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Blogging for Schmucks

Posted in Crazy Wisdom on Sunday, August 1, 2010 at 11:35 pm by flerly.

So this morning at mom’s didn’t go as well as yesterday did. I suspected this would be the case when I was awakened at around 3:30 in the morning by my mother, who wanted to wake me to apologize for possibly waking James by accident. He hates the waterbed there — as do I, which is why we usually sleep upstairs except in summer when it’s stifling — he was miserable anyway with his aching foot, and had sprawled out on the little bed in the room next to mine instead of trying to battle me for the one good spot in the center on the waterbed all night. Mom, for whatever reason awake at 3:30, had been wandering downstairs, noticed a dim light from beneath that room’s door, figured she’d left some light on in there by accident, and opened the door to see what it was. Instead she found James sprawled out asleep by the dim light of his computer. She is surprised, but manages to close the door. She then comes in to wake me and let me know that she might have woken up James, she’s not sure, asks me how his foot is, then tells me to apologize for her in the morning.

The scent of breakfast permeates the air well before 8. The kitchen is on the floor above my room, but it’s like she’s brought coffee and sausage and muffins downstairs and has been walking them outside my doorway with a fan. When I finally manage to get out of the ridiculous waterbed, flipping half the covers off the other side in the process, I go upstairs to find my place at the table ready with a coffee mug, silverware, a survey from her recent doctors visit and an ink pen.

I recognize it as the survey she showed me briefly yesterday, saying it was the 2nd one they’d sent, so she figured they really wanted her to fill it out, even though they didn’t really want her to fill it out, because she didn’t have anything good to say about them and they must know it. This must be some subtle hint that she’d like assistance filling it out — help me, or no breakfast… or something like that. She does allow me coffee before telling me what to write for her on the comments sections. I do so, then go back and fill in all the circles she has put a tiny check mark within. She notices — “Oh, I was supposed to fill in the dots?” she asks me. Yeah, I said, it says it here, and even shows a picture, then again on the back, but it is no big deal. She comments that it must be a nightmare for me to have to deal with someone as stupid as she obviously is.

Here is where it begins to dawn on me the the mood she is in. It is Sunday morning. We, at some point this day, will leave, and she knows it. It’s do or die time, nothing to lose, so she’s going to at last say and do all the things she’s been afraid to, lest we leave earlier than Sunday. I try to brace for it, but I’m on little sleep — and for a moment wonder if I’d dreamt the 3:30 wakeup.

She puts a plate in front of me, and then asks me if I’ve ever just sat outside in the mornings and listened to the birds. She sometimes takes her coffee out there, and it just feels to her like they’re talking to her. Do I know much about what kind of birds make what sounds, she inquires, and as I’m about to mention that James is actually pretty knowledgeable about that sort of thing and she should ask him, she stops me by continuing to speak. There’s one bird, she is saying, who just says “She’s weird. She’s weird.” and she’d like to know which bird that is. The others are nicer, though. Some just say “He misses you, too.” 

She is still talking, but I am running through a kaleidescope of conflicting thoughts: laughing to myself because she thinks the birds call her weird, and sad because I know who she misses. Then of course concerned that she seems fairly serious about the birds talking to her. Then part of me just relaxes and thinks — you got your insane imagination from somebody, and here it is in your mother. Sure she may never have really learned how to express herself well, but she’s got the same crazy worlds spinning inside her head, imaginings of paths not taken, what ifs, and this is clearly her trying to share something meaningful with you. I’ve spent too long in thought, though, and she has stopped her story, sensing something from me. She laughs, and calls herself crazy. The birds are right.

It’s come up several times in this short visit that it’s been nearly 10 years since Dad died, and she’s just again mentioned missing him — so where her thoughts are is apparent to me when she next asks if I remember the song “In the Arms of the Angels.” Sure, I say, but she reminds me anyway that sis-in-law Donna had asked someone to sing that song at Dad’s funeral — the mother of Donna’s son-in-law, Adam, she says. I vaguely remember someone singing, sure, I tell her. She then goes on to ask if I’ve noticed the song being played in the animal abuse ads on TV now, and with only a quick aside about how she knows there are people even where she lives who are just that cruel to their animals — she proceeds to tell me she now has mixed feelings about Donna because of that song on those ads. I guess I’m trying to lighten her mood a little as I point out to her that it doesn’t seem right to be upset with Donna because she chose a song that would 10 years later be in animal cruelty ads. She does laugh at herself there, then goes on to say that Adam’s mother seems to be looking well after 10 years. Oh, you’ve seen her lately, I ask? Sure, mom replies, then asks again whether I’d seen the animal cruelty ads, because they show the singer in them. That’s Sarah McLachlan, I tell her. Sure, she replies, then adds, “Isn’t that Adam’s mother?” No, no it really isn’t.

I would feel better about any of this if she would ever actually laugh at herself when these things are pointed out to her, instead of just smiling awkwardly. I still turn it over in my brain whether she really thought that only Sarah McLachlan could sing that song and thus Adam’s mother must be Sarah McLachlan, or whether it was some sort of weird attempt at humor. If it is her sense of humor, she doesn’t seem to make herself laugh, and these “incidents” just make us awkward for a bit.

She goes on to tell some stories of yard work, and of Joyce’s spy — the neighbor across the street, whom mom actually likes very much, but is certain has no life except to spy on her and report every weird thing she does to my sister. At least, every weird thing she does outside, because, of course, Pete has put hidden cameras throughout her house on the inside. She hasn’t found them, but knows Pete is good with “the technology” and since he installed her security system, he must have put in cameras, too. She is bolstered by the fact that Joyce once said to her “We know more than you think, mother” in some context that has long since been lost in a faraway phone conversation — but can only mean she has spies. The neighbor is a pretty good actor, mom says, because the other day when he went for his mail mom asked him if he’d seen the turtle she tried to help across the road and he said no. She knows he did, though, and that after they spoke he went straight in to call Joyce with an update.

While I finish eating, she excuses herself to get her new cellphone so I can give her one last lesson in it’s use before we leave. We went over it yesterday, but when she brings it, she slides it to me, then starts to take my dishes. I point out that I already know how to use the phone, so why doesn’t she have a go with it while I deal with dishes and just guide her.

She takes a couple pictures, and is happy at having a phone with a camera. Then she reads off names to me to prove she’s found the contact list. I’ve put in entries for My Home Phone, My Cell Phone, and My Email — because she told me people ask her for them and she can never remember so she tries to look them up. She gets to the entry “My Home Phone” and says it as “Your home phone”, then asks, “Is this how I call you at home?” Read it again, I suggest. Whose home phone is that? She decides to call it; her home phone rings. At last she gets it, and again laughs at herself.

“Why don’t you try calling Joyce to see how she is feeling today”, I suggest. I’ve come back to sit by her, so I can watch what she is doing more closely. On the screen are five names at a time in the phone list, with only one highlighted. She is scrolling down, and as soon as Joyce’s name appears, she stops and asks me how she tells it to dial. The entry two above Joyce is actually highlighted, which happens to be James — who is still asleep downstairs, so I stop her from hitting the green phone button she has discovered on her own. I point out which name is highlighted — and she laughs about having accidentally called James before probably by doing that very thing.

She passes me the phone and tells me to call Joyce, at which point I get up to go get dressed. “If you can’t figure out how to use that phone I guess you’ll never find out how she is,” I say. She manages to call, and as she is talking to Joyce, I have finished my coffee and am walking to put the mug in the sink. I hear her tell Joyce how mean I am, and that I’m wearing a jacket in the house on the first day of August, and aren’t I ridiculous — then she says “oh, if Kim hears me say that she’ll get mad.” I’m 4 feet in front of her at the sink, she is facing me, and this is what she has said. The birds are right.

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