Saturday, July 3, 2021

Good News

 I took my mother to her orthopedic appointment yesterday, the first time she has seen an ortho, a week after breaking her shoulder.  We arrived early, as requested, so that we could fill out the seemingly endless forms electronically on their new computer system.  Oh, it is scary.  They ask all sorts of health questions, and many questions about your life and habits as well.  You are being judged whether you feel it or want to be or not.  After perhaps twenty minutes, we were done, entered into whatever system, catalogued, and, I am certain, charged.  Yes, they will charge the insurance for that "evaluation."  I wanted to know why we can't fill out such a form once, have a scan code on our phones, and then just use it at any terminal no matter what.  

"Oh, that is coming, I think."  

I thought I had a good get rich idea there.  

Soon my mother was taken in for X-rays.  We were seated in a room with other people.  And we waited.  And waited.  One woman said she had been there for an hour and a half.  Impossible, I thought, that we would be.  

It was three hours before we saw the doctor.  

America. . . don't you care about your sons and daughters. . . . 

Something is horribly wrong.  I long for the bad old days when you went to a doctor's office and saw Old Doc Jones or someone similar who came in smoking a cigarette, asked you questions, and told you what he wanted you to do.  It was scary enough, but you weren't there that long and, honestly, you expected to die.  Everyone did.  Old Doc Jones seemed on the verge himself.  

Now, doctors all look like Hollywood actors or rich CEOs.  They don't talk to you.  They look at a computer screen and have a P.A. come in and write up a chart. 

My mother's doctor, it turns out, was the same surgeon who had repaired her other shoulder three years ago.  I told him so when he came in.  He looked at my mother, looked at the scar on her shoulder, then looked at me.  

"I remember you.  Did you bring her in before?  Yes, I thought so." 

He didn't seem to remember my mother.  This is why the elderly need advocates.  They truly become invisible.  

As it turns out, the E.R. doc was right.  My mother's shoulder will heal.  It doesn't require surgery.  The surgeon said that she should take her arm out of the sling at home as much as possible and do little movements like washing dishes or wiping counters.  

"Yes!" I said.  "How about cooking?"  Big grin. 

He gave her a prescription for occupational therapy.  

"Occupational, not physical therapy?" I queried.  "I only ask because my girlfriend cut her wrist and had a prescription for occupational therapy and they wouldn't see her at the physical therapy place.  They said they couldn't."

He looked at me puzzled.  He acted as though there was no difference.  Or was he trying to figure out what was wrong with me?  He wrote out a prescription for both.

There is a difference. 

When we got back to the house, I fixed us lunch.  And I did the dishes.  And I cleaned up the house a bit.  Etc.  My life is very busy now with the usual bad old days housewife duties.  Then I have to do the husband's duties, too.  I'm a one man band, I am.  I am Woman, hear me roar!  

I told my mother I was going to the gym and then I would go tend to the things at my house.  I wanted take out for dinner.  What did she want?  She was not interested.  She said she would eat leftovers.  O.K.  We have plenty.  

After my workout, after my shower, after running the printer and feeding the cat, after running through mail and picking up the new dress that was delivered for my mother, I just wanted to sit in my own home a minute and relax.  I poured an expensive whiskey in one of my cut crystal glasses that I rarely use, and sat in a big leather chair.  I sipped and thought and stared for a long time.  I felt good.  I felt guilty.  I felt I needed to order and pick up my dinner and get back.  

When I got to the good Italian restaurant, I walked to the bar to get my order.  I heard a loud voice yell.

"They'll let anyone in this joint I guess.  Get over here motherfucker." 

I looked up as the rest of the place did.  The bar was crowded, the restaurant already filling.  I was in my homeboy peddle pushers and a t-shirt.  I had just wanted to pick up my food and get out.  

"They haven't really let me in," I suggested.  "I've gotten no farther than the door."

"What the hell is it?  You're a blond!  Get over here and have a drink you son of a bitch."

I walked across the floor to their end of the bar.  It was part of a group of fellows I have drinks with on Christmas Eve, guys I've known for decades.  The banter began.

"Where's your girl?"  

I realized that a year of my life had been passed in solitude.  A year and a half had passed since I had seen them.  

"No girl."

"What?  Why'd you leave her?"

"Other way 'round, I'd say."

"Why'd she leave you?"

"I don't think she liked me any more.  I think she changed her mind." 

"Yea, that's what Wayne always says--'We'd get married if she liked me.'  So you're not with her any more?  Do you have her number?"

Maybe I should give it to them, I thought.  They deserve it.  

I realized it was Ili's birthday.  Surely she has a lover/boyfriend/partner by now.  She would be enjoying a four day weekend.  Maybe she had gone somewhere. Maybe she was at a resort.  I remembered the birthday I had taken her to The Breakers.  It was a wonderful weekend.  

"Ah, hell. . . you'll get another one.  You always do.  Why don't you call us?  We can go out?  We'll chase women."

"He won't call.  We'll see him at Christmas."

"Man," I said, "I don't chase anyone.  I've never even asked a woman out."

"Bullshit.  You always have some young girl."

I told them I had to get back to my mother's house.  I'd already been gone too long.  

When I got home, my mother was sitting in the garage in her usual place.  I walked up with my takeout.  

"Did you get my antibiotics?" 

"No, not yet.  I thought I'd eat first." 

This dismayed her quite a bit.  My food was already an hour old.  She had been impatiently waiting.  

"I'll drive up now," I said. 

"No, no. . . eat your food."  

I sat outside in the heat and humidity and balanced the plastic container of arugula salad on my knee.  I had already poured a big glass of wine.  My neck began to sweat.  I finished the salad and opened the container of spaghetti carbonara with chicken.  There was a lot.  I offered to split it with my mother, but she didn't want any.  I poured another large glass of wine, the warm, moist air moving in and out of my nostrils.  

"I think my ankles are getting bit," I said. 

"Really?  They like you, don't they."  

I was sure she had sprayed herself with bug repellent.  I ate half my dinner and was full.  I went into the house to put it in the refrigerator,  poured a giant scotch, and went back out to sit with my mother.  

"When I finish this, I'll go up and get your drugs.  Do you want anything else?

She did.  Jesus, the scotch was nice.  Then it was gone.  Then so was I. 

Back home, I opened the pill bottle for her and dressed her knee which had become infected.  She still had her arm in the sling.  We turned on the television.  "Frazier" was now one of her mainstays.  They played back to back episodes between commercials.  I thought of my buddies yucking it up at the bar.  I thought of Ili.  I would be in bed early tonight.  

There is a hurricane coming, they say.  It will be here early next week.  We could lose power, of course.  Then we will live outdoors in the heat and humidity eating tins of cold food and drinking warm beers.  Other people, many, have purchased large generators to power their houses.  We have taken our chances.  

Nine weeks until I take my mother back to the doctor.  Nine weeks of therapy.  

I slept well last night.  The phone was clear of messages this morning.  


  1. Is that the gnome from the commercial? It is holding a lightsaber?

    Some old friends are in Gettysburg. I relayed to them that was a great trip for me - I really felt in the presence of history there. It was me- the kids and my mother - as was most often the pack travelling during Spring Breaks all the while they were growing up.

    Their father didn't believe in trips - or seeing anything - really - so I packed up ma and the two of them and we got into whatever van or suv I was driving at the time and headed out on the open road.

    Anyway. They said Gettysburg - on the anniversary day of the actual battle - was full of Confederate flags etc. She sent me a photo of a big truck - flags waving - one read "Fuck Biden."

    It made me sad to think that.

    My post last night was as high as I got - from there things went south. It's okay. Sometimes you gotta feel the not so great stuff too. As long as you do not dwell too long in that place that cannot be changed.

    I must try to be super aware when a bout of my own sadness and loneliness drops by for a visit - and try to be kinder to my mother - who has been without my father for 30 years. And who has few friends here and depends on me for everything. Even when she is pointed and aggressive and attempting to get me riled up and wants a fight (Aries - fire sign) - mostly I'm really good at it - I will work on being a better.

    I'm sure I've left this but I read it again today - I've always liked to jab a salted spear in my pain real good.

  2. Less like Kafka, More like Flaubert

    Were I less like Kafka,
    More like Flaubert,
    By some strike of rain, perhaps,
    I would be less prudent,
    Less cautious with my muted confessions.
    These ever-stifled declarations
    Would spill in sterile words
    Onto the surface of that parchment there,
    Debasing its purity with my own.

    Instead I stand moribund
    Like one of the precocious daffodils after an Easter frost.
    Silent, silent
    As good as dead,
    With broken spine and bowed head.

    Were I less like Kafka,
    More like Flaubert,
    I would watch you on that pillow,
    I would speak, and not let you sleep
    I would fight my need to quietly gaze upon your delicacy,
    As you dream whatever magnificent landscapes
    Your tender mind can conjure
    Unimpeded by consciousness.

    I would enter your dreams, with murmurs
    On your shoulders,
    Until soon, your body, consumed
    By my grasp and cleaving to my whispers
    Would wander the sublime catacombs of sleep
    Protected, and perfumed by the spells I cast.

    Were I less Like Kafka,
    More like Flaubert,
    I would arc your hips to heaven
    Where they belong, and from whence they came,
    And sip secrets from your skin
    As you drown in our communion
    Absorbed by oblivion.

    You would channel your most fertile goddess
    And orchestrate the movement of moonlight
    On your wanton, wounded abdomen,
    Your fallen face lost to abandon.
    As dying, diving hawks through a canyon
    We move and tremble in unison.
    Our bodies suffering and wrenched,
    Tugged in convulsive shudders
    By identical parallel forces.

    Were I less Like Kafka,
    More like Flaubert,
    I would not spare you the exhausted numbness
    Of all your prescient senses.
    Your strained pale skin drained of desire
    Saturated by too much pleasure,
    More than human bodies were built to endure
    Until your spirit gave way in collapse,
    From all that passed between us.

    You would lie on your alter
    In absolute satisfaction.
    So that, for a while at least,
    We would need to eschew
    The more exotic treasures and unexpected pleasures
    I have designed for you.
    Those more dizzying and unimagined heights
    We could achieve.
    For a while, at least until you recover from the onslaught
    I have wrought upon your tattered flesh.

    Were I less like Kafka,
    More like Flaubert,
    There would be no walls, no boundaries
    Between our fused bodies.
    The impertinent past, and dread future
    Would be vanquished by a divine present.
    Every muscle within you,
    Every tendon, every sinew
    Our perfect circuitry intertwined-
    Knowing rest as if for the first time.

    We might have conceived exquisite violations
    In defiance of the laws of men,
    The puritanical perverse boundaries
    They erect to contain the passion of lovers
    And the supremacy of love.
    They would have looked upon us and recoiled
    At the raging incarnation of their pathetic fear.

    My silence has saved you the inconvenience
    Of mourning the torment when my body parts from yours,
    When I would have risen above you
    And the thinnest sheath of air
    Began its tyranny of separation
    Between our twisted torsos.
    Saturated in your smell,
    The smells of sweat and sour wine,
    The smell of death
    As your soul exits mine.

  3. ere I less like Kafka,
    More like Flaubert,
    I would feed on your longing for me,
    Eager to flood you with divinities
    Ever greater than the last,
    Until you expire.
    Leaving me to touch myself in rhythm
    With your penitent gaping cries.
    As your tortured contorted twitches
    Convulse upward through the wet abyss
    Of inches between us.

    I prefer to bypass the ecstasy entirely,
    And go straight to the pulpy raw meaty misery,
    As that is the inevitability
    All true lovers find.

    I will spare you from looking into my eyes,
    So that you may never know
    The gaze of unconditional devotion,
    Where the time we are asunder
    Is filled with longing's
    Desperate thoughts of reunion.
    And every second together
    Might have been an age eternal shared,
    Had I been less like Kafka,
    And more like Flaubert.
    “Then, then it was that Zeus turned back
    The glittering journeys of the stars
    And the burning sun and the pale face of dawn;
    And from that day on, the blaze of divine fire
    Drives always toward the western sky;
    And the wet clouds lie to the north,
    And the parched plains of Ammon languish untouched by dew,
    And Zeus withholds from them his sweet rain.”


    poem by Mushika

  4. oh the Euripides part shouldn't be connected to the end of the poem -- it's a shame we can't edit after posting. :)