Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tears In May


They all left during the Spring months, three of them in the month of May.

I was apprehensive when Spring arrived this year, especially May. I thought I was doing fairly well. Then my son handed me the mail and I opened a letter that started with

“It has been approximately one year since the loss of your loved one.”

The letter was from the Hospice that had cared for my father. It arrived the Saturday before Mothers Day.

My mother died in the year 2000. My other loved ones died in the year 2004. When my mother, Bonnie, died I didn’t have a lot of time to grieve. I had the responsibility of my devastated and dementia-ridden father, Homer. When my brother, George, died I hid in the bathroom to scream and cry because my father didn’t understand my tears and they upset him. When my long time mate, James, died I still had to hide the grief. My father needed me. When my dear female friend, Pauline, died I was free to grieve. My father had gone to be with Bonnie and George.

But by that time I seemed so foreign to myself. I seemed incapable of remembering small things. I cried at the sight of a butterfly or the drop of a spoon. My blood pressure soared and I had to start taking medication. Without thinking I would head my car to the hospital to visit a father that was no longer there. I would sit looking at the television, but my mind was like a camera playing back memories. I would see a large man walking down the street and pull over the car to give James a ride. I saw a woman that looked like my mother and I sat in the parking lot of a grocery store and cried so hard a man came up to my window and asked if he could help me. In other words, I went a bit crazy.

When my family took me out to dinner for Mother’s Day we went to a small Italian restaurant. The dining area was long and narrow. The walls were 3/4 distressed wood with the upper 1/4 open. There was a sloping roof that hung over the open area of the wall. You could sit at a table and see the upper portion of a beautiful tree. You could see the birds flying and singing, feel the breeze flowing through, and smell the flowers from the garden. It was a relaxing and open atmosphere. They sat us in the far corner at a round table. There were tables all around us but they weren’t in use.

Just as our food was being served the manager of the restaurant came into the room and instructed the waiters to set up the table beside us for 14 people and the table behind us for 22 people. We were in the corner of a very narrow room. We were going to be surrounded and locked in. Which would have been fine if all of us could walk. But I was in a wheelchair.

Our meal was spent laughing about those that could walk getting out of there fast and leaving the gimp in the wheelchair and the gimp that moved slowly to fend for themselves. It was plotted through most of the meal.

When it was time for us to leave we were literally hemmed in by people in chairs, and added to the confusion were the transportable lamps and heaters that stood on large posts. I was determined that the walking ones were going to have to bare the embarrassment of the moment too.

I turned my wheelchair around and blocked what little room we had so that none of them could get around me. I called for the waiter. I asked him to clear an escape route for us. It took a good 10 minutes for him to whisper in everyone’s ear (why he had to whisper is a mystery to me) that there was a wheelchair that needed to get out. There was even an elderly woman that looked as if she might be nearing 90 that was going to have to stand. All the transportable lamps and heaters had to be moved too.

Everyone turned around and looked at the wheelchair to confirm that the waiter knew what he was talking about. Then as if on cue everyone stood up and moved their chairs while the waiters bobbed about. The slow gimp, John, got behind my wheelchair and decided that he would push me through the line of men and women. All the walking ones had to slowly move behind the slow one. If it hadn’t been so all out embarrassing I would have laughed myself sick. John moved so slowly that I felt I had to do something so I threw my arms in the air and encompassed the lot of them and in a good voice said, “thank you one and all!” Those that had had enough wine yelled back, “and happy Mothers Day to you!“

When we got outside I laughed so hard my back hurt. John grabbed a lamppost and laughed because he had made it impossible for the walking ones to escape. The teenagers and my son ran inside the Italian Bakery pretending that they didn’t know the gimps laughing hysterically in front of the restaurant.

The reason that I included this story in the middle of the story about my loved ones that have died is because I have spent the days since Mothers Day thinking about them and what a great party it would have been if they all could have been there. My mother would have made a dozen friends with the people standing and staring. My father would have gone to the woman that looked to be in her 90’s and taken her arm to make certain she was safe. My brother would have hung back with the walking ones and teased me terribly about holding up the non-gimps. My man friend would have intimidated all the men because of his size and probably would have grabbed the wheelchair and me and carried us out the door. My dear female friend would have probably argued with James about who should carry my wheelchair. But all of us would have laughed ourselves silly about being on display because of a chair that had wheels.

I’m still a little crazy and I cried when I opened the letter from Hospice, but I’m getting better. I have secretly smiled all week at what that Italian Restaurant would have been in for if all of the ones that have gone had been there for the Mothers Day exit scene.

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