Friday, July 27, 2012

The Bad Son

I think I may be a bad son.

As my mom struggles to make any meaningful contact with our universe, I find myself not dissatisfied with her current state. The worst of her unrelenting back discomfort having now subsided, I look upon what remains with something between acceptance and a perverse gratitude.

She has much trouble even sitting properly, half-sliding from her wheelchair, her empty gaze fixed skyward.. She often fights to undo the seat belt, not knowing why it has entrapped her.

She doesn't go out anymore for the car rides that used to fill the hours. It is too dangerous now, as she tried on several occasions to get out of the moving car.

My phone calls to her are much less frequent. Screaming at the top of my lungs to ask questions that she doesn't hear, and if she does, mostly cannot process, is not a ritual that does either of us any good. The routine is now to call her caretaker to make sure that my mom is, within the definition assigned to her, doing ok.

The visits, which occur on most days, are shorter in duration. They feel almost reflexive, a kind of ritual dance. I hold my mom's hands, stroke her cheek, kiss her forehead, as I tell her of my what was and soon will be. After a few minutes, I search my brain for something else to say. I grasp her arm, and tell her how pretty she is looking. Then, almost as quickly as I appear, I find reason to vacate.

Despite all of this, there are positives. The hallucinations seem to have subsided. The calls she made to the police, when still able to dial the phone, are but historical footnote. She has stopped getting ready, always ready, to travel to Lodi and resume her childhood. The discomfort with her surroundings has dissipated. She is, if less aware, at least more at ease.

I no longer feel compelled to rush home to take her out to dinner, because that is now an impossibility. The patterns that were difficult to be subjected to, like the endless mantra that I did not eat enough, are part of a vocabulary she no longer is able to retrieve. By the very nature of her present state she requires and desires less from me, while the burdens on the caretaker are multiplied.

I think I may be a bad son because what is left does not trouble me more. I should, I think be in more pain.  I should, I think not be so comfortable with my reduced role. I should be more than I am, as my mom becomes less and less of what she was. I think I may be a bad son.


Marc said...

I'm sure I'll only be the first of many to say you are the BEST of sons (and husbands, and fathers, and friends). We are all lucky to have you in our lives.

Anonymous said...

I echo Marc..Badson? because you are caring?
Bad son, because you remember the good times?
Bad son, because you wish for only the best?
Good son, is more likely.