The pod castle sent me flowers. That was really backwards. I usually treat them, to cookies or donuts or candies. After all, they are looking after my mother and you never want to underpay or under-appreciate your babysitter, do you? But there they were, sitting in the most visible-to-my-eye spot in my hospital room, the trendiest, raffia-wrapped bouquet in the place. They made me smile.
They also reminded me that G'ma was un-visited. My family was at my bedside and I wasn't in the mood to share. Amster dropped off Hershey's kisses for her at the pod castle and let the staff know that I hadn't forgotten my maternal unit, but it just wasn't the same as being there myself. I had been dropping in at random times of the day, both because that's how my life was organized and to keep them on their toes. If they didn't know when I was coming, G'ma would have to be tended 24/7.
And suddenly I was gone. I had a good reason, but still, I was gone.
I wasn't worried that G'ma would miss me. Whenever I'd apologize for missing a few days, she's smile and chastise me for saying anything at all. "Why do you tell me that? It's not like I remember that you haven't been here. Why upset us both?" I do so love my mother.
But this situation was taking on a life of its own, and I wasn't in any position to get there anytime soon. Little Cuter and SIR went straight from my bedside to the airport and back to their lives; they had no time to visit G'ma. TBG was torn between his media duties and his aching ailing wife; his down time was spent pretending to sleep. Big Cuter stopped by to drop off more Hershey's and check on his G'ma, but I was still too frail to travel and visit.
And there was also the issue of the wheelchair. Or the walker. I wasn't going to be striding down the hallway to her room. She wouldn't recognize the sound of my footsteps clomping on the tile. I'd present myself as another disabled body shuffling around the pod castle. And I'd have to explain why.
It was a quandary, for sure, and one for which I had no answer. And then, sitting on the couch with my ankle higher than my knee which was higher than my hip the phone rang. Caler ID said it was G'ma. She had never called me in all the time she's lived in Tucson. Listen in on the conversation:
G'ma: Did I just see you on tv? I caught the tail end of a report. What were you doing? Why were you on tv?
A/B: Yes, it was I. It's kind of a scary story, though I am all right now. I want someone to be there with you when I tell you. Hang up and I'll call you right back.
G'ma: Hang up? Didn't we just start talking? Okay... you'll call me soon?
At this point I realized that I could not return her call and the fact of seeing me on tv would quickly find its way to the compost heap that contains the rest of her short term memory, that sweet smelling, every growing, warm and nurturing pile of detritus which will be used to create something wonderful in the future but which is now just heating up and getting itself together. But I respect her and I've never shied away from the truth with her and I had to admire the fact that this was the first phone call she'd initiated in the 2+ years she's been living here. So, I called the pod castle and asked someone to sit with her while we talked. 30 seconds later, the phone rang again.
G'ma: Suz? Were we just talking? Why am I calling you?
A/B: Yes, you called me. You saw me on tv.
G'ma: That's right, you wore a pretty turquoise blouse. I don't remember why you were on tv, though. Did you tell me and I forgot?
A/B: No, that's why we're talking now. Do you remember the little girl who was with us at Thanksgiving? (I talked through the pause, since of course she didn't remember Christina.... "do you remember" is a trope I can't get past) Well, 2 weeks ago I took her to Safeway to meet our Congresswoman who was having a meet-and-greet. We were waiting in line and some fool decided to settle his grievances with her by spraying gunfire and I got shot in the ass.
G'ma: (Laughs. A lot.) I'm sorry, sweetheart. I don't mean to laugh. But that's a funny place to get shot.
That, denizens, is my mother in a nutshell. It was obvious that I was alive to tell the story, so she spent no time obsessing about the past. She dealt with the situation as it was presented, and she laughed. I couldn't help it; I laughed, too.
A/B: Well, it's funny until you try to sit down, Mom.
G'ma: Does it hurt? Can you get around? How are you?
A/B: I'm home and recuperating. I actually was shot 3 times and my hip was shattered. In the long-time tradition of our family, they were set to give me a hip replacement, but my bones were so healthy they could repair it with glue and baling wire instead of giving me a plastic body part.
Then followed an interesting-to-our-family-alone discussion of Daddoooo's family's great teeth and bones, of my Grandpa chewing on chicken bones with his own teeth in his 80's, and of how healthy I was in general.
G'ma: I'm sorry, honey. I'm sure you've told me, but how did you get hurt?
A/B: (quiet sigh and internal smile) I was at a political event and some idiot began spraying bullets. I was shot 3 times and the little girl I was with was killed. It was awful, but I had great medical care and I'm home and healing now. I can't come to see you because I am not allowed to walk or drive for 10 weeks.
G'ma: Ten weeks is a long time. Won't you miss the gym?
A/B: Yes, I will. But I have exercises at home and lots of company. In fact, Big Cuter came to visit you when he was in town checking up on me last weekend. He brought you chocolate and told me you were fine.
G'ma: Big Cuter came? Did I recognize him? (We laughed.) He brought chocolate? I see cookies and muffins but no Kisses.....
(I told her where they were hiding and she shared the information with the pod castle worker bee who said, loud enough for me to hear, that they had all been wondering where the Kisses were...)
G'ma: Remind me again why you are hurt... you've probably told me a dozen times already but...
A/B: No worries. I was at an event and someone decided to solve his problems with weaponry. I was in the hospital for a while, got great care, and now I'm home with MTF and TBG and lots of neighbors and friends tending to me. I probably won't get to see you for a while, because moving around is hard for me. But Brother is coming next weekend and he'll get us together for sure.
G'ma: Brother is coming? I thought he didn't like to fly.
A/B: You are right. He doesn't. But he said "My sister got shot three times. I think I can get on a plane."
G'ma: I am sure I've asked you this a dozen times already, but would you remind me how you got shot?
A/B: Y'know what, Mommy? No. I'm tired of telling the story.....
G'ma: (interrupting me) And I probably won't remember it anyway. You're okay, right? That's enough for now.
Can you see why I am going to school on being an old old person from my mother? No guilt. No over-wrought screaming. No anger. Nothing but acceptance and love and laughter. She doesn't dwell on what she's lost. She enjoys what she has. She's funny and interested and not furious at what is missing. She exists in the here and now, and makes it a better place for those in her aura. There is much to be learned from her, and I'm soaking it in like a sponge.