September 2000

Something Awful

Just back from Texas with the finest Mother quote yet. On my August trip, it was the afternoon of the third day before she knew who that nice young man visiting her was, so I was emotionally prepared for her to not recognize me at all this time. 

I go walking in and spot her down the hall in a medium security wheelchair. About the same time, she spots me and breaks into a big smile, recognizing me instantly. Turns out she’s been a lot clearer the last couple of weeks, so much clearer, in fact, that she’s figured out how to get out of the normal wheelchair with the “keeper” pad across the front.

Unfortunately, she doesn’t remember that she’s no longer smart enough to learn how to walk again, so she immediately falls to the floor as she gets out of the chair. Thus the escalation to the medium security version.

And this time, for the first time since last November, she’s actually capable of volunteering information rather than just responding very briefly to questions.

Alas, this is not really a plus. On the first day, she remarked, gesturing at the chair, “I must have done something awful to be in here like this.”

While that line echoes incessantly, I’m trying to make myself believe that she thinks it’s jail rather than hell, an effort bolstered by the realization that Mother’s flavor of hell, unlike Dante’s, does not permit visitors. The meter is just excellent: “something awful” provides an exquisite trochaic break in the iambic flow, emphasizing the egregiousness of her crime.

If there had been a Shutdown button, I’d have pushed it through the wall. As it was, we just held hands.

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