“REMEMBER HiVIEW, the place on the hill?” I asked Ma two years ago.
“Seemed more like a home than a hospital.”
We pulled up to the CVS drive-thru window to get her prescription. The pharmacist handed us the bag and we pulled away.
“Yeah. I’d been in and out of different hospitals. The doctor said, ‘There’s nothing more we can do.‘ He handed me a HiView brochure and said, ‘Here’s something new. Maybe it’ll help.’ That’s how I ended up going there.”
Instead of turning toward the grocery store, I headed up 3rd St and onto Rt. 60, picking up speed. A pretty day. A good conversation. A little ride.
I remember Daddy taking his mother for rides,
the two of them laughing, saying,
“It’s good to get out and blow the stink off.” 🙂
* * *
MA HAD ASKED EARLIER what I was up to lately.
“Making a shade garden.”
“This one’s in a area with a lot of big, old tree roots. No grass will grow there, so we’re going to stop trying to grow grass and make it a shade garden instead. Everyone needs a little shade at times.”
She shook her head and looked away.
* * *
“THIS IS NEAR YOUR HOUSE,” she said after a few miles.
I turned at my street, slowed down, passed the driveway and turned onto the lawn, driving straight through the back yard to the site of the new garden.
“See those stones? They were part of the old front walk.”
She looks, nods, then shakes her head.
I drive out of the yard. We continue on. We don’t go in the house because it’s too much for her now, getting out of the car, walking in. It’s a day’s work.
* * *
“WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT HiVIEW?” I ask.
“I remember how green it was up there….beautiful trees and flowers and places to sit and think and rest and…..I don’t know….to regroup!”
I feel the big grin racing across my face, thinking of how she has poo-pooed my garden as a waste of time while the salient memory of a 50-years-ago experience is this, the space someone bothered to create. I keep my gaze straight ahead, hoping she won’t read my face.
And I remember the lecture we got when my brother died in ’96, how she refused to spend a penny on flowers because flowers at a funeral were the biggest waste of money, she said. And how, 5 minutes later, recalling her sister’s funeral in 1944, she declared, “Oh, I remember best all the beautiful flowers that lined the room, up one side and down the other. That was so lovely! It meant so much to us.”
And now, it’s this quality in Ma, this maddening inability to connect two things, to see the cause-and-effect relationship, that endears her to me. Call me crazy.
* * *
“HiView was so pretty.”
“Yes, it was…..but how do you know that? Were you ever there?”
“We visited you there once. Daddy took us.”
“I don’t remember that,” she said.
I didn’t expect so.
“You stayed there a couple of times, right?” I asked.
“Yes…but after that they wouldn’t let me come anymore. It didn’t seem to be helping. I couldn’t stay sober and they decided to give the bed to someone they thought they could help.”
We went on to the grocery store and then I took her home, all the while wondering what it’s like to know people think you are a hopeless case.
* * *
Next post in series: “Your Mother was an Excellent Role Model“