February 5, 2012 — When I stand by Emma’s bed watching her sleep, I cannot believe how beautiful she is. At 97 she is still an amazingly pretty woman.
My brother phoned from North Carolina just when my gargoyles were looming largest this week. He said he sensed strongly that something was going on and that he needed to call. He said he wants to come up here to Delaware, finally, and see his mother, who he knows has been calling for him. He is afraid, though. He doesn’t know if he can handle it. In September 2010 when I had the 96th birthday party for Emma and the whole family came and she ate nearly the entire giant cupcake with the icing piled high, looking more like a castle turret than a little cake baked in an oven, my aunt, then 97, came, escorted by two friends, from an hour south of here, and got so upset when Emma didn’t acknowledge her that she cried and had to leave. They were very close, sisters-in-law, and enjoyed lots of laughs together dating back to the late 1930s. This upset my brother.
When he phoned this week, he said his wife wouldn’t be able to get off work for another six weeks and he didn’t think he should wait that long to get up here. He’d rather see Emma now than wait till her funeral, he said. But, he was trying to figure out how he could do this. He won’t stay longer than a day or two, I am sure. I offered him plenty of free food and Emma’s bedroom, which she no longer uses, and her luxurious king-size bed.
Of course, accommodations are not the real issue; they are merely the icing. It’s the same as with drug doses and nurses’ visits – I strive to get at the real problem and have been after the head gargoyle to step forward and spout fresh insight into this pool of confusion. My aunt was shocked to see my mother in her demented state even though I had forewarned her. I apprise my brother regularly of Emma’s condition, but unless you are here regularly, you would be shocked. He hasn’t seen her in nearly a year and a half.
Constantly dredging my mind for solutions, I thought about my brother’s coming and called the can-do person in the family, with the anchoring character – my daughter. She lives an hour south of my brother. I asked her if she could get a couple days off from work and drive up with him for moral support and stability, like a centerboard on a sailboat: it runs longitudinally along the hull to stabilize the boat and prevents it drifting with the wind. She said she’d see what she could work out, but that it would mean making two trips – the second for the funeral, I suppose. OK.
I sense that once Emma sees her son, she will be ready to go.
While all of this was going on this week, I also had required paperwork to attend to for the fiscal manager of our state Division of Aging Attendant Care Services program – W-2s, federal and state taxes, unemployment taxes, unemployment educational fund taxes and a letter to write to a former employee seeking FICA reimbursement, since our fiscal management organization misinformed me about making required deductions after I asked about them explicitly on three separate occasions.
I am not needy – well, I could use extra help sometimes – I tell you about these personal things because you may be experiencing something similar and perhaps you’ll find my stories supportive. I like to think that when I stand up for myself, I stand up for others, too. It is comforting to know we are not alone and that there is ultimately a way through. It seems that when I have done all I can and am at the end of my rope, at the moment I finally get the courage to let go, help comes.
Dr. Patel, the last time he was here, said I should have my cataracts taken care of. Since he is always right, Friday I went to the eye doctor’s, the same ophthalmologist who took care of my father’s and stepmom’s cataracts. When it was time to read the smallest line on the chart and I couldn’t spot the “
Made in China,” I asked if they could bring me a vitamin bottle to read. I can’t imagine that anyone beyond the age of 18 can read those labels.
It turns out my eyes are pretty good, actually – only a slight change from two and a half years ago when another ophthalmologist told me I had developing cataracts and would need them operated on soon. I was concerned about who would help me during the first days after the surgery and take care of Emma. This doctor said my cataracts are in the early stages and are fine for now. He and acquaintances want to establish a caregiver teaching program, he told me. He asked me what I did career wise, and when I told him I am a writer, he said he is too – he has written children’s books, a spy novel, sold on Amazon, Lethal Hindsight – intriguing and fascinating developments – with a new spy novel about to be published – Robert Abel Jr., MD.
I found another book I’d like to read, not published for Kindle, disappointingly, West with the Night, by flyer Beryl Markham, published in 1935, with an African theme similar to Out of Africa and The Flame Trees of Thika. As a woman who loves literature, is a romantic and loves airplanes, flying and adventure, I think I would like this one. It appears beautifully written; I had a “look inside” on Amazon.
Stories about flying remind me of when I worked for the commuter airline that flew out of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). We flew groups of Japanese tourists to the Grand Canyon. After one flight landed, a Japanese man said of our pilot, “That pirate is a good fryer.” My friend Mariko, from Japan, has told me that our letters r and l are interchangeable in Japanese; for instance, Mariko’s name is pronounced Maliko. Another time I was standing in the air terminal with some passengers waiting for their flight. Our pilot, a Brit, walked up to us. “These people are nervous about flying,” I told him. “I’m a bit nervous myself,” he replied.
Thankfully, our 19-passenger airplane had instruments to guide us through the night. All you can do is keep your nose up and your wings level and try not to fall out of the sky.
– Samantha Mozart
Beautifully written as always. Family relations are so complex.
Dr. Abel is wonderful. All doctors should be like him, honest and caring.
I think of you often, and I keep you and your mother in my prayers.
Thank you, as always, Bettielou. Yes, Dr. Abel is wonderful. Doctors like him are few and far between.
Well… primed by Anthony Minghella’s commentary for Breaking And Entering and his voluminous insight to our so-called civilized ways of life I came to your epilogue, also overflowing with sympathetic perspicacity, to shed another one thousand and one tears as thick as maple syrup.
Thank you, R. Thoughtful and sweet.