One never knows how deeply to dig and how much to present here in Bloglandia. Whom will I offend if I write this and what part of the brain or planet, for that matter, will explode into blood-dust if I say this truth or what I perceive as truth?
And really, what does it matter knowing that IN truth, this is just a little tiny atom of the written words on the planet and I couldn't blow up an ant's ass with my words, even if I tried?
Not to be cryptic or anything.
I didn't answer any of the comments so thoughtfully and beautifully given to me on last night's post. I feel as if for each and every comment there is a backstory of explanation, perhaps even of defense. Which is ridiculous.
Let me just say that the caring for an elderly parent is as individual as anything else we do. And that for one daughter, it may be entirely appropriate to file a mother's nails, to brush her hair. For another daughter, the very thought of such a thing is impossible.
The reason for that may even be known to the daughter. It may be something that she has tried to let go of over the years with compassionate knowledge of circumstance and yet, as I said, impossible.
It may be a joy for one child to listen to an elderly parent's memories of the distant past and for another child, even in the same family, those memories may be the stuff of her current and eternal nightmares, making the memories not a thing to sit and listen to and smile about but a thing to cause her to cringe and throw more barricades up against the boundaries set so firmly in place decades ago out of dire necessity. Listen- there are names from my past, especially one, that of my abuser, which even the ugly syllables of cause me to want to scream.
And my mother- oh, she keeps bringing that name up. She asks me over and over again, repeatedly, if I think he is dead now.
"I do not know," I tell her each and every time she asks. "I have no idea."
Five minutes later she asks me again. "Do you think he's dead yet?"
Yesterday my mother said that she felt so bad about the things she'd said to my brother when she was in the hospital and was certain that we were imprisoning her against her will. She had accused him of horrible things and she felt so bad about it and she told me that she'd apologized to him and he had told me himself that when he visited her last weekend she had indeed apologized. Profusely.
"You said some horrible things to me too," I said.
This is how it goes. There is a part of my mother which does, I am sure, love me. There is another part which fights with every breath the very idea of apologizing for anything that led to anything because if she does, she has to admit truths which torture her. I know they do.
She does talk about the abuse. She talks about how she never knew it was happening. How she was so naive. How she did not even know such things existed. She even said she should have taken a knife and stabbed him in the back while he was sleeping "at the level of his heart."
She does not talk about how, in the family where abuse occurs, the path has been royally prepared for such things to happen. How secrets and lies are the scrim of smoke that allow a child/children to be molested. For years.
Ah yes. This is the sort of conversation my mother and I have now. Stabbing people in the heart while they sleep. That and that and "I want to die." And how horrible the nurses are to her. And how they never bring her anything to eat (although while I am there, the aid pleads with her to eat something and brings her broth and yogurt and jello) and how much she dislikes some of the tablemates where she is "forced" to eat and every misery of every sort of the body and of the soul and how much she hates how everyone there only speaks of their illnesses, their injuries, and she does not see the irony there at all.
And how at night she cries and cries and no one comes to help her.
"Did I fall in the shower?" She has asked me that a hundred times in the past week.
"No, getting out of your bed."
"I don't remember. Was I in the shower?"
I look at her face and she is losing weight and so her nose is becoming more sharp, the lines of her face more chiseled. "This is a horrible place," she says. "No one believes me. And my church has given them SO much money." The oxygen machine chugs and chugs and snores and breathes. The broth set before her sits waiting for nothing, the red jello like melting jewels in the glass bowl. The two styrofoam cups, one with ice and water, one with ice and ginger ale are standing, their straws tipped in the direction of her mouth and I offer them to her over and over again.
"You have to drink," I say. "You do not have to eat if you don't want to. That is your right. But you have to drink." She sips. Her bed is lowered almost to the floor and surrounded by cushioned mats because of her falls. They have discovered that bed rails only cause worse falls because people manage to crawl over them. Someone (she doesn't know who) has left a small vase of flowers. The camellias I brought last week are dying and I throw them away.
"Some of the girls here are so mean. They are so rough. They hurt me. No one would believe it."
"I had such a happy childhood."
"Do you think he's dead yet?"
"Did I fall in the shower?"
"I want to die."
"I love you."
What does that mean? I think. What does that even mean?
I kiss her and tell her I'm leaving. I go to the grocery store. I come home and put things away and I am so tired I feel as if I, too, might die. I lay down and close my eyes and for an hour there is peace.
I get up and the world is still here. Nothing at all has changed.
I make dinner. I don't know how to answer comments but I read them. I appreciate them.
I wish I were the sort of daughter who could do the things daughters are supposed to do. I think to myself, "If I could do all of that, this would be a different blog."
That is a sort of truth. No matter what else, that surely is a sort of truth.