Are you dying?

Mom is a trained nurse. She is tough. When the bro and me were younger we so did not even dare to get sick during the week. Mom even brags about how good we were, always saving our sickness for the weekends. I can only remember staying home once and that was when I had Scarlet Fever and only than because we had a babysitter coming to the house.

My brother has asthma and rarely did he have an attack the precipitated a visit to the emergency room. I recall, again, only one incident. And it was late. Or later in the day on a holiday. I want to say Thanksgiving but am not sure.

This has lead me to going to work and pushing myself hard when I should be at home. In bed, sleeping and sipping hot drinks. Not cashiering and talking to/sneezing on my staff and customers. I have to suck it up though for I constantly hear my mom asking me if I am dead. (Inside joke dead or in the hospital the only way one was allowed to stay home).

Flash forward to yesterday when T is at M’s because Auntie K cannot watch him after school. Apparently he crawled right into K’s bed and told M had had been cold all day. I talked to him briefly re soccer and at first he wanted to go but two minutes later M is calling me to tell me he got out of bed and began to cry.

By the time I got home he had been let into the house and was curled up in his bed. I could feel the heat coming off him. I was able to persuade him to take a Tylenol which seemed to bring the fever down. Still had a headache and his tummy hurt. I fed him some soup and he was off  and into bed by 9 p.m. without a fight. Asleep in like 2 minutes.

Had to wake him up this morning at 5 to take him to the babysitter’s. Again I could feel the heat coming off of him and he began to cry. It hurt his head to stand and walk, his tummy was hurting again. I felt horrible but needed to be at work. I dropped him off with heavy heart and went to work.

My mind was not there. I went through and got everything done in record time. Everything from settling the store to getting inventory done. Watching and waiting for  8:30 a.m. so I can call the doctor’s office. In the two minutes it took me to get through this morning, our family doctor was fully booked up but we were able to get into the same day clinic.

I was frantic when Auntie K called to tell me T had a temperature of 103 but she had given him some Tylenol and he had eaten an orange. I no longer even had a thought about work. I watched the clock to 9:30 when my second got in. Raced through the doing of exceptions and tobacco daily inventory so I could be out by 10 a.m.

I ran across the parking lot which should give you an indication of how scared and worried I was. I may move at a fast walk but rarely do I break into a run. Got home transferred T from the van to my car. Talked with Auntie K for a few minutes and than we all went our separate ways.

T brings his stuffed dog into the doctor’s office. He ended up wearing my coat because he was freezing. And he cannot get comfortable. Wants to lie down but has grown so big that he is draped across my lap. He sat with his head on my lap and I ran my fingers through his hair and across his back. T was not happy. He had no questions and even my attempt at a lame joke went completely unanswered.

Finally we see the doctor. His temperature is down in the normal range. Ears and throat are good. Headache not good but manageable. It is the stomach that is of concern. And of course in my head dances the possibility that his appendix is the culprit. He told the doctor where it hurt while she was poking and prodding. Thankfully it was not his appendix.

Viral gastroenteritis. An inflammation of the stomach lining due to a virus. Usually includes all T’s symptoms with the added bonus of diarrhea and puking. Thank goodness T does not have those two symptoms. Diarrhea I can live with, but I am a sympathetic thrower upper. The minute I hear someone throwing up my own begins to rise. In all his life T has puked on me once, he sat up in bed and blach! I made the ex clean it up.

So we came home. And he took over the couch. Binge watching Teen Titans and suffering with the pain as best he can. He finally caved and had half an antacid which I was told to give him because it might help. I am making him drink a bit of milk and praying that he does not end up throwing that back up. (Milk thrown back up is disgusting.)

Where I may not look after myself and see the doctor unless I am in deep distress, I do not wait for T to get that bad. But there are sickness rules; if you are sick you are not allowed to play with your friends. You may watch t.v. but there is none of this racing around, you have to lay on the couch. T willingly follows all these rules. Which is when I know that he is truly ill. Oh yeah, and he had no questions for the doctor. Usually, he asks tons of questions as he wants to know everything. Today none of that.

Did you know you are my hero?

My mom. She has always been my rock. My support. She doesn’t pull any punches with me, she never sugar coats it, the truth as she sees it is always laid bare for me to absorb. For me to learn from. When I was that horrid teenager I really did not care for her much and I made her life hell. Even in my twenties, we had a very rocky road. Now though, now we talk about everything and I realize just how many of her lessons I absorbed throughout my life.

As I have mentioned before my mom was the first and probably only woman on our block to be on her own in 1979. I remember when I was older she admitted to feeling guilt at leaving my father because some of the mothers of my friends would not let me play with my friends after that. But can you imagine how strong she had to be?

She left my dad, kept the house and began to raise not one, but two children. On her own. Without any help at all.

She learned how to drive a standard with my grandfather as her teacher. I am sure that I can imagine the conversation, the yelling that came from my grandfather, but she did it and got her license to boot.

She became the Nursing Unit Director of the psych unit at one of our hospitals. And than proceeded to work her way up and into career choices that to this day hold me in awe. She is so smart my mom. Anything she decided she wanted, she worked her ass off and got.

Her reward. The ability to retire at age fifty-five and move to Mexico. This was her dream and this she did at the end of 1999. I cried when she left. I cry every year that she leaves. I cry when she comes home. She is my mom, my best friend and I hate leaving her.

When I am with her, she gives me courage. She walks me through the plans to make my life happy. She steers me in the right direction and than wipes her hands clean and tells me that I am to get off my butt and just do it. JDI, her favorite three letters.

However, there is one thing my mom has given to me that I am failing to see in the younger generation that resides in the town I live in. I will not paint all those in this generation of 20-27 year olds with the same brush, but I see a lack of independence and cutting of the strings.

My mom, she never wanted me hanging onto her apron strings. She never wanted the bro to hang on. He just chose not to let go until she booted him out. Granted she probably did not want me to move out of the house at age eighteen but she allowed it. I mean how could she stop me?

I have stood on my own two feet forever it feels like. My mom fostered a strong sense of independence in me and a desire to do it on my own. I have some difficulty in asking for help because I should be able to do it on my own. My mom did how come I can’t?

I look at the dreams that I have. To write. There really is no other dream. I just want to write. Maybe make enough money so I could at least go down to Mexico to see my mom. Even if I do cry when I leave. (As an aside, every time I leave and I am sobbing, tears rolling down my cheeks, my middle aching with pain everyone is so concerned about me. And there is mom, assuring them that really I am fine, this is just me.)

I misinformed you. I have one other dream. My dream is that I will be a hero for my son the way my mom is my hero. We all imagine how our lives would be different if small things changed, but I know what I would be without my mom. I would be a selfish whiney girl child who blamed others for the misfortune in my life. I know this, I know she resided in me at one point and time. But mom drove her out as sure as if she was exorcising the devil.

She taught me to stand tall and firm in my beliefs. She taught me to have the strength to admit when I am wrong but to fight when I am right. She taught me to accept my weaknesses, embrace and learn from them. She did not teach me how to cook though, I can tell you that one! (Asked for the recipe for her banana bread and cookies and she could not remember either)

My mom, she has taught me all I need to know about being a strong independent woman. A woman who still needs her mom sometimes to reassure her all will be fine. A woman who has still crawled into her mother’s lap and cried her eyes out. My mom, she is awesome.

Would you jump too?

When I was a little girl and well let’s face it right up until the time that I moved out of the house, I did not get all the things I wanted. Cabbage Patch Kid phase, I was the only kid on the block without one. One of my friends had two and I was green with jealousy. I cannot quite recall the other things I wanted in life that all my other friends had but what I can tell you is my mother’s comment on all these passing phases. (And yes I realize that having a Cabbage Patch Kid now would earn me some serious cash but alas, I am missing out. Thanks a lot mom.)

My mother was a single mom in a time era where divorce was still frowned upon. But that is a subject for another story. Here we are discussing her absolute disdain for popular phases and my desire to follow them. (Just remembered another one, in grade 7 it was Melissa Jeans with a white stripe down the side. Finally got them as they were on the down swing. And the pair I had were defective. The zipper refused to stay up. I walked around half the day with my zipper down, showing off my scarlet granny panties for everyone to see before one of my friends alerted me.)

Our conversations would always start off the same. ‘Mom I really really need a Cabbage Patch Kid.’ ‘Jay, it is really close to Christmas just wait until Santa comes.’ So I was excited. Ten years old and although I knew Santa was my mom, I had expectations. I wrote a letter I believe to Santa. And than came Christmas. There was no Cabbage Patch Doll under the tree. What on earth! Santa always got me at least one of my asked for gifts on my list. Why had he forsaken me?

Now every smart child knows that the time to ask for a much needed item is not during the holiday season. So I waited. And waited. My Amma passed away just before Christmas that year and in January I was struck with (as the doctor put it) good old fashioned Scarlet Fever.

Finally I asked again for a Cabbage Patch Kid and this was my first (probably not but the first time I recall it) introduction to what would become my mom’s famous last words. ‘Jay-lyn Anne you are not going to die without a Cabbage Patch Kid. If all your friends were to jump off a bridge would you do the same?’ I think I may have made a smart ass comment about knowing how to swim but alas, it failed to impress.

Let us fast forward 33 years. There is a new fad in town. It is called a Fidget Spinner. It is a plastic toy for kids to keep their hands busy. Are you kidding me? It is literally a piece of plastic that kids spin around their fingers. M has indicated to me that it is kinda neat but I am appalled.

She bought K one. I said when I saw it, no way in hell is T getting something dumb ass like that. His dad has agreed to ‘make’ one for him at home in the shop. Not sure if his dad is waiting for him to forget or will actually make him one. I do not care. I refuse to spend money on something this dumb. Which brought back the statement ‘If all your friends jumped off a bridge would you too?’ and I understand now where my mom was coming from.

T and his dad came to the store to shop yesterday. We had a conversation about the Fidget Spinner and how I most certainly was not going to buy him one. With a slight pout and whine T asked me why not? I did not use the statement my mom used on me but I did tell him that the reason why was because his interest would last as long as it did for his talking Elmo and Chuck the Truck. He asked how long was that? I said one day!

As I said one day to him, the statement if all your friends jumped off the bridge would you do it too? And I finally understood what my mom meant.

Total Recall

Tonight my mom and me were talking. She asked me what I remembered about a family trip we had taken in 1983. I listed off a few things that I recalled. And even more sprang to mind. 

Mom than says to me that as she reads it becomes real and there are memories she had forgotten. And was not sure how me and the bro would react to the emotions and memories.

‘​We are different now mom. And that is a cause for reflection. And seeing a glimpse into our shared past and I don’t know how to explain the rest of what I want to say.’

But now I do. What I wanted to/was trying to say was: The people that we are now and the shared experiences that we have had, colors how you look at the memories. You see the child and the woman/man that we have become. Imaglimated. How we act and the way we speak now will tinge those pictures recreated as the evolved personality is seen. 

The diaries she is reading were written between the years of 1983-1987. Part of me wants to relieve those memories to laugh and cry. To see the life the three of us carved. 

A large part of me wants to hide. 1986-1987 were not good years and I don’t mean for wine. They were brutal years for me and I was a nasty teenage girl. 

However in my insights to how my mom feels lays my own insight. To continue on this path I have begun I am going to have to face that horrid scared 13-14 year old me. And I am going to get to know her again through my memories and hers.