“I never saw so much blood!” my almost 87 year old mother is telling me. “I was finally feeling good again after 7 months of being sick from that flu shot. I felt so good, I went out to plant my garden and the next thing I remember is being on the ground. I think my ankle gave way.”
I bend forward from my chair to look at the offending ankle. It’s puffed up but it looks good in comparison to some of the rest of her.
Mom and I are sitting on her deck having a cup of tea. One side of her left arm is purple and green and red and the left side of her face is swollen into a large square shape. The skin is mottled purple and red around her mouth, chin and neck. Mom assures me that there is more damage that isn’t showing.
“I bled all over everything!” she says. “Go and look!”
I get up from my garden chair and obediently trot down the deck’s steps to the part of the garden my mom points to. I notice blood splots all along the concrete path.
Mom has parked her wheelbarrow up against a low bricked area. Yep. There’s blood all over the bricks and blood all inside the wheelbarrow. There’s blood on the petunias still in their trays. Yikes.
“I soaked my clothes with blood,” my mother calls to me as I retrace my steps back to the table and chairs where we are sitting in the sun.
“Eeeh gads,” I say as I plunk down in my chair.
I’m here to feed my mother. My sister Polly has called to say that Mom can’t open her jaw and she can’t chew. She knows, she says, that I am The Entertainment Committee and that’s my main job but she tells me we all need to blend up Mom’s food and somehow get it down her.
I have had a magnificent idea. While we are in charge, let’s get her healthy. I go in Mom’s house to the kitchen counter where I have placed a big bag full of organic chard, lettuce, carrots, beets, herbs and live sow bugs. It’s all fresh from my friend Carol’s garden.
Mom has a juicer and by golly, I am going to juice all this up and feed the healthy drink to her. She will be well in quick time!
Mother is agreeable about the fresh vegetable juice. I wonder why. She knows how my cooking goes.
While foraging now in her refrigerator I find that same stew that I made for her at least a month and one half ago. Remember that stew? The one who’s dumplings looked like flat waffles? It tasted terrible and I told her to toss it out. She had told me then that her dog Becky wouldn’t even eat it and that she was afraid to junk it in her garden because it might kill her plants!
Now, I shout, ”Why is this stinky stuff stuff still in your refrigerator?” and she says, “I didn’t know what to do with it.”
I say, “Just throw it out, Mom. Put it in the trash.”
My mother actually says to me, without any malice that I can note, “I couldn’t toss it, I was afraid it would kill me.”
I grab that offensive stew, race outside and toss it in the field. I suppose now my mother will be afraid to walk out there, but hey, she isn’t walking much at the moment, anyway!
There is a bit of trouble with the juicer, but I’ve got the juice made now and it is ugly; kind of a green-brown glop, but yum yum, so healthy and fresh!
I pour the health drink into two fat and tall plastic wine glasses and take them to the deck.
Mother and I clink glasses and I say, “To your health.”
Mother downs the magic drink in a flash.
I pour her another inch or so of the brown ‘tar’ and then settle in to sip my drink.
We’re chatting along, sniffing the air and enjoying ourselves when Mother grabs her stomach and looks odd.
“What’s the matter?” I am instantly on the alert.
Mother makes a choking, gaging sound.
“I think I need a paper towel,” she says, “In case some of this comes up. It feels like it might come up. Urk. Urk. Urrrrk.”
Oh my God!
I run inside and get a paper towel and a two quart corning ware dish that is sitting on the sink, minding it’s own business.
I run outside.
“….urrrrrrkkkkk….” my mother is saying.
She tries to smile.
“Oh my God, Mother, what have I done? You drank that way too fast. It’s very potent. It probably hit your empty stomach and it’s too strong.”
Mother gazes at me from her distorted face.
“Oh gosh, Mom, I am so sorry. Things are bad enough; I was just trying to help you.”
She clutches her gut.
“It’s there already?” I say weakly. “Are you going to have the runs?”
“Maybe,” my mother says. “Let’s wait and see……urrrk. Urrk.”
“Maybe you need to go sit on the pot?” I say helpfully.
“Not yet,” Mom says. Her eyes roll a bit in her head. “Let’s just wait and see if things calm down.”
I look at my drink which is only half drunk. I slide it away from me, over the table top. Two of us don’t need to die.
Mom looks at the sky.
I’m thinking how the sisters will never ask me to cook for or feed Mom, again. I was only trying to hold up my end by helping out. And, now look what’s happened.
I try and engage Mom in small talk. She isn’t interested.
“I think I will take your suggestion, Venus,” Mother says. “I believe I do need to go sit in the bathroom for awhile.”
She gets up from her chair and I am very helpful. I hand her the Corning Ware dish.
“Just in case it comes out both ends,” say.
Mom disappears into the house. I continue to sit on the deck. I sit for a long time.
Finally, Mother re-appears and strangely, she has changed her clothes. Her multi-colored shiny, long sleeved, worn inside-out top is gone and so are her long, hot pink velour pants and her blue garden shoes with sox. She has on a sleeveless brown striped tee shirt and shorts with flip-flops. She looks very tame considering her regular outfits.
“Well?” I ask, as she settles herself in a chair. “Did anything happen.”
Mom laughs. “Yes. I had terrible runs and at the same time I threw up and threw up. I filled that Corning dish to the top. What a mess. Then, I got up to dump the dish and I mis-judged or bumped something and I threw that stuff all over myself and all over the bathroom! I had to scrub the floor and all the counters and the toilet and it even got on my towels. And, then I had to change my clothes!”
“Oh Mom,” I moan, “I am so sorry. I don’t know why these awful things happen when I do the cooking or even the juicing! You’re feeling so awful and then I had to make you violently ill on top of everything!”
“It’s OK Honey,” my mother says. You are always interesting. It’s a good thing your sister Polly isn’t here, though. This would have been hard on her.”
Yes, it could have been worse than it is. Polly has a phobia about people throwing up and we would have had to deal with her angst, too.
I stay another two hours with my Mother because she still thinks she might…just possibly might.. ..throw up again and have more runs. I make her hot peppermint tea and try to be charming and amusing to make up for my personal defects.
Finally, Mom seems to stabilize and I get up to leave. I take my empty stew dish and cover and put it in a plastic bag from Mom’s plastic bag pile.
“Oh dear,” Mother says, “I wish you hadn’t. I use those bags for cat poop.”
She declines my offer to return the bag.
As I walk to the door I say again how very sorry I am that I made her ill.
Mom trills out, “Oh Honey, it’s always an adventure being with you! You fell from the stars! You scintillate! ”
I scratch my head. What is wrong with the woman. Is it really OK to leave her alone here?
Later that day, after my sister Polly sees my mother and gets the story of my visit, she calls me and says,
“You need to stick to The Entertainment Committee, Venus. Let the rest of us do the Cooking, the Medical, the Financial and all the rest of it for Mom. Just stick to what you do best…. It’s safer.”
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