My Little Mom
Warning: F-bombs and bitchiness.
You’ve been warned.
I wrote this a couple months ago, before... :(
Was it Mercury Retrograde or the MSG or was it MLM (My Little Mom) fading fast that made me so fucking cranky? See, a swear in the first fucking sentence. (Though, I do feel a little better getting that out.)
So, what’s going on in my world …
Let’s see. Well, I spend half my time at My Sister’s home (on Vancouver Island) giving her a bit of a break and providing some twisted sister comfort—more on that in a minute—and the other half of my time in Vancouver partying like a washed up rock star, minus the drugs.
Benefits of being with my family:
- No pants. (PJs: yes)
- No sirens.
- No schedule.
- No makeup.
- No food restrictions. (Hence the MSG hangover.)
- No social pressures.
- No spending. (If you don’t count the infrared sauna I bought online!)
- No something else.
- No another thing.
- No this.
(I’m OCD, and need 10 things.)
My Sister “gets” me. She’s known me for 45 years after all. That’s not to say we’re same-same. No. No! But she knows me well enough—I think—that she sort of thinks that I have a raisin-sized heart and that I maybe understand how to be sensitive.
Actually, no, she’d disagree on the latter statement, but whatever. She laughs at my obscene jokes, not so much because she thinks they're funny, but because my audacity amuses her. Which I totally appreciate.
Since MLM is almost entirely bed-ridden—or rather daybed-ridden, sleeping on a wee bed in the lee of the living room—we stick close to her and pass her waking (in-between-naps) time with silliness and tomfoolery.
I’ve taken to making up stories. Stories about My Sister. The Good Sister.
Let’s take a look at My Sister …
She’s 18 years my senior, which almost makes her a senior. She’ll smack me when she reads this. Probably with the fly swatter. She’s cruel that way.
But seriously, My Sister is a saint. No, really, she’s a fucking angel, and I don’t mean that derogatorily. The fact that she’d vehemently disagree with me only further proves my point.
My Sister is also super private about her life, so I’ll def definitely get whipped when she reads this. Love you, sister!!
My Sister’s not only the kind of person who takes in forlorn, lost or abandoned strays—animals, family, foster kids—she actually does do that. She’s kind. She’s the kind of “kind” I used to think I wanted to be before I realized that I kinda like being Evil Little Sister. Evil spelled backwards is Live! Let that be a lesson to us all.
So, anyway, back to the storytelling.
When Mom is awake and not telling us how to live our lives when she “goes” (no idea where I got my control freakism), I entertain her with what should otherwise be annoying, childish, theatrical whining. Or perhaps it would be to anyone without our deranged and denigrated sense of humour.
Moooom, [My Sister] poked me!
Moooom, [My Sister] told me I’m adopted!
Moooom, [My Sister] said I have to sleep outside with the spiders!
What I love most is the mixture of shock and amusement on My Sister’s face. It’s the best.
My Sister will pipe in with Moooom, Anna’s lying, again!
And then we guffaw with gut laughter.
No, I’m not, Mom, she told me to sleep outside. Without even a flimsy t-shirt. Naked, mom! Naked! And covered in plum jam so the ants will creep all over me. It’s a true story, Mom, I promise.
My Sister mock gasps, You’re so bad! Shameless! She’s lying, Mom. Don’t believe her.
And somehow, we’re both five years old instead of adults 18 years apart.
And my mom curls a corner of her lip, happy that we’re laughing and “getting along.”
Wit, lips and cheekbones is most of what’s left of her now, though she’s hanging in around 84 pounds. And though she was little to start—4’10”—at this weight, I can count each rib and vertebra.
Mom was a First Aid Attendant and loves the human anatomy. She’s intrigued by her own body’s deterioration.
I tell her, Look at your little chicken wings. How are we going to use you as a decoy when the zombies come for us?
Anna-Maria, she almost grins in a way that calls my bluff.
And then we name the bones of the body, using hers as the example skeleton.
Humerus, ulna, radius, carpls, metacarpals, phalanges …
She wants to donate her skin. It drapes off the little tissue left under it, and she waves her arm in the air to show me how the skin flaps like a curtain in a breeze.
See, she says, pulling her dermis with her free hand and enjoying the morbidity of our chat. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree!
Or we could make a purse! And then I could take you everywhere with me! I suggest.
She shakes her head in mock condemnation, but if she could laugh she would, and anyway, her eyes still have life.
And My Sister says, Shameless. But shares the same expression as Our Little Mom.
But Mom’s fading. She doesn’t want to eat and only does so that we won’t cry and carry on. I’m not above pulling out the waterworks to persuade her. Or simply because I can’t control myself.
“Eat a grape, Mom. Just try. Please.” I’ve never been so desperate for someone to eat a grape.
I usually have one teary, squeaky sob fest per visit. This time I made it 12 days before I broke down.
I don’t break down in Vancouver or on Facebook. No, that’s where I suppress sadness and “fight the good fight,” whatever the hell that means. For me, it means getting all dolled up and going out on the town. To forget for a while. And I work on my “love” business, and I retreat to my cozy city abode with its Green Gables view and piercing sirens.
It works for a while: the distractions and emotional recharging. And then I feel the pull to get back to MLM, who lives with My Sister the Saint. Always there. Always caring and caring for someone.
She sleeps on the sofa next to mom to be on alert and gets up every two to four hours to give Mom pain-relief medications and a kiss on the forehead.
“It’s what I do,” My Sister says without regret or remorse, reluctant to give me a turn on the sofa.
It’s what she does.
I love you, My Sister.
What have I (re)learned?
- MSG really does make me cranky.
- My Sister makes me less cranky.
- Cut out food chemicals.
- Crank up siblingry. (New word! You’re welcome.)
p.s. I’d tell you about our “how to wax yer old clam” chat, but then she’d really beat me. *blink blink*
For the last two months, I was able to share the sofa watching over my little mom and attending to her ever increasing needs along with my sister (and for the last 10 days, my brother). On a stormy Friday morning at 2:57am, Mom died with her children by her side holding her hands.
This has been the most profoundly impactful experience of my life, both heart-wrenching and holy-beautiful. The intimacies we’ve experienced are too personal and painful to share, but I am incredibly grateful and honoured to have been able to give something back to a woman who's given me so much.
MLM: October 1, 1932 - October 14, 2016
Love and miss you so much, My Little Momma! xo