The Absence of Both Parents

I made sure my mother did not fall down in the bathroom tonight and so I was in there while she went to the bathroom, then made her wash her hands. She has no muscle, only skin and bones. She’s got a deep cough from the flu or something. She’s vacant at times, practically hopeless. She is in a nursing home, so there is nothing I can do more than what is being done except make sure she makes it to the bathroom, which she may not at some point.

I think I mentioned a large bruise on her head and a large bruise on her wrist from about a week ago. I worry that it is going to happen again and she’s going to be lost. And yet, it hasn’t hit me. The prospects are bleak. I went today and saw she hadn’t eaten any baby food from about a week ago when I bought it. She still didn’t know it was there at the side of her bed, but the nurse came in and assured me that she ate about 50% of her food earlier. We’ve made no plans in how to bury her. I am not supposed to bury my mother. She’s my mother for God sake. I showed her pictures of what I did for my sister, plates and napkins, a partial tableclothImage and in a second she asked about my sister and I told her again about what I had done. She still has no lower denture because my sister says taking her to get a new one with her sick as she is and weak is dangerous. Somehow she manages to chew her food. I’ve already lost my dad, nobody deserves to have both parents die. I can understand now how adopted children must feel. Often their parents are living and yet dead to them. My friend Suzanne wrote a note to me and said she wished she could give me a hug. I was doing pretty well until she said this, as if I needed help. Today an ex-girlfriend said, “Are you really that sad?” as she had read half of my book. And a few weeks ago, a friend and I were on a hill watching the fireworks and we talked about psychotherapists and I told her the last one moved to Seattle. It was only to help me find out what I was supposed to do for a living, which I still don’t know. I told her that it really didn’t matter. I think she was hinting that I should see one.

“I don’t take them seriously,” I must have said. I am reading The History of Madness by Foucault and Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (French: L’anti-Oedipe) is a 1972 book by the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. I told her I was a self-healer.

Suzanne planted a seed; I started crying even before my mother is gone. I didn’t cry for my father, except of course in the beginning. I filled the tub, sliding around in it before my relatives left. After that I simply smiled when someone asked what my father did. 25 years later, I wept uncontrollable for a half-hour outside Mahler’s 5th concert conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. It was embarrassing. I was with a girlfriend and a best friend, but it seemed so weird. Out-of-nowhere the emotions came. If you have ever heard this Symphony, it goes every which way, and finally dumps you out in the street of your emotions.

I am going to play it for the neighborhood. It is 12AM. The Chicago Symphony. It is loud at the beginning, then I have to turn up the volume.

One comment

  1. This is a moving story. It really touches my heart. It is a deep reflection on life and death. The father´s loss at an earlier stage in life is added to the ageing mother who is losing self-governance. Moreover, the mourning period after the father’s death seems not to have been carried out properly by the story’s narrator. Instead, the great breakdown comes 25 years later when he says: “I wept uncontrollable for a half-hour outside Mahler’s 5th concert”. This should make us, readers, think about the concept of death we have in our present Western societies. We tend to ignore that death exists, we avoid talking about it and, what is worse, we hide it from our children. If we do so, how can we expect them to become strong functional adults in life? No wonder children have such low tolerance to frustration nowadays. In my country, Catalonia, and also in the rest of Spain, cementeries are closed spaces with high walls. This is just the opposite to the kind of cementeries people have in countries like Germany or England. They have parks, open spaces where people are reminded of death’s existence. Of course the main reason for not having this kind of cementeries in my country is a lack of space but I think it also tells us how we deal with death. We put it aside instead of facing it. I see this is a general tendency in our Western societies that does not help us in any way.

    Another aspect of the story I would like to discuss here is the question of psychotherapists. I strongly disagree with the narrator’s perspective on them. Sometimes it is not enough to be a self-healer. I am very happy with my psychotherapist because she is a good professional and somebody I have good chemistry with. These are the only two things needed. Of course a psychotherapist won’t solve your life but it is somebody that accompanies you somehow. To me it is like walking up a mountain and having someone who gives you a bottle of water from time to time.

    Last point: the feelings this story produces me while reading it are: SADNESS, COMPASSION and EMPATHY for the difficulty of the situation, but also, as I already said, DISAGREEMENT with the narrator’s opinion of psychotherapists.

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