‘There must be some way out of here,’
said the joker to the thief,
‘There’s too much confusion,
I can’t get no relief.’ ”
It happened today for the second time since May. Mom said on the phone, “You’ve got to get me out of here.”
What do I say: Mom, you’re stuck there for life. There is no escape? You’re going to die there and soon you won’t know who I am?
Somebody must have some guidance or words of wisdom for me here. I am running out of answers. I am neither Dr. Phil nor Oprah. Maybe one of them could come and visit mom and explain to her how she can ease into life at the nursing home and accept her present circumstances with grace. Why the hell should she? Her present circumstances stink.
Mom said she hasn’t been doing well, that they take her dentures out every night to clean them and when they put them back in the morning they are loose so she can’t eat right. Her legs are weak. In her own words, “they’re pretty wicked.”
I try to make the usual small talk that seems to soothe her: How is your friend Rose? How is Tillie (the aide named Miriam)? How is Mouse?
“Mouse is fine,” she says. “No harm can come to her. She’s all I have.”
“You have me,” I say.
“I know,” she says. “Thank God for you.”
Really? Thank God for me, her gaoler. The one who put her in this pretty prison?
“I’m wetting so much these days. They don’t bother with my exercise anymore. I can’t do it,” she says.
It’s obviously been a bad day.
I ask if my brother Rick has been calling, and what he’s up to and she says, “Nothing much. Just himself.”
There is a family meeting every month; the next one is on August 16 and I am going to attend. I’m going to ask why they still haven’t gotten her to the beauty salon for a cut and color. After all, she’s been there since May 17. What the hell is going on?
Perhaps this seems petty, but when all one has to look forward to is meals, TV, physical therapy (this is questionable) and camaraderie (this is important), feeling pretty or at least somewhat put-together is a big deal.
I hate being the warden. I don’t want to be mom’s jailer anymore. I wish I could bring her a cake with a file in it or help her tunnel her way through Room 303-A like they did in The Shawshank Redemption, but this is reality. The alarms would go off, the buzzer on her wheelchair would alert everyone to her whereabouts, and I would be arrested for aiding and abetting. I could go to prison and finally write my memoir! Oh, what I’d do for the extra time.
First I would smuggle mom to Haworth, England, where she spent her happiest moments traipsing on the moors as a young woman. She would be Cathy, calling to Heathcliff and gathering heather, then running into his arms. He’d gather her up like the heather she held so tightly to her chest. She could walk again and die in Heathcliff’s arms at the open window. She could be the romantic she always was, and have a beautiful, tragic death, a death befitting her.
Reality isn’t like the movies, though. Perhaps that’s why I prefer the world of TV, movies, theatre, opera and books to real life most of the time. It’s prettier in there.
Laurence Olivier (Heathcliff) and Merle Oberon (Cathy)
in Wuthering Heights, 1939.