You don’t want to know what happened in the end, but I’ll tell you because that’s who I am.
I brought baby food, gently tugged at my mother’s foot to wake her a second time. I asked her to eat the yogurt, squash, and I actually don’t think she ate anything more. Then I helped her dress, by the way she smelled like cheese. We went to Peet’s but it was crowded, then to Appleby’s where I bought her a cup of coffee, a chocolate shake, and French Onion Soup. I told her I would bring her back to my place to look at family photos so I could get an idea of what some might mean. I gave her the first picture and she said, “That’s her mother,” but I never got the names. That ended pretty quickly. Then she announced that she had to go to the bathroom. I tried to help her and a few feet later she exploded in her diaper. I helped her in the bathroom, first getting off her only pair of pants. Then she pulled her diaper and the sh#t leaked out onto the seat and the floor. As she wiped, she drew her whole arm into the John, picking up, the brown turtle dove of her earlier meal. The smell of my mother’s specimen filled the room like that of any number of memories in public restrooms or frankly, whatever and wherever. Sh#t renders everything indelicate. This moment has ruined every romantic interlude I might have believing women aren’t any different then men. The ruse of modesty is out the window. I helped her up and asked her to take a shower. She would have simply put her pants back on. The look in her eye was like I was committing murder. She looked tired. I had no idea, because she really was tired. Still, I saw no option. As it turned out, she stood in the shower, but complained the whole time about how tired she was. I compromised and said I would bring a chair. I went for the $250 plastic Scan design chair that would be fine in the shower, except that by the time I got back, she was tugging on the shower curtain and fading fast.
I said, “Here, take the chair,” but by then she started to slump and by the time I could reach her, she melted into the tub. She hadn’t trapped an arm or a leg, but she slid down into the back of the tub and she seemed to have gone unconscious.
I shook her, checked her pulse and breathing; it was faint. Her eyes were rolling back into her head, and I kept talking to her: “Mother, mother…” I could not believe that she was going to die on my watch. And how close I was. It was no mystery. I guess, we just get tired and shut down.
Then she threw up, the bile of French Onion soup, the chocolate shake, and probably the coffee. The vomit was the color of caramelized onions and it smelled like faint puke. I called 911 and waited. She threw up again but this time much more. It was all over her chin, chest, and now it was along her side. I asked the person on the phone if I should wash her off before the Paramedics got there, but she said I didn’t have to, “They were used to it.” I felt bad. I rinsed her off a little more, but it was partially hopeless because I couldn’t move her and she was laying in it.
The paramedics came, there were like 6 men and they asked me if it was feces or vomit. I said it was mostly the latter, which made them even more uncomfortable. One wiped his shoe. They wondered how they were going to get her out of the tub. I gave them towels and they had a blanket. They carried her to the white, Scandinavian leather chair with wheels and dropped her in it, then rolled her out and drove her to the hospital.
I pushed the chair covered lightly in vomit behind the recycled bin and told a neighbor to tell the other neighbor not to throw it.
She replied, “You better take it; someone will steal it.”
I said, “It was dirty,” and she could see, I was running around with apparently only one of my mother’s slippers, the same pants and shirt she had been wearing. I also had a clean diaper. As you might know the day felt like it was 100 degrees. I was sweating and embarrassed.
My mother, once a television model, a woman not unlike Elizabeth Taylor in her prime, was now naked under a few towels, wrapped partially in a blanket and being wheeled.
It turned out; she was only dehydrated and fainted when the moderately hot water and steam wafted up in the shower. She did look white. They filled her with two pouches of saline and told me if they transported her, it would cost me, versus the last time, when they insisted.
She was at the hospital within 48 hours for the injury she suffered when they found her at 1AM lying on the floor. She was there again about a month ago because she was bleeding from of her rectum.
She is shutting down. Her Alzheimer’s is taking its time, but I can see it in her tarnished capacity, the shortened distances between the same question. How she is less and less stable. And she always asks me how I am doing? It is a joke; she is fading and she knows it. All her life she’s been on the cusp of not trying, in the forest where the woman cries wolf. And so when the nurse brings her to the car and she’s feigning the capacity to enter, I tell her, “This is not a joke.”
I am tired. I am helping people in quadraphonic stereo and apparently my caring is a curse. We become the byproducts of our environments. I am always attracted to the helpless women. They need me and I come running, which of course means they never stay long. My mother probably won’t make it beyond next year. How could she? The less I can take her out, the greater her lunacy becomes. But, if I take her out, she is a ticking bomb.