Saturday, March 06, 2010

Death at an Unruly Age

From health to death. Guess that's sometimes just how the worm turns. Excuse the cliche. Just seems to fit.

Have been working on an essay about my mother's death back in 2004. Amazing that it takes 6 years to be able to write.

They were packed -- those days.

In order to unload the baggage, it is sometimes necessary to sort through the contents of the luggage, to permit oneself to admit to all the foibles tucked into corners.

Here is the first page of fourteen:

February 4, 2004

The trans-pacific phone call came late in the afternoon.

'Phone for you, the nurse at your mom's convalescent hospital.'

'I'm out. Tell her I'm not here. Take a message,' I insisted, edging out of the room.

'Here ya go.'

'Hello. Yep, she's my mom. How long did you say? Aye! It'll take me at least 24 hours. Not sure if I can get a flight tonight. I'll call. Thanks.'

Returning the receiver to the desk, I walked into the lounge room. 'Greg, Janie has pneumonia. The nurse says she has maybe three days left.' Staring off into nothing, I added, 'I'm going for a walk.'

Grabbing my sun hat and water bottle, I headed out in the February sunshine for Mt. Coot-tha, to the butcherbird, the hills, the harsh stone climb to the top. How could she be dying? Janie might loose her mind, but she'd never loose her body. She's too strong. Even in her stocking feet the last time I saw her a month ago, she was toddling around the halls making jokes, grunting obscenities at fellow patients, sitting quietly waiting for her already been chewed supper. She can't die. If she goes, I have to be matriarch. I'm not ready. She'll be ok. Besides she doesn't even know who I am. She won't miss me. I'm not going. Hell, I just got here. I don't wanna fly back to California.

Walking faster, my mind fashioned a dozen reasons not to return. My brother could take care of it. After all, it was his turn. He'll be there. That'll make her happy.