mom , Mommy as I still called her to her face into my thirties. I felt I never passed the calling of my mother from mommy to mom. I figure it this way. If you took all the years and days we spent together and subtracted my actual age I'd still be a minor, roughly about eight. I'd still be calling her mommy.
I need a drink.
And I'm back. Someone smart said, "Write drunk, edit sober." Let's give it a try.
My Mom was in jail last I checked. She had been busted in Palm Springs and booked in Banning. At least we knew where she was. I was told by my uncle that she was on the streets of the desert doing what she does. According to the trusty internet she was to be transferred to Los Angeles where she would wait till her release. Not once in all my thirty five years did I visit her in prison or jail. I would write to her when I was young but as an adult I had just about given up on her.
Many times over the years I would distance myself from her as an act of self preservation. She was known to take, take, take. I could no longer give. I had lost too much over the years. I'd been kicked out of a roommate situation due to her harsh words and threats written on lined paper and slipped under a locked door. A door that was locked because my roommate thought my mother would make off with the T.V. Not while I was living there would she ever take the T.V., but who knows about after.
The last time I told her to fuck off was when she didn't die. Had she of died when she said she would we would of been ok, but she didn't. She didn't die in Twentynine Palms that summer. She called me frantic. She was in the hospital, dying. She needed me now more than ever, it was the end. Before I dropped everything I phoned my sister and yes, she confirmed, our mom was very very sick. They made my sister wear a mask and gown to protect our mom from her outside germs. It was super serious, so I packed a bag.
I drove from my residence in Las Vegas to 29 Palms in just over three hours. From one desert to another. Back to where we lived years before in a house with no windows and no doors and coyotes ate the cats and a tortoise moved in. I kept it only a few days when I realized he had a better chance of a meal in the wild.
At the hospital I gowned up and put on a mask. I thought what's the point if she's gonna die anyway. The guilt prevented me from voicing that aloud. I was surprised that she had her own room, the other times I visited her in the hospital she was just partitioned off by a hanging curtain. She has never had insurance and has always been on Medi-Cal supposedly due to the fact that she can't work cause of hepC. I felt more than a bit jealous that she had such posh surroundings. Nurses came and went always quiet and respectful. They pulled in a chair that like a transformer elaborately unfolded into a bed for me. Every nurse beamed at me when I told them I was staying the night with her. That gave me pride, a feeling I was doing the right thing overcame me.
I repeatedly asked the night nurses when I could speak to a doctor about my moms status. I was told tomorrow, tomorrow. I was told, "She's in a lot of pain." " It's so great that you're here." I was told to wait. My skepticism still grew. This daughter of an addict was not easily fooled. She had them all under her spell somehow. They were letting her smoke! She would roll outside on halting steps with her iv stand and smoke and smoke and smoke. She said it's already killed her, there was lung cancer and she had six months to live.
I was floored, six months, then my mother would die. Six months of pain meds and hospitals and hospices. We spent the night talking and crying. I was to wait for a social worker who would light the way for my mothers hospice care. I was to find homes for her cats but keep her favorite, Majic.
I promised. Oh I was in for a doozy.
The morning dawned and she smoked. I started making calls to hospices. Was the patient terminal, yes. How long, six months. I was told they needed to speak to a social worker to plan further. I left the social worker another message. They wheeled her out for a test. A lung biopsy she said. She napped a drug induces sleep after. This was my opportunity to hunt down the doctor. Nurses smiling and patting shuffled through the halls. I was a good daughter.
The doctor finally came, he motioned me out of the room. I said give it to me straight I need facts as I've been on the phone with hospices all morning. Hospices? He looked me straight in the eye and said, " Your mom has an infection called leukopenia due to her smoking with dentures, it causes her to have a low white blood cell count leaving her at risk to infection. She'll be out by tomorrow."
I freaked the fuck out. I wrote a nasty letter with shaking hands, all the while telling them she had them fooled that she was just in here for the drugs, and gave it to the front desk. I stormed out and sat in my oven hot car and cried and cried. My mother was not dying.
I went to her house and took her oily ass scraggly cat Majic. The place was full of cat shit and piss. There were cats everywhere, polydactyl kittens. No food, no water. A fish tank in the bathroom was half evaporated and dead oscars floated in the grime yet things still moved in the murk. I couldn't help them all. I was just keeping my promise to Majic. I was freaking out! Then a lump sat up on the couch and a small half blind black woman asked me for a ride. I declined stating I was getting the fuck out of dodge. I drove to the local pet store and told the guy working there was an animal abuse case at this address. I bailed. I drove the 200 miles home alternately wailing and banging on the steering wheel. My phone never rang once.
I took Majic to the vet before I made it home. I phoned first so they knew to expect me. She was bathed and treated for fleas. I was told she was malnourished and fucking pregnant. $150 later. You could feel lumps in her abdomen. I opted out of the ultrasound and took her home. A spay and kitty D&C was scheduled for the next week. My phone still didn't ring. The next week revealed she was not in fact preggers just abnormally lumpy due to previous pregnancies. I put that option behind her and loved her like my own for months.
I saw my mother once after that, the day I brought Majic back to her. My mom returned to L.A to live with a drug addled exboyfriend that still lived with his mom, Mama Fish. Leaving the car running I brought the kitty to the door and was greeted by Mama Fish who said "Your mother is so sick." I said don't let her fool you. At the end of the hall a pair of kitten green gleam eyes blinked at me and I knew the process had started again. My mother played the part of the humble sickie and I, wanting nothing more than to leave, had a moments stare down and then I was gone. I fled.
Anger, resentment, sorrow, pain, guilt followed me for years. Where was she in this world? Why did this happen to us? Am I my mothers daughter? Opening the door to my mother allows me to be taken advantage off, robbed of possessions and feelings. It wasn't fair to me, so I completely shut her out. I cut her off.
Over the last four years my sister would have an update. She's back in Palm Springs. Ok. She's been arrested. Ok. She's out but living on the streets. Ok. Uncle Dave has seen her, she's lost a lot of weight. Hmm. What do we do? We wait. We wait to hear that she's dead in an ally. We wait to hear that she's dead in a ditch. We've been waiting our whole lives for the call
My sister calls, she's dreaming about mom. We need to track her down, somethings up. We find her in jail and that gives us peace. She's fed, three hots and a cot she would say. We know where she is. She's not flotsam on the dry desert wind. She's not cracked out or someones toy. She's not carpet crawling in the North End smoking whatever detritus she can put in her handmade pipe either it be lint or dead skin. She's safe. We follow her progress through the system during 2012. She has a release date for September in L.A.
My sister helps her get clothes when she is released. My mom checks in to a weekly rate hotel with the drug addled exboyfriend. I receive this
I didn't add her.
It was sent to me through the drug addled exboyfriends page and it didn't even have a photo. If he was in a coma for four months and is now "special" he may not know how to put up a profile pic. I digress. This was a mere two days before
my our favorite holiday. I was immersed in decorating my house and volunteering my time at work to hand out candy to kids in full face paint as a sugar skull. Seems morbid now.
My sister called and left a message November 4th. Mom's in the hospital. I fell back asleep and had a horrible nightmare. I dreamt my mother was in the same hospital in Twentynine Palms. When I awoke, hungover, I called my sister and mumbled something about a dream. She was freaked out. Our mommy was admitted with a brain bleed and was non responsive. I was needed immediately. I asked for a nurse. I know I'm a bit suspicious. I am my mothers daughter. The nurse says "get here now". I cry myself to sleep in a drunken stupor being held by my husband as I tightly grip a crystal in my right palm. I am inconsolable. I lose the crystal to the sheets.
I can't get a flight till the next morning. In the meantime I'm begging my boss for time off and he's offering me money from the till like a freaking saint. FYI a bereavement fare is only good if they're already dead. I rent a car. I arrive. My mothers body is all plugged in, she's intubated. There's no one there. My sister and one of her dearest friends are waiting and I know, this is the end of our mother. The doctor says she's gone. We, my sister and I, already know without saying that there is nothing to do at this point but let go. Let it all go, a collective breath filled with angst and torture and underneath it all a kind of love. Wooosh. A heavy exhale.
Click Click beep beep. The nurse tells her what she's doing as she removes the tube. We stand numb. Staring at the screen, her face, she's cut and dyed her hair, the screen, it's painfully beeping ever so slowly, her face, the lips are sagging over the teeth-less gums, where are her dentures. We wait. I read it could take hours. The doctor said it could be half an hour.
It took twenty minutes.
Our mother was gone.
The initial toxicology report found methamphetamine and extacy. There was no way in hell our heroin addict mother was partying with a rave drug. We were so confused and trying to piece her last moments together. Later another toxicology report came, it said methamphetamine and barbiturates. Now that made more sense. We've known her to do speed before even though it wasn't her drug of choice. Only the autopsy would reveal what actually killed her. Did the drugs cause her to fall and hurt her head or did the brain bleed first, then she fell and hit her head. The cause of death was still blunt force trauma to the head. She fell, hard, in the tub, in a cheap motel room. I cannot stress this enough; bathrooms are dangerous. She was only 5'2", she didn't have that far to fall. The autopsy took weeks due to the fact that they needed to rule out homicide. We made cremation plans, with the cheap cardboard incineration box. There were incineration boxes costing hundreds of dollars. A seven hundred dollar box you burn! No wonder death is an industry. So now our mom is in a plastic bag in a box.
No more wondering where her next meal would come from or if she's sober or not. A life lost. Still we never got that call. No ditch, gutter, alley. She passed in a clean room surrounded by the ones who loved her just as the day she came in.