I am never, ever going to take my mother to the eye doctor again. Never again in this lifetime or another.
No. It will not happen.
They have a bus at the Assisted Living Place and they can take her. Her social worker who is a GOOD woman can go with her. She has no history with my mother, she doesn't care what my mother says or does. It does not reflect on her.
Oh my mother.
She has been remarkably free of overt racial prejudice her entire life. She was raised in the south but her parents were stone cold Yankees and did not gift her with a tradition of bigotry in her upbringing. However, she WAS raised in the south and she DID observe how everyone acted and I am sure she couldn't help but internalize much of what she was immersed in. It's hard to explain. She was all for integration and she never made a big deal of me having black friends, even the male ones but it was like she always bent over backwards to prove her non-prejudice, even as she gave the maid our old clothes and truly believed she was doing them a huge favor. You know?
Maybe you do. Maybe you don't.
So now Mother is old. She is very old and she has dementia and she can't remember shit and she also has macular degeneration but was fortunate enough to find a very good doctor who, with a new treatment, has been able to stave off blindness for a very long time.
And this doctor is black. He's from South Africa or somewhere. I don't know. Somewhere in Africa. And she is so proud of the fact that she goes to a black doctor without prejudice. And to prove this, she never shuts the fuck up about it.
It started on the way to the doctor's office when she began discussing how everyone who works in this doctor's office is black. I tried to nip that shit in the bud right there in the car.
"Mom! Let's just not bring color into it at all today, okay?"
"Of course!" she said.
We get to the office early, right before everyone has come back from lunch. We sit down in front of the huge wall-mounted flatscreen TV on which a soap opera is playing. There is one other lady in the waiting room. She is black. Mother begins.
"I watched a lot of that stuff that was just on TV."
"Yes. I love the swimming. I especially loved that little black girl who did so well."
Okay. Wait. I think maybe she was confusing the gymnast with a swimmer. Gabby Douglas? I don't know. I didn't watch the Olympics.
"You just don't see too many of them swimming. It's unusual."
Oh god. Oh god. Shut up, Mother. Just shut up.
I look at her wild-eyed and say, "The beautiful thing about the Olympics is that people of all colors from all over the world do all sorts of things."
"Of course," she says.
I want to disappear.
It continued. She stated that she thought it was wonderful how the entire staff was black. Again. She tried to start a conversation about the woman whom she so intensely dislikes at her table at the home who is always displaying her prejudice. She was going to get into it right there in the waiting room with examples of how prejudiced the woman is, thus proving how UN-prejudiced she is. I know it because I have heard all of it before. Over and over again.
I did manage to nip that one in the bud.
So the social worker can take her next time. And I do realize that everything my mother says pretty much annoys me. That's just the way it is. I would apologize for it but unless I become a completely blissed-out, enlightened being this is not going to change. I think that a lot of my annoyance in this particular situation comes from the fact that there was so much difference in my growing-up household in what was SAID and in what was actually going on.
This seems to me to be just an extension of that behavior. I am not saying that in her heart, my mother is a bigot. I am just saying that she is, well, a product of her environment and age and as such, she is not nearly as forward-thinking as she believes she is.
She showed me a bruise on her arm today.
"This is the fingerprint of a black man," she said.
"I fell and the man mopping the floor tried to catch me and he lifted me right up, right over his head!"
"It was my fault. I shouldn't have walked on a slippery, wet floor. Well, it wasn't my fault. It was the fault of the girl who didn't bring me my yogurt to eat with my pills so I had to go get it myself."
And I do realize that this is not really a problem with my mother. It is a problem with me.
I know that.
Ah, hell. Maybe I'll become a blissed-out, enlightened being and none of this will bother me.
And maybe pigs (yes! back to pigs!) will start flyin' out my butt.
Which means that I'm just as set in my ways and attitudes as she is and I know it. At least there's that- I know it and I admit it. Which isn't much to be proud of.
Imperfectly yours...Ms. Moon