Thursday, September 6, 2012

My Parents

For those you who are lucky enough to have one or more parents alive, this is for you.

A few years back my Dad passed away.  We didn't always get along.  In fact, we fought most of the time.  I thought he was a narrow minded old man who would get cranky at the drop of the hat.  He was opinionated, given to self pity, and didn't always treat the folks who cared for him like I thought he should.  Especially, my mom.

Of course, he had an excuse.  In 2000, he lost his sight.

He used to work on cars and was so good at it the folks in his church asked him to maintain the school buses they used to bring invalid members to church on Sundays.  I guess he did a good job of it, because when I came to Alabama for his funeral, just about everybody said that after he went blind, nobody could take his place.  But that wasn't all that they said.  They talked about how funny he was and what a good friend he could be.  Always there, even after his world went dark, with a helping hand and a joke.  Or a prayer.

You got not idea how mad this made me.  Why couldn't he show those folks he was supposed to care the most about this side of him?  And then he was gone.  He wasn't there to shout at and tell all the things I thought he should have done differently.  And after a while I didn't want to shout at him.  I just wanted him back.  With all his contrary ways, I just wanted to pack him into the passenger seat of my car and take him for a drive.  I wanted to hear him, one more time, tell me how to drive, even though he could no longer see the street lights.

And now my mom's sick.

I got a call from her sister that a few days ago, she was checked into the hospital.  And I'm mad all over again.  And scared.  My mom is 82 and even though she's one of the toughest people I've ever met (her mother lived to almost 100), she's not the mom I had growing up.  She's stooped and walks slow.  She tires easily.  She's given to tripping over things and breaking bones.  And, in her own way, she's just as contrary as my Dad was.

And it makes me crazy.

She fell a few years back over one of those stupid trapezoidal parking blocks and broke an arm.  Even though I talked to her after the fact, she never told me what had happened.  "I didn't want you to worry."  I learned the actual facts only months later.

And now she's sick.  I'll be flying back again, and I don't want to hear folks tell me what a good person she was. God Damn it.  I already know that.  She's sweet.  And generous.  And patient with a son who should call more often.  I want her to tell me how she feels.  I want to bring her home from that damn hospital.

And I want to tell her stuff.  I want to tell her that I'm glad to see her getting better.  That she looks good.  I want to sit with her, and laugh together at the things that tickle her on TV.  I want to give her a hug, and let her know that even though she drives me crazy that it's okay.

She's my mom.

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