sunday shoes. Her purse and Bible were sitting next to her.
I calmly asked mother, “Where are you going?”
“To church” was her reply, I looked at dad, and he just shrugged. It was a Tuesday.
That day was one of the hardest days in my life. It was the beginning of a walk I didn’t choose to go on. Now I realize that my dad didn’t know how to handle the situation either. He most likely was sitting next to mother, when she called me. He had heard her words also. Did he question mom? Or did he just shrug that off also. My mother continually dressed everyday for church in the same clothes. My dad had to have some idea that mother wasn’t just right. I am sure he cared, but just didn’t have the answers.
Tuesday was when I got the phone call from mother. Friday I got a call from the lady who did mother’s hair. Ms. Sally told me that mother had pulled out in front of a log truck, when leaving her beauty shop, that morning.
Up until this time, my parents life was their life. They were a team from the day they got married. We as children, knew nothing about their finances, bills, or personal business. Dad always joked around and told us they had the perfect marriage until we came along.
Now, realizing that my mother’s life and others were in jeopardy. I had to step into their life. Taking action on her behalf as well as my fathers. I made my mother an appointment to see a doctor. The Bible says to honor your parents. As children we presume this means obeying them. I have since learned that honoring your parents means a whole lot more, such as taking
your mother to the doctor, instead of your mother taking you. The doctor asks my mother questions, and she answers them. You are standing behind your mother shaking your head, because she gave him the wrong answer. Never in my life would I have dreamed I would be doing that. It was necessary for her well-being. She really didn’t know how to convey the right answers.
He asked her if she was balancing her check book? “Why yes of course” was her answer. NO! she wasn’t. Dad was taking care of that for her. He would tell her Mom write me a check for Entergy and hand me the check book. How, oh how could I contradict my Mother? I remember that sickening feeling as I stood behind my mother and looked into the doctor’s eyes. My eyes were pleading with his eyes to have compassion on a daughter’s love for her mother: which I can say he did. Somehow he knew the feelings I was going through.
After a certain amount of time and questions, he asked to speak to the family alone. The nurse stayed with mother as we followed the doctor into another room. He told us he wanted to run a series of tests on mother. We all agreed that this was necessary to find out the truth.
We had mother admitted into the hospital. There they poked and probed her to the max. This too was another trial in our lives. None of us had ever
spent much time in a hospital. After about two weeks of intense testing. Dad said,” Enough is enough. No more tests, no more doctors, we are going home,” and we did. Our mother stayed at home until our father passed away at home. We had two hospital beds in their beloved bedroom. When Dad passed away I told my mother he was gone to heaven. She only replied “he is,” and went back to sleep. After Dad passed, we could no longer take care of mother, she was bedridden. Again another hard decision to be made. I remember rolling my mother down the hall of the nursing home. Little did I know how hard it would be to leave her their. The quilt of leaving your mother somewhere besides her home began to eat at me. This of course was just the beginning. My mother lived many years of the living dead. There are some things worse than death.
Years later while visiting my mother in the nursing home. Why do they call it a home? It was nothing like our home. Nothing like the home she had made for us. I remember one day she didn’t even know my name, much less her own. This hurt me more than the phone call of yeas ago. It was during this particular visit that I just wanted to crawl up in her lap. While sitting with her out in the nurses station area I formed this poem in my head. I just wanted my mother back, the way she was.
LOOKING FOR MOTHER
The little girl went searching for her mother again,
She looked in the house where she was raised.
No mother there
She went to the church and looked in the choir loft,
No mother there
She looked out on the front porch in the lawn chair,
No mother there
She even went to the cemetery, where her father rested,
No mother there
She looked in all the old familiar places,
No mother there
So she went to the last place, she had left her mother,
No mother there
Why! Can’t the little girl find her mother?
Why! Can’t she just crawl up into her lap just one more time?
Why! Can’t she just have one more mother-daughter talk?
Why! Oh why?
Why is a word we are told not to ask.
Then why is it in our vocabulary?
Why can’t I find my mother?
Why do women get Alzheimer’s especially our mothers?
May my life’s walk with this disease bring encouragement to any who has shared or who is sharing this same walk.
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